UK economic recovery plan is Build Build Build

UK PM vowed to “use this moment” to fix longstanding economic problems and promised a £5bn “new deal” to build homes and infrastructure.

In a wide-ranging speech in Dudley, in the West Midlands, Mr Johnson vowed to “build, build, build” to soften the “economic aftershock” of coronavirus.

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He said the government wanted to continue with its plans to “level up” – one of its main slogans of last December’s election – as “too many parts” of the country had been “left behind, neglected, unloved”.

Infrastructure projects in England would be “accelerated” and there would be investment in new academy schools, green buses and new broadband, the PM added.

Projects in the £5bn investment plan include:

  • £1.5bn for hospital maintenance and building, eradicating mental health dormitories and improving A&E capacity – the government said this is “new” money in addition to £1.1bn in its Spring Budget
  • £100m for 29 road projects including bridge repairs in Sandwell and improving the A15 in the Humber region – this money had already been announced
  • Over £1bn for new school buildings, as announced on Monday – this cash comes from the government’s existing infrastructure plan
  • £12bn to help build 180,000 new affordable homes for ownership and rent over the next eight years – brings together three pots of money already announced by previous Tory governments and Mr Johnson’s administration

Other projects announced in the government’s Spring Budget, which will now be accelerated, include:

  • £83m for maintenance of prisons and youth offender facilities, and £60m for temporary prison places.
  • £900m for “shovel ready” local projects in England this year and in 2021
  • £500,000 – £1m for each area in the towns fund to spend on improvements to parks, high street and transport

Source: BBC News

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Wales launches climate change blueprint

A five-year blueprint to tackle climate change in Wales has been launched by the Welsh Government.

Prosperity for All: A Climate Conscious Wales sets out plans to improve flood defences, secure water supplies, and other environmental improvements.

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Environment minister Lesley Griffiths said the plan is “challenging”.

But Welsh Conservative Andrew RT Davies said “questions must be answered” over if the plans are “workable” and “economically viable”.

The plans build on the climate emergency declaration made earlier this year and Wales’ first climate change conference, the Welsh Government said.

Ms Griffiths added: “But we must all adapt and we must all commit to protect our nation for current and future generations.

“Success will mean Wales is a climate conscious nation, aware of the risks facing us, whilst being prepared and ready to adapt to the impacts before they occur.”

The proposals include:

  • Building defences to guard against flooding and coastal erosion
  • Protecting water supplies from drought
  • Reducing the use of pesticides
  • Growing more woodland
  • Creating more open spaces
  • The creation of 25,000 more energy efficient homes by 2021

Source: BBC News

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How to identify damp in your house

Damp is one of the last things we want to face at home. It doesn’t matter if we’re a homeowner or a renter, it’s not a good thing. It can make a room feel cold, unwelcoming and unhealthy, and at worst it can mean structural or weatherproofing issues.

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Structural dampness is the presence of unwanted moisture in the structure of a building, either the result of intrusion from outside or condensation from within the structure. A high proportion of damp problems in buildings are caused by ambient climate dependent factors of condensation and rain penetration. Capillary penetration of water from the ground up through concrete or masonry is known as Rising Damp.

From condensation to penetrating damp and the dreaded rising damp, different types of damp present different problems, below is how you can identify defects that will cause damp in your house and fix them on time before they cause structural and health issues.

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Damp checks

  • Flashings at junctions to roofs and chimneys.
  • Uncapped pots to open chimneys.
  • Badly eroded mortar joints to brick or stonework in walls.
  • Leaking gutters, downpipes and overflow pipes.
  • Leaks around windows and door flames.
  • Windowsills that don’t project out from the wall sufficiently, or have eroded drip grooves underneath.
  • Garden shrubs or mounds of earth banked up against walls.
  • A lack of ventilation indoors allowing a build-up of condensation from steamy kitchens and bathroom.


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UK new build prices soars at 10 times more than existing homes

New build property prices are increasing at more than 10 times the rate as those for existing housing stock.

The typical cost of a new build home in England is rising at an annual rate of 4.3%, while property values for existing homes have edged ahead by just 0.3%, according to the latest figures from the Land Registry.

The trend is seen across all regions of England, with the average new build property costing £316,789, compared with £245,173 for other homes.

In many parts of the country property values for the two different property types are moving in opposite directions.

While house prices have fallen year-on-year for existing housing stock in London, the south east, the north east and the east of England, the cost of a new build home has jumped by as much as 3.6%.

Source: Zoopla property news

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Help to Buy: First time buyers overpaying an average of 10%

Thinking of using the Help to Buy scheme? Be sure to weigh up the pros and cons – and check you’re not overpaying – before taking the plunge.

First-time buyers could be paying a premium of up to 22% if they use the government’s Help to Buy scheme to purchase a home, a study has found.

It showed that the average person taking their first step on the property ladder using the Help to Buy equity loan initiative paid £303,450 for their home – 10.3% more than those who bought without using the scheme.

The premium paid by first-time buyers using Help to Buy was more than double this level in Yorkshire and the West Midlands at more than 20%, according to Reallymoving.

Its chief executive, Rob Houghton said many first-time buyers find it difficult to raise a deposit and, as a consequence, are turning to Help to Buy – a scheme which operates only under the new-build sector where homes can command higher prices.

He adds that this is in addition to a premium applied for buying under Help to Buy.

“In many cases, first-time buyers simply don’t have the deposit required to explore other options, such as buying a second-hand home, which may offer considerably better value,” he said.

Source: Zoopla Property News


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2019 UK Award winning House in the Garden

Located in the back garden of a 19th Century townhouse, House in a Garden replaces a dilapidated 1960s bungalow with a contemporary home that places attention to detail and manipulation of natural light at the heart of the scheme.

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Overshadowed by houses on three sides and a large plane tree within the garden, 3-D modelling techniques were used from the outset to test ideas and evolve the building’s architecture.

Upon arrival through a narrow entrance route to the side of the townhouse, you are immediately struck by the wonderous single storey pavilion-like structure that sits within the pocket garden. A series of light wells are discreetly integrated within the landscape setting to maximise natural light to the floors below.

The primary architectural feature comprises the sculptural copper roof made up of prefabricated glue laminated timbers exposed internally that appear to float above walls of full height glazing. Rising up within the centre of the living area, the complex double curvature of the tent-like structure concludes in a glazed OCUIUS that enables sunlight to track across the immaculate internal environment. Externally, the funnel-shaped copper roof is visible from adjoining properties providing a welcome addition to the neighbourhood while respecting surrounding apartment owners’ privacy and access to daylight.

From the ground floor living and dining space a suspended wooden staircase leads down to the bedrooms below. These spaces receive light from the two generous greenery-filled light wells that permeate through the two floors below ground. The lowest floor provides a 10m swimming pool and gallery-style sitting area for exercise and relaxation.

At every turn, the quality and refinement of the materials palette and deftness of detailing is apparent. From the extensive use of grooved panels of grey Carrara marble and Douglas fir timbers to the impeccable kitchen comprising copper cabinets and splash backs, these combine to give a strong sensual quality to the interiors.

In conclusion, the building offers a clever response to a unique set of circumstances, where natural light has been enthusiastically embraced to inform and direct the development of an accomplished piece of architecture.

Internal Area 253 m²

Contractor New Wave

Structural Engineer Built Engineers

Environmental / M&E Engineer Pearce and Associates

Landscape Architect Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant Leslie Clark

Lighting Design Isometrix




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Source: RIBA London Award 2019

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

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