Brandon Lewis calls on developers to improve design quality

Reports that planning minister Brandon Lewis has said that the public will only accept new houses in their area if developers 'produce attractive and appropriately placed homes' feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Telegraph reports that Lewis "told a gathering of executives from the industry that the government can only do so much to win public support for new developments". The newspaper quotes Lewis saying: "If we want to see our country more welcoming of development, more understanding of the need to build the houses we want to see, we can put the framework in place, but we do rely on the people in this room to ensure the quality of design, and the appropriateness of positioning and the quality of build to make sure people appreciate these homes and want them in their communities."

The Guardian reports that chemicals giant Ineos "is to announce a plan to invest up to £640 million in shale gas exploration in the UK". The newspaper says that the company, "which runs a huge refinery and petrochemicals plant at Grangemouth, on the Firth of Forth, recently acquired 729 square miles of fracking exploration licences in central Scotland".

The Guardian also reports that the future of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset "is under a cloud amid a financial crisis at Areva, a shareholder in the project and the designer of the proposed reactors". The newspaper says that shares in the French engineering business "plunged by almost a quarter after Areva warned it must suspend future profit predictions because of problems centred on a similar power station project in Finland".

The Telegraph reports that house prices in Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle "will be growing faster than in London by the end of the year as bargain hunters turn to cheaper property in the North of England, a report has forecast". The paper says the average property price in the capital "rose 0.3 per cent between September and October to reach £402,800, according to analysts Hometrack. By comparison, property prices in some cities outside the South East jumped by more than two per cent during the same period".

The Guardian reports that "more than a century after it was first proposed, preparatory work on an inter-oceanic canal through Nicaragua will begin on 24 December, according to a senior government official". The paper says that "despite concerns among the scientific community that the canal could cause widespread environmental damage, Paul Oquist, a close adviser to the president, Daniel Ortega, said construction of roads and a wharf for the Chinese-run £32 billion project would soon get under way".

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