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What can Brownfield land do for the housing crisis after Brexit?



Brownfield site by Russell Jame Smmith via Flickr

In the context of a post-Brexit Britain, London’s housing crisis is one of many grey thunder clouds hovering over the UK at the moment – one which many thought would burst after the result of June’s referendum, and shower Britain with affordable housing. However, the referendums impact on the housing market hasn’t been quite so straightforward; although house prices in the capital have dipped, we cannot assume that this trend will continue, or benefit more than a few opportunistic buyers.

So it’s back to the drawing board. In 2014, the government announced a £200m fund to build housing on derelict and disused land – known as brownfield sites – across Britain, hoping to provide up to 200,000 new homes.

Pre-Brexit, brownfield sites looked set to offer affordable housing, but is the grass still as green now we’re on the other side of the vote? Can these building schemes still make a difference to the housing crisis?

Construction is more uncertain and more expensive

One of the frustratingly obvious consequences of Brexit is the rise in cost of imports, and a fall in the number of workers coming in from the EU. Both of these events will have a massive impact on the construction industry. As the Evening Standard suggests, increasing the number of costly construction projects, at a time of heightened national anxiety and uncertainty, is likely to reduce the amount of affordable housing being built each year.

Developers, sitting on empty land, may now be less inclined to go ahead with housing construction schemes. In fact, most brownfield land – nine out of every ten sites – have already got development plans in the pipeline. These plans may become frozen indefinitely, until Brexit negotiations relieve uncertainty or establish new trade deals.

Brownfield sites are often very expensive to ready for construction – a price which often escalates dramatically as a result of unforeseen problems with the land. Where the site has been contaminated or left with crumbling derelict buildings, the cost of clearing and building onto the space is high. As a result, the construction projects are only likely to be viable if the price of the new housing is extremely high.

Expensive properties in what are often out of the way, unattractive areas are not desirable for buyers. It’s difficult to see how, post-Brexit, brownfield land can make a significant contribution to the housing crisis and provide affordable homes – even with the financial assistance of government grants.

It’s not just property buyers that will be affected if development ceases

If construction slows or stops, there is a knock-on effect on many other industries and individuals. Businesses within the construction sector are, for example, aware of how commercial property development helps the economy; stunting the growth of one can also seriously stunt the growth of the other.

London crane hire service Emerson Cranes have also raised the issue around the shortage of skilled industrial workers, particularly within construction. They noted that, in order to combat this dearth of labourers, international tradesmen could be offered training courses in their native languages. These efforts, which have the potential to provide the industry with much needed skilled workers, may now be rendered less effective as less EU citizens will be coming into the UK seeking work.

Construction projects which are waiting to be completed, or empty properties awaiting renovation, may end up sitting empty for long periods of time. This sustains, rather than solves, the housing crisis while also introducing new risks to surrounding communities. In this abandoned condition, as property protection experts Oaksure point out, these buildings can attract crime and vandalism, which can be expensive to repair and insure against.

Focusing on clearing and repairing existing empty properties in critical areas such as London could in itself be a way to tackle the housing crisis. But building on brownfield sites in this economic environment risks creating more empty properties, which will only introduce additional costs to an already strained and concerned industry.



Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family



Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace --

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life



how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By --

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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