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THE HOME FRONT: Stats That Then

Statistics-made-up-for-trade-showsSTATS THAT THEN: Figuring out the housing market.

Welcome to the world of the home statistic – where simply we look at the housing market in terms of £s and pence and numbers with those trailing noughts.

There’s always more to a trend than meets the eye – and our obsession with the property market is no different in this regard.

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housesCASH IS KING: Property values reached record highs in the East and West Midlands mirroring a nationwide surge, according to the Office for National Statistics.

UK figures rose to a new peak of £195,166 on average in May, surpassing an all-time high of £193,048 the previous month.

And a buy-to-let boom and older couples downsizing has seen the number of properties bought without a mortgage soar to a new high – almost four in ten.

A record 38 per cent of property sales in the first three months of the year were in cash, according to Nationwide building society.

Just one in five – or around 20 per cent – of houses in Britain were bought in cash in mid-2006 as banks and building societies issued record numbers of mortgages.

The biggest proportion of cash buyers was in the north-east of England, followed by the south-west.

Meanwhile UK mortgage approvals rose to their highest level for 14 months in April, new research shows.

There was a 10 per cent rise in the number of mortgages to 68,706 in April, approved for house purchases from March to April, the biggest month-on-month increase since 2009.

But this is way below a peak of 129,996 in November 2006, the Bank of England said.

One interesting stat . . . 70 per cent of bank loans are mortgages with a further 10 per cent being for commercial property.

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BUSY HOME LIFE: Property activity, post the May 7 general election, is busy – to say the least.

Some 54 per cent of building firms are reporting a rise in output in the first quarter of 2015, according to the Construction Trade Survey, which collects data across six major associations including the National Federation of Builders and the Federation of Master Builders.

Property developers are set to build a FIFTH more homes in the coming months compared to last year, figures from the National House Building Council reveal.

Some 40,281 new homes were registered by house builders between January and March this year compared to 34,163 in the first quarter of last year. The number, however, is still below the 53,420 new homes registered during the first quarter of 2007, when the property market was reaching its peak.

Meanwhile, the UK’s second-largest listed property company, by market capitalisation, has unveiled a sharp jump in the value of its portfolio as investors’ demand for real estate pushes up prices.

The value of British Land properties rose 12.1 per cent to £13.6billion, with its residential and office holdings up 18.8 per cent, “reflecting buoyant markets” the company said. Pre-tax profits rose 64 per cent to £1.8bn.

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recordRECORD LOW: UK mortgage lenders have been vying for pole position as rates have tumbled.

Now the Yorkshire Building Society is offering the lowest rate ever recorded in the UK, according to experts.

The two-year fixed deal of 1.07 per cent, linked to a 35 per cent deposit and a ‘product fee’ of £1,369, has overtaken the previous all-time low set by the Co-operative Bank of 1.09 per cent with a 40 per cent deposit and £1,499 fee.

Arguably there has never been a better time to be in the housing market with six years of base lending rates at a record low of 0.5 per cent and the UK officially in negative inflation for the first time since 1960.

Nationwide CEO Graham Beale says he expects a “stronger” UK housing market this year, with one proviso that EU referendum concerns don’t impact on sentiment.

London is experiencing crazy house prices – now 39 per cent above the 2008 peak.

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09stats30CRY ‘FREEDOM RENT DAY’: Private tenants do a jig around the start of this month as a significant milestone in their yearly ‘toil’ has been reached.

By now they usually have earned enough money to cover their annual rent, according to the Halifax.

Londoners, however, will have to wait until July 8 before they reach Rent Freedom Day (RFD).

Plumstead is the cheapest place you’ll find to rent a two-bedroom flat in the capital – the average rent in London being £1,143 a month. It’s SEVEN times more expensive in Mayfair.

Halifax also reckons that a typical UK home now costs £196,412 to buy.

Mortgages are cheaper than ever. The average cost of a two-year fixed rate mortgage is 1.91 per cent, with a 40 per cent deposit. Cheapest fixed rate loan is 1.09 per cent with the Co-operative Bank.

House building is up and running in 2015.

The National House Building Council reports that 40,281 new homes were registered between January and March – the highest three-monthly total since before the financial crash in 2007.

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redboxFIRST CLASS STAMP DUTY: Chancellor George Osborne has one “first class” reason to be cheerful ahead of tomorrow’s Budget.

For stamp duty revenues are set to hit a record £8billion in the current financial year thanks to a soaring housing market – leaving the occupier of 11 Downing Street the opportunity to open his ‘red box’ more than just ajar.

Stamp duty takings across the UK “comfortably exceeded” the £6.68bn peak at the height of the property boom in 2007-2008, calculations based on a report from the Office for Budget Responsibility by mortgage lending giant Halifax suggest.

December’s new stamp duty system made it cheaper for 98 per cent of buyers with duty being due on all properties over £125,000.

With house prices rising significantly in the last 12 months, more homes have qualified for the tax – putting more money into the Treasury’s coffers in the current financial year.

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DATE FOR THE DIARY: April 6, 2015 could be a DFD-day for the property market in the UK.

From that day next month, people over 55 with a pension will be able to go on a “spending spree” – without restrictions.

Those who want to convert the value of the pension into something more profitable won’t be limited to turning it into annuities.

You will be free to draw funds down (dfd) as cash and spend it as you like.

The new change in the financial regulations are set to further stimulate the housing market, particularly buy-to-let demand, giving an anticipated boost to future price increases.

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HIF, HIF HOORAY: The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (HIF) is a huge government cash giveaway available to anyone to encourage energy efficiency.

The first £120million went in July last year went in just six weeks, while another £30m lasted a shade over ONE DAY when it hit the market before Christmas.

Yesterday another tranche of HIF cash (up to £5,600 for each application) was up for grabs.

Any takers for giving your home a cavity wall insulation makeover?

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EUREOEURO ON A WINNER: The Brits are back in town  . . . in Spain, Portugal and France.

And experts reckon the increase in interest by UK citizens looking for a second home on the continent is down to the euro being DOWN.

Since the start of this year, the European currency has weakened by eight per cent with the figure rising to 14 per cent over the last 12 months.

The pound to euro exchange rate is tipped to reach €1.40 to the pound, a lot better than the €1.10 achieved in April 2011.

Home seekers looking at properties in the €200,000 region (£150,000) are saving around £15,000 on prices from a year ago.

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TIMES A-CHANGIN’: Salaries have failed to keep pace with house prices in the last 35 years.

A Wimpey-built bungalow in the North East cost around £4,000 to buy in 1969. Today it would cost 48 times that – at a shade under £200,000.

In the same period this increase dwarfs the growth in first-time buyer incomes, which have risen only 29 times from £1,600 per annum to £47,574, according to Shelter .

Last year the number of over-65s in the UK stood at 11.4 million. By 2033 it will be 17 million while the nation’s housing stock does not reflect the ageing population with only around 110,000 retirement properties available to buy. Many more are needed suitable for ageing single people and couples.

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HIT AND MISSED: Zoopla Property claimed it received record numbers of consumer visits last month but there’s a big BUT . . .

For advertising members for a four-month period, to the end of January, has fallen by 11 per cent over the past year to 16,967.

And following the launch of rival portal On The Market on January 26, Zoopla expects agent numbers to drop by a further 18.4 per cent in 2015 to around 13,400 (previously that estimate was around 10 per cent).

The Hawkins group joined On The Market on its opening day of business  . . .

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stats3UP AND RUNNING: Housebuilder Permisson’s revenues topped £2.6billion last year, up almost 25 per cent.

The York-based group reported a 44 per cent increase in underlying profit before tax to £475m (2013: £330m) and in spite of uncertainty surrounding the May 7 General Election, it says 2015 has started “well”  with forward sales running five per cent ahead of 2014.

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BUILDING AFFORDABLE NEW HOMES: Rents in the emirate of Dubai have soared by 50 per cent in the last two years.

But there’s a big ‘but’ as the city municipality is now having to introduce mandatory affordable housing quotas for all new residential developments.

The long overdue move has been welcomed with Cluttons Middle East CEO Steve Morgan admitting: “The issue of affordability has been one that has been quietly bubbling away in the background for some time.”

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bifappAMERICA’S DOING JUICE FINE: The Big Apple came out as the “cherry on top” of the world’s luxury property market last year.

The ‘high-end’ homes price guide saw U.S. cities dominate the top of the rankings with New York taking number one spot.

The value of prime residential property in America’s financial centre soared 18.8 per cent between December 2013 and December 2014, more than NINE times the global average price growth of two per cent.

Four of the top 10 spots went to the United States, with Aspen (16 per cent) second and San Francisco (sixth) and Los Angeles (10th) in the Prime International Residential Index.

And across the US, average luxury property prices rose almost 13 per cent, pushing it way ahead of the competition in Europe, which achieved an average of 2.5 per cent growth.

Even London’s prime property market, after recent hikes in stamp duty affected the rate of price growth for homes worth more than £2milllion, saw its overall prime price only increase 5.1 per cent over the year.

By contrast, Asia, which had four markets in the top 10 in the previous year, had just one this time.

Beijing and Guangzhou, previously in the top 10, have now slipped to the middle of the index – which tracks the price performance of 100 of the world’s key luxury markets. Singapore has sunk almost to the bottom of the charts.

Despite the slowdown in China’s economy, wealthy emigrants from the mainland continue to be a significant force in global luxury real estate market.

Around 76,200 Chinese millionaires are estimated to have emigrated or acquired alternative citizenship in between 2003 and 2013.

Going forward, Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey will become major suppliers of ultra-high net worth individuals hungry to buy high-end international property, the report says.

The leading 10 are:
1) New York
2) Aspen
3) Bali
4) Istanbul
5) Abu Dhabi
6) San Francisco
7) Dublin
8) Cape Town
9) Muscat
10) Los Angeles

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mostex6MAKING A VALUABLE POINT: From Tokyo to Toronto and London to Leipzig – it’s the same the whole world over.

There are homes and then there are EXPENSIVE ones and a list of the planet’s priciest properties has just been complied.

Point2 Homes selected the dearest in 25 different countries from Japan at £5million; the UK at £60m; America at £120m and a five-storey penthouse in Monaco touching £250m, pictured.

mostexpHYDE AND SEEK: By comparison, Britain’s most expensive ‘solo’ apartment comes in at £10million.

The one-bedroomed flat is up for sale in a plush block right by London’s Hyde Park and very close to the home of department stores – Harrods.

The duplex, which has a double bedroom and en-suite bathroom on the lower level and an open plan living area with kitchen and washroom upstairs, is in One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge, central London.

It would cost a buyer some £6,300 per square metre – the highest asking price in UK housing history for a one-bedder.

Developers Christian and Nick Candy opened the 86-flat complex six years ago.

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leeds castleGOING HOME?: That oft-quoted saying ‘An Englishman’s Home Is His Castle’ may have seen better days.

For the nation’s pride and joy – the ownership of a property – is at its lowest level since Maggie Thatcher was at the height of her political powers in the mid-1980s.

Some 22.6 million households in England were owner-occupied in 2013-14, according to the English Housing Survey published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

That’s a total 63 per cent of households – down two percentage points compared with the previous year and the worst figures since 1986.

Home ownership was on the rise almost continuously throughout the 20th century but has been declining since 2003.

While more people now own their home outright than with a mortgage, the younger generations are feeling the economic squeeze most with the 25-34 age group ownership falling from 59 per cent in 2004 to just 36 per cent last year.

But renting’s on a roll. Over the same period, the proportion renting, either privately or through a local authority or housing association, increased from 41 per cent to 64 per cent.

For 16 to 24 year olds, the proportion renting increased from 76 per cent to 91 per cent.

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cash_2389248bLUMPING IT: London is experiencing a surge in rented accommodation as buyers hold off a purchase in the capital until after the May 7 General Election with worries on a possible mansion tax coupled with the new, progressive stamp duty.

As a result one woman from China, in her mid-20s, has paid £3.9million UPFRONT for five years rent at a Knightsbridge apartment – the equivalent of £15,000 a week.

The UK’s buy-to-let saw a massive upturn last month, rising 37 per cent in activity from December’s poor figures and outperforming the rest of Britain’s housing market.

Meanwhile, investment in commercial property in the UK has reached a new record peak of £65billion, new research reveals.

There’s been a 16 per cent increase on 2013’s £55bn peak with Britain as the world’s second largest commercial property market, accounting for almost a fifth of all global transactions and surpassing the 2006 record of £63bn.

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1966 AND ALL THAT: Developer St Modwen has seen its profits before tax rise by more than two-thirds over a 12-month period.

Announcing its annual results for the year ended November 30, the Birmingham-based firm revealed profit before all tax of £138.1million (2013: £82.2m with property profits up 45 per cent to £57.7m (2013: £39.8m).

St Modwen, formed when England won the World Cup in 1966, has also benefited from a resurgent residential market with housebuilding activities delivering a 167 per cent increase in profits to £24m (2013: £9m).

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haunted£346 A WEEK, FOR KEEPS: Well not quite, but a nice try.

This seven-bedroom pile is the archetypal “Englishman’s home is his castle” with turrets, ramparts and breath-taking views.

The property is attached to the ruins of a medieval castle on the outskirts of Haltwhistle, Northumberland, overlooking the Tynedale Valley.

Part of the Bellister Estate, owned by Robert de Ros and his descendants from 1191 to 1295, it was converted into a mock-Gothic family residence by architect John Dobson in the 1830s to offer the country gent the chance to live in a stately home in miniature.

Bellister Castle has been owned by the National Trust since 1976, and is available to rent unfurnished on a long-term contract for £346 a week (£1,500 per month) subject to a £2,500 deposit.

Local folklore suggests at least one of the current inhabitants is planning to stay as, according to reports, it’s haunted by the ‘Grey Man’ – the ghost of a minstrel who, having been unjustly accused of being a spy, was eaten alive by hounds as he fled the castle.

Certainly one “sitting tenant” who wouldn’t be worried by the date . . . Friday the 13th.

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STATS1HOLMES WRECKER: It may have been elementary in their day but Sherlock Holmes and Watson might be struggling to make ends meet in the letting world of today’s housing market.

For the fictional flat with two comfortable bedrooms and a single, large airy sitting room at 221b Baker Street, London, would now set the Victorian sleuths back about £10,000 a month in rent in circa 2015.

Other fictional homeowners who could be out on their ears include Paddington bear – with the Browns’ four bedroom townhouse at 32 Windsor Gardens costing £7,000 per calendar month.

His word may be his Bond – but that Skyfall residence of gothic stone in the Scottish Highlands would be £8,000pcm.

Harry Potter’s three bed small dwelling under the stairs at 4, Privet Drive, Surrey, would be £1,200 a month with Wallace & Gromit’s large four bed detached house in 62 West Wallby Street in Wigan coming in at a more economical £850 a month.

All seem a bit “pie in the Sky” but a fun exercise conducted by easyproperty.com

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STATS2BULLSEYE IN NEW YORK: The Big Apple’s housing market may not be in the league of darts legend Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor yet – but watch this space.

For a penthouse in New York – with the catchy title of One57 – has gone for $100.5million, making it the most expensive apartment ever sold in NYC and the first to top the $100million mark.

Located on the 89th and 90th floors of the 1,004-foot-tall residence, the penthouse has six bedrooms, a steam room, a library and an indoor movie theatre.

Residents will also be able to use the Park Hyatt hotel amenities — which makes up the first 39 floors of the buildings — but if they don’t want to mix with the commoners, One57 owners can turn to their own 20,000sq ft amenities floor complete with a pool, gym, library and theatre.

And there’s a Brucie Bonus for the new One57 owners – as the apartment will also receive a 95 per cent tax CUT, saving the mystery buyer an estimated $360,000 in taxes annually, according to The New York Times.

The perk comes from a controversial housing programme known as 421-a. It offers huge tax breaks for luxury properties that can last up to 25 years as long as the developers also build affordable and moderate-income apartments.

If you think $100 million may be too much for a home, New York’s priciest penthouse will most likely prove to be a cool investment as more expensive homes continue to hit the market.

Already, a tower on 520 Park Avenue has a penthouse on the market for $130million, and prices are only expected to climb.

One day someone will be paying “One Hundred and Eighty” million in dollar bills for an apartment . . .

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thunder2F.A.B. FINALLY: It’s more like 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 rather than five, four, three, two, one . . .

But at least after a decade, the futuristic home of Thunderbirds fan Eddie Mitchell is finally up, up and away.

The iconic mid-1960s British sci-fi television series, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, was the starting point for Mr Mitchell’s dream house – inspired by the fictional base of International Rescue Centre on Tracy Island.

The managing director of a company called Seven Developments used the model of Tracy Island, from the TV puppet show he had loved as a child, to create the remarkable one-off residence back in 2005.

thunder4Although no missiles have ever been fired from home base – the house boasts five en-suite bedrooms, three bathrooms, a cinema room, a luxury fitted kitchen and a large living space spanning across the ground floor.

Located in the highly sought after Branksome Park area of Poole in Dorset, there is also an outdoor swimming pool, gym and a triple car garage, as well as a large private garden to explore.

The property has also won a number of awards, including best private home in the 2006 National Home Builder Design awards.

But the £4million price tag for the out-of-this-world home, which was cut by £1million when listed for sale by Sotheby’s Realty, still didn’t bring any takers.

Now oil drilling consultancy boss Julian Jones has snapped up the property for a reported £1.9million – leaving no profit for its creator.

And the property’s new owner may be able to see his pad rocket in value – as a new re-make, Thunderbirds Are Go!, will be broadcast this year on Children’s ITV – some 50 years after the original.

The new Thunderbirds Are Go! will feature Rosamund Pike as Lady Penelope and a 90-year-old David Graham reprising his role as chauffeur and international rescue agent Parker.

THUNDER1Jamie Anderson, son of Thunderbirds’ creator Gerry Anderson, visited ITV News Central recently, telling news presenters Bob Warman and Sameena Ali-Khan about the much-loved series and the comeback plans.

Mr Anderson also spoke about the preparation underway for Andercon, an annual convention for worldwide fans, which is being held in Leicester later this year.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIT’S A STEAL AT £370m: The property with probably the most famous old telephone number in the UK has been sold to overseas’ developers – for £120million MORE than its guide price?

New Scotland Yard – headquarters of the Metropolitan Police since 1967 – has been bought by the Abu Dhabi Financial Group to create a “world-class development”.

The property was put on the market by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in September, for a guide price of £250m.
The Met bought the site in 2008 for £120 million and has been able to cash in on London’s crazy housing prices – tripling its money in six years at a sale price of £370million.

London Mayor Boris Johnson says the landmark deal on the property in Victoria Street, Westminster will “preserve the past while giving today’s Met a vital cash boost.”

For lovers of telephony history, in the old days to make a phone call you would pick up the handset and speak to an operator who would then make the connection for you.

scotlandyardOne of the most famous things to say down the phone was to ask for Whitehall 1212 — the official phone number for the police at Scotland Yard since 1932.

You can’t pick up a phone and speak to an operator any more, but over the years, the phone number, though all its code changes, has basically remained unchanged.

Direct dialling without asking the operator was introduced in the UK in the late 1950s, and the area codes corresponded to the letters on the rotary telephone.

So, instead of asking the operator for Whitehall 1212, you could dial WHI 1212, which happened to be 944 1212.

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vandaFROM 33 MINUTES TO JUST ONE CORNETTO: Buying that all-important wedding dress for the day of your dreams, the corner sofa unit or even a second-hand VW Beetle can seemingly take an eternity.

But buying a home is an entirely different pace-setter, it appears.

It may be the biggest purchase of your life but taking your time – hours, days or even weeks – are not an option, according to latest research.

For in 2013 the average buyer spent took just 33 minutes to view a property before boldly going for an offer.

The Aviva poll suggests that the current housing market is forcing some buyers to make snap decisions – with one in four making just one viewing beforehand.

While most folk may only move house once or twice in their lifetime – spare a thought for mother-of-three Vanda James.

She’s ‘property-hopped’ a staggering 56 times in just 13 years but insists she is not fussy and desperately wants a place to settle in that she can call home.

She’s had many reasons for upping sticks including an amorous housemate. In one flat, shared with an ice-cream seller, she lasted just a few days because she had to sleep in a bed surrounded by boxes of Cornettos.

She even moved to New Zealand – but returned to Britain after a week as her family missed her.

Now back in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, where she raised her three grown-up children, Ms James hopes her days of packing up boxes are over.

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ONE OVER THE EIGHT: More than 365,000 people moved home in the UK last year – up an encouraging EIGHT per cent on 2013.

The market was also helped by an EIGHT per cent increase in average house prices in 2014, according to Lloyds Bank which complied the new stats.

Since 2009, average house prices have increased by more than a quarter (26 per cent) from £199,645 to £252,064 in 2014 – an increase of £52,418.

Recent changes to the stamp duty system have also reduced the average tax bill from £7,561 to £2,603.

Potential “second steppers”, who bought their first home four years and five months ago in 2010, are estimated to now have an average equity level of £76,131.

Despite the pick-up in recent years, the number of completions last year was still less than half the all-time high recorded in 2004 (886,700) and just over half the average during between 2004 and 2007 (717,025).

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stats01RIGHT TIME OF YEAR: It may be blowing a gale outside . . . with ‘thundersnow’ forecast . . . and a yellow alert on flooding.

But that doesn’t, it seems, put off the UK’s Intrepid Househunter.

Like the Canadian Mounties always getting their man, it seems we can’t wait for the spring to arrive before venturing out to view properties.

In fact we must be getting hardened to all this Global Warming malarkey as new research reveals we made 69.7million (yes that 69,700,000) visits to Rightmove’s property portal in the first month of 2014.

And that was 29 per cent UP on January the year before.

Despite post-Christmas lethargy (even out-and-out blues) we managed to call up estate agents via the website an incredible FOUR MILLION times in a month for the first time.

While it’s accepted we DON’T look for new homes over Christmas, we really DO decide to change our lifestyle – going freelance, looking at commuting to work or plain downsizing – as Big Ben strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve.

And all of the above involves a move . . .

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66,300: That’s the number of new homes planned for Leeds in a house-building programme which takes the city up to the year 2030.

The proposals by Leeds City Council allocate sites for 35,600 new homes, which add to sites for 30,700 homes that have already been identified.

Of those, about 3,000 have already been built since March 2012 – when the proposals began to be formulated – while the rest have planning permission.

The local authority of the UK’s third largest city and regional ‘capital’ of Yorkshire, has identified 763 sites across its boundaries, of which 62 per cent are on brownfield land, 18 per cent on greenfield and 20% on green belt.

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stats02HOME RULE: Napoleon called us a nation of shopkeepers, although today he might think we’re the world’s greatest grocery store shoppers.

One aspect of our living not in doubt is that ‘home’ is at the heart of everything we do.

And, ironically, figures from a faraway source – China’s National Bureau of Statistics – reveals that the UK’s urban home ownership rates stand at an impressive 66.7 per cent.

So two thirds of Britons own, or are buying, their own homes in our towns and cities.

But our stat pales into insignificance behind China’s home rule revelations.

According to a study by the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, some 87 per cent of Chinese people own their own homes in the urban sprawls.

And this figure rises to 97 per cent for rural home ownership.

In the urban home ownership table – China leads the field ahead of the UK, followed by America, France, Japan, Korea and Germany.

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MUCH-NEEDED FACILITY: A north Warwickshire town has been singled out for the creation of a new residential centre for “supported living”.

Warwickshire County Council has sold Beada House, on Newtown Road, Bedworth, to HB Villages as part of a £2.5million investment proposal.

And HB Villages has successfully applied for planning permission to extend and change the use of the property from offices to residential.

August is the scheduled opening date for the building which will be converted to accommodate 16 supported living units for vulnerable adults with enduring mental health needs.

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stats03aMARSALA HELPS US WORK, REST AND PLAY: Pantone has announced its 2015 Colour Of the Year.

And it’s called Marsala – a reddish brown hue named after a wine produced in the Italian city of Marsala in Sicily.
“Nurturing and fulfilling, Marsala is a natural fit for the kitchen and dining room — making it ideal for tabletop, small appliances, and linens throughout the home,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute which has helped decide the colour for the last 14 years.

It’s all serious business as Pantone vice president Lisa Herbert added: “We deliver the news in a sealed envelope, and we have our representatives go out to partner companies in their trench coats with their suitcases.

“They have to sign a confidentiality agreement and the colour cannot be revealed until we say so.”

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