What does 2018 have in store for the infrastructure and housing sectors?

This time last year our MD Jonathan Stott wrote an article looking at what 2017 held in store, including these forecasts which have since come to pass:

1 – The hybrid Bill for HS2 Phase 1 would finally achieve Royal Assent (and construction would begin);

2 – The Neighbourhood Planning Bill would be enacted;

3 – The remaining sections of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 would come in to force;

4 – The RICS Professional Statement for Surveyors advising in relation to Compulsory Purchase would be published;

5 – Consultation would commence on a National Policy Statement for Airport Capacity;

6 – The first sections of Crossrail would come in to operation [OK – I was ahead of myself with this one; Abbey Wood Station is operational but the rest of the Elizabeth Line will start to operate in late 2018]

7 – Consultation would ramp up on Crossrail 2 with the intention of submitting a hybrid Bill in 2019 or 2020

8 – The hybrid Bill for HS2 Phase 2a would be deposited and consultation on Phase 2b would continue

9 – Mr Justice Dove’s decision to refuse Southwark Council permission to judicially review the decision not to confirm the Aylesbury CPO would not be the last we would hear of that saga.

This year various members of our team have provided a summary below of what they expect to happen during 2018, focussing on the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects and housing delivery:

Malcolm Newman, Director, on what’s in store for High Speed 2:

The year ahead for HS2 will see the project move from the design stage to project implementation along the phase 1 stretch between London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street, following Royal Assent being granted in February 2017. Just before the holiday period, HS2 began delivering less than welcome Christmas presents in the form of acquisition notices to many of the developers and businesses that we are advising along the route, informing them that HS2’s contractors will be taking possession of their properties in early 2018.

Whilst enabling works have already begun, it is the letting of the main civil engineering works contracts last year that will now see construction of more substantive engineering works, such as bridges, tunnels, embankments, and viaducts begin on site in 2018. Construction of the railway will continue through to 2026 and will include new stations at Euston, Old Oak Common, and two in Birmingham (Curzon Street and Birmingham Interchange).

Of course there is more to HS2 than just phase 1. The Hybrid Bill for phase 2a, from Fradley in the West Midlands to Crewe in Cheshire, is expected to continue its passage through Parliament this year with a target date for achieving Royal Assent by the end of next year. The Hybrid Bill for Phase 2b (Manchester and Leeds) will not be submitted until next year at the earliest but consultation on the Environmental Impact Assessment is expected to commence this summer.

Piers Collacott, Associate, on what 2018 holds for Crossrail 2:

In July 2017 a joint statement was issued by the Secretary of State and Mayor of London, who agreed that there was no doubt that London needed the additional capacity that Crossrail 2 will deliver, but progress was required on advancing a suitable funding package for delivery, with Chris Grayling keen to see London fund half of the estimated £31billion cost during construction.

In the Autumn budget, the Chancellor reaffirmed the Government’s support, particularly as London Euston will need the additional capacity following the implementation of HS2, but stopped short of committing to fund the scheme.

Looking to the year ahead, we expect that the preferred route map will be finalised and the safeguarding direction may be varied accordingly, and a clear funding mechanism will hopefully be agreed. The plan remains to submit a hybrid bill in 2020, with Royal Assent targeted before the end of 2021. It is hoped that construction will commence in 2022 with the railway opening in 2033.

James Dewey, Head of Compulsory Purchase, on plans for Heathrow’s Third Runway

2018 looks set to be a busy one for the Department of Transport and Heathrow Airports Limited (HAL) as they look to make meaningful progress on plans for the long-proposed third runway.

2017 started well for the proposals with the consultation on the National Policy Statement (NPS) which will set the planning framework for the scheme, closing in May (attracting over 72,000 responses). However, in October 2017, following a period of inactivity, the Government announced the re-opening of the NPS consultation following an update on environmental statements including further noise and air quality analysis. The further consultation closed on 19 December, just in time for Christmas, but HAL’s proposals to carry out the first round of consultation on their scheme by the end of 2017 were thwarted.

The Government has announced that the re-opening of the consultation will not create delay in approving the NPS and it is anticipated that the Transport Select Committee will report on the revised NPS by 23 March, and Parliament will subsequently vote on its adoption during the second quarter of the year. In normal circumstances a Government vote would be expected to result in the NPS being adopted without issue but as we well know these are far from normal circumstances and given the controversy surrounding airport expansion it might not take much for the NPS to stumble at this hurdle.

Meanwhile HAL has announced a non-statutory public consultation to run from 17th January 2018 to 28th March 2018. With Surinder Arora’s alternative proposals being well supported and Gatwick still waiting in the wings (pun intended), navigating the politics is unlikely to be straightforward for HAL, even before they begin the planning process.

The opening of HAL’s consultation process will be a key milestone for both HAL and also for the many businesses and residents affected by the proposals. Whilst HAL have been liaising with key landowners and occupiers over the past year that liaison has been limited in its scope. The consultation provides the first formal opportunity for landowners to engage with HAL in a meaningful manner. Affected parties need to be ready to ‘hit the ground running’ when the consultation opens in January.

HAL has programmed its formal Section 42 consultation process for 2018, ahead of submitting a Development Consent Order in 2019, but that now seems optimistic and if it does happen it will be towards the end of the year.

In conclusion 2018 will be an interesting, and active, year for the provision of a third runway at Heathrow and I think we can expect some turbulence along the way.

William Strickland, Graduate Surveyor, looking at how the development of Garden Villages might help to solve the housing delivery crisis:

During a year in which preparations for Brexit dominated the Government’s attention, ground was remarkably (and deservedly) made on addressing the domestic housing crisis. The Government bemoaned the ‘broken housing market’ in the Housing White Paper in February 2017. Their proposed solution: build more homes!

A month earlier, the Government announced its support for the development of 14 Garden Villages and 3 Garden Towns in England. Combined, they would provide 200,000 additional houses.

What does this mean for 2018? However hard the Government tries, the housing supply crisis will not be solved overnight. 2018 is likely to be a year of planning rather than construction for the Garden Settlements.

Some schemes are further advanced than others; a planning application remains ongoing for Spitalgate Heath (Grantham) and another is due for Halsnead in early-2018, yet preliminary masterplanning will be the main emphasis at many sites, such as at Cullompton and Taunton. It seems, then, that as Dr. Johnson mused, ‘great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.’

Jonathan Stott, Managing Director: In summary, 2018 looks certain to be another interesting year with the volume of work across the housing, infrastructure and regeneration sectors continuing to increase. All of this will doubtless bring the ever-growing skills shortage among surveyors in to sharper focus, but I’m pleased to say that our team is looking in great shape to take on the challenge, with seven new starters last year and a further four surveyors already signed up to join during 2018.

We look forward to continuing to provide an excellent service to our clients and working with colleagues across the various sectors with which we’re involved. So, here’s to a happy new year and may 2018 be a healthy and prosperous one for everybody taking the time to read this article!