Cornwall mulls second home 'tax penalty'

Reports that property owners who leave their homes empty for more than two years in Cornwall could be 'hit with a 150 per cent council tax bill' feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Telegraph reports the "tax penalty", being considered by Cornwall Council, would "affect up to 3,200 properties in the county which are currently not being used, and could add up to £700 to annual council tax bills". The paper says a 10-member cabinet within Cornwall Council supported the proposals at a meeting yesterday. "The plans are subject to further scrutiny by the council before they are voted on by all 123 members of the council on 11 December," according to the newspaper.

The Treasury is to unveil its remodelled version of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) "shortly", the Financial Times (subscription) reports. The newspaper says that there could be changes to the existing model including "investing small amounts of public capital into PFI projects to increase its control over the process". However, the newspaper adds that key elements of the PFI are likely to remain, "including the system of private companies building projects using private finance then being paid over the long term".

The Guardian looks back at the history of the Earls Court exhibition centre which is facing demolition under regeneration plans for the surrounding area. The paper says the building was designed by Detroit architect C Howard Crane, "conjurer of fanciful picture palaces across America". It says the exhibition hall "was the biggest indoor space in Europe when it opened in 1937. A deft feat of engineering, spanning four different railway tracks, the gargantuan column-free arena was designed to seat 23,000 and contained a 60m-long swimming pool – which could be transformed into a flat-floor exhibition space at the touch of a button".

The Times’ City Diary column
(subscription) reports on the launch of a consultation into energy developer EDF Energy’s plans for a new nuclear reactor at Sizewell on the Suffolk coast. The column says the consultation "gushes" that a proposed visitors’ centre "would be likely to attract wider tourist interest, given its proximity to the beach. In addition, visitors would be able to view the power stations on a short walk". "Gee whizz, the sounds idyllic," the column’s author says.

The Independent reports
that China is to build the world’s tallest skyscraper – "in just 90 days". According to the paper, when completed by the end of next March, "Sky City in Changsha will be the tallest skyscraper in the world, standing at 2,749ft (838m) high, over 220 floors". Sky City "will achieve the target by assembling BSB’s 95 per cent prefabricated modular technology at a breakneck construction pace", the paper reports.

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