Planning

The Chancellor’s Budget and The Mayor’s London Plan

The Budget announcement included the confirmation of the new UK Infrastructure Bank to be based in Leeds and supported by an initial £12bn of capital investment, the new Help to Grow scheme and the new super-deduction.

What we know about the Infrastructure Bank is that it will provide financing support across the UK, offering a range of financing tools including debt, hybrid products, equity and guarantees to support private infrastructure projects. It will begin operating in spring 2021. The Help to Grow scheme will offer up to 130,000 companies across the UK a digital and management boost and will rely on access to digital infrastructure, and a new 130% first-year capital allowance for qualifying plant and machinery assets (super-deduction) with a 50% first-year allowance for qualifying special rate assets. This is expected to cut companies’ tax bill by 25p for every £1 they invest in new equipment. (more…)

DCMS consultation on changes to the Electronic Communications Code

DCMS has published a consultation on changes to the Electronic Communications Code (ECC) which is the legal framework underpinning agreements between landowners and communications operators in the UK. The Code was substantially reformed in 2017 to make it easier and faster for apparatus to be deployed, maintained, shared and upgraded in rural areas, balancing the need for digital infrastructure with the rights of landowners and other site providers. (more…)

Public Accounts Committee report: Improving Broadband

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published its report Improving Broadband. It states that the revised target of at least 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025 is challenging and there is a risk that the very hardest to reach premises will be struggling with slow broadband for many years to come. Other concerns include the lack of detail about how the £1.2bn of the £5bn funding will be used to support the roll-out to the hardest-to-reach 20% of the UK’s 31m premises, and the slow progress in delivering the policy and legislative changes sought by industry. The report sets out the PAC’s conclusions and recommendations.

It is worth noting that gigabit-capable broadband networks (FTTP and DOCSIS 3.1) now cover 37.4% of UK premises, which is an increase from 22.1% six months ago.    (more…)

2020-21 Spending Review and National Infrastructure Strategy

In his Spending Review statement today, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that borrowing is expected to reach £394bn for the current fiscal year (19% of GDP) which is the highest recorded level of borrowing in peacetime. He spoke of three priorities: getting the country through coronavirus, stronger public services and delivering record investment plans in infrastructure (including faster broadband for over five million premises in the UK and 4G mobile coverage to 95%). The government also confirmed £3bn for a three-year Restart programme to help a million people who have been unemployed for over a year to find jobs. A levelling up pot of £4bn will also be available for local infrastructure projects. (more…)

Government guidance to drive 5G and fibre deployment

DCMS and MCHLG updated valuation guidance to facilitate siting of digital infrastructure 

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman and Local Government Minister Simon Clarke have today written to local authorities setting out how they can help boost gigabit broadband rollout and 5G mobile coverage, pointing to new government advice on land access and valuations. The advice aims for quicker deals that grant access for new digital infrastructure, such as 5G masts and full fibre broadband cabinets on public land, and with reasonable rents attached.

 While councils are obliged to get ‘best value’ when agreeing land access agreements, non-monetary benefits such as enhanced connectivity for residents to work from home and SMEs to trade online, should be taken into account, as highlighted in our report ‘Impact at a local level of full-fibre and 5G investments’.  (more…)

Government announces £1.3bn investment to deliver homes, infrastructure and jobs

The funding announced by MHCLG and BEIS will provide up to 45,000 homes, create up to 85,000 jobs and upgrade skills and infrastructure to help fuel a green economic recovery.

A new £2bn Green Homes Grant scheme will fund up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvements of over 600,000 homes. Over 300 successful “shovel-ready” projects in England will receive a share of the £900m Getting Building Fund to build homes and infrastructure. A further £360m investment will deliver 26,000 new homes on brownfield land and £8 million of funding will help speed up the delivery of the new homes on brownfield sites. Government is inviting bids from the Mayoral Combined Authorities for the remaining £40 million of the fund. (more…)

Mobile planning reforms and changes to Permitted Development Rights

In August last year DCMS and MHCLG launched a consultation proposing reforms to permitted development rights to support the deployment of 5G and extend mobile coverage. BSG responded in favour of the proposals.

Government has determined that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the proposed reforms would have a positive impact on the government’s ambitions for the deployment of 5G and extending mobile coverage.  (more…)