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July Draft

The weeks fly by and so the deadline is upon me for this addition of Close Up.

Three months on from the election, and things seem to have settled down.  The Chancellor has wasted no time with his emergency budget with key elements affecting property being around housing supply and relaxing (or seeking to relax) planning issues on brown field (previously developed) sites.  Although the £37billion of further cuts by 2020 got the main headline.

He has stated that there will be a Road Fund of £3billion to improve infrastructure and road quality in the UK.  This is very welcome, but we have no way of yet knowing how our region will benefit.

Connectivity with our markets is essential both physically and electronically.  It is, therefore, very disappointing that the Chancellor has back-tracked on the manifesto promise to electrify the East/West railway line.  HS2 is all very well, but we need continuing improvement in regional connectivity if there is to be a follow through on the Northern Powerhouse.

So getting policy right to generate jobs from which all else follows, should be this Government’s priority.  Headlining relaxing planning rules on brown field sites where no-one wants to live is scratching the surface.  A better start would have been to reverse the policy of charging business rates on empty industrial buildings.  That policy has single handedly prevented development, resulting in a lack of supply at the very time it is needed.  Call me cynical, but as industry does not get a vote – who cares?

Calderdale Council, however, are doing what they can with the Calderdale Business Rate Discount Scheme, which seeks to assist businesses within and relocating in to Calderdale, in bringing forward and unlocking high quality investments in sites and premises (email: businessgrowth@calderdale.gov.uk).

In spite of superficial policy changes, the Northern Powerhouse will probably mature, due little to policy and more to do with the genuine qualities the North has to offer, not least, its people.  Our Chamber of Commerce reports that UK sales and orders remain steady during Q2 and that export sales have regained ground despite adverse exchange rate conditions.

So whilst the figures may say “steady away”, business confidence anecdotally is improving despite some early warnings from Mark Carney of a rise in interest rates, which will start to be factored into business decisions.

It will, therefore, be interesting to see, in the coming months, whether the Northern Powerhouse powers through.

 

Mark S Hanson BSc FRICS

Managing Director

 

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