Clearview South January 2014 - Issue 146 - Page 71

BUSINESSNEWS HOUSING ACTIVITY EASES A LITTLE NHBC data for the three months to the end of October 2013 shows 31,600 housing starts, 19.0% above the same period in 2012, albeit down 10% from the recent peak seen in July 2013. The affordable sector (24.6% up) performed relatively stronger than the private sector (17.0% up). 26,050 homes were completed in the three-month period, 3.1% more than the same period in 2012. Meanwhile plots under construction now sit at 140,900, 8.6% higher compared to the same time last year. SIMPLIFIED PLANNING TO SPEED UP DELIVERY OF NEW HOMES AND SUPPORT LOCAL JOBS New measures will speed up the delivery of homes by cutting down unnecessary planning processes and providing more certainty about where sensible development should take place. Proposals outlined will boost housebuilding and support businesses keen to expand by removing delays from the planning system, stopping burdensome conditions and cutting the costly red tape often faced by applicants. The changes will also provide more certainty for communities and developers by proposing to make it a legal requirement for local authorities to have a Local Plan in place. This will ensure that councils engage with local people about where homes, businesses and services for their area should be located in the future. Planning Minister Nick Boles said: “These proposals mark an important next step in streamlining the planning system and ensuring it is able to work efficiently to support the development of new homes, infrastructure and jobs we need.” DRIVER AND VEHICLE STANDARDS AGENCY NAMED A new agency with responsibility for maintaining vehicle standards has been launched as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), Transport Minister Robert Goodwill has announced. The new agency, which employs 4,600 people throughout the UK, will replace the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) with responsibilities for setting, testing and enforcing driver and vehicle standards in Great Britain. Robert Goodwill said: “In June the department announced that DSA and VOSA would merge to