Manchester 'most vibrant urban area'

Reports that central Manchester has 'outstripped' London as Britain's most 'vibrant' urban area feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Financial Times (subscription) says central Manchester has risen to the top of the "vibrancy index" which is complied by information services group Experian using census and commercial data. The newspaper says that the findings "highlight Manchester’s renaissance over the past two decades as abandoned textile mills and warehouses have been redeveloped into flats and businesses".

Westminster City Council is to launch a consultation on a new planning policy to restrict subterranean extensions to properties, the Times (subscription) reports. According to the newspaper, underground extensions "akin to the decks of a nuclear submarine" could be blocked by the new policy. The newspaper reports that the council said it was on a "Hunt for Red Octobers".

The Independent reports that the government’s Green Deal scheme to improve the energy efficiency of homes is so complicated "it is likely to be discouraging the public from signing up, the head of the company funding the project has admitted". In an interview with the newspaper, Mark Bayley, the chief executive of the Green Deal Finance Company, "revealed that he now only expects around 1,000 households to have energy saving measures installed under the plan in its first year. And he conceded that so far his company – which has a start-up fund of £244 million to loan to households – has processed applications worth just £3.4 million and signed off on only 12".

The Independent also reports that a Liverpool taxi driver has become the first applicant to be allocated a home sold by the city council for £1 as part of a scheme to bring empty properties back into use. The newspaper says more than 1,000 people applied for one of 20 properties across the city.

The Royal Bank of Scotland's "£3.2 billion distressed-property arm is trying to sell off a portfolio of more than 1,300 UK residential properties", the Guardian reports. The newspaper says the bank’s properties include "streets of old properties dotted around the UK's provincial cities, often repossessed from failed buy-to-let landlords".

The Guardian also reports
that the London Borough of Harrow is offering council tenants £38,000 if they move out of their council home to buy their own property. The newspaper says the scheme "illustrates the scarcity of social housing, particularly larger homes, in parts of the UK, especially the capital".

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