Hammond 'rejects Javid's housing investment call'

Reports that chancellor Philip Hammond has rejected a suggestion from the communities secretary that the government should borrow billions of pounds to invest in new homes feature in today's newspaper round-up.

Earlier this week, Sajid Javid suggested that ministers should take advantage of record low interest rates to borrow money to fund development. But the Telegraph reports that, speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Hammond "distanced himself from the idea as he insisted it was not government policy".

An opinion piece in the Guardian reports that the High Court is to hear a judicial review case today which seeks to scrap a development deal between the London Borough of Haringey and developer Lendlease. The piece says that the scheme is being backed by "zombie Blairites running the north London borough to shove family homes, school buildings and libraries into a giant private fund worth £2 billion". The article says that the case "is being watched by the construction industry, by councils across the country and by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s team".

The Telegraph reports that a YouGov survey, commissioned by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and infrastructure firm AECOM, found that "three-quarters of firms believe there will be no improvement to UK infrastructure during the current Parliament, pointing to housing shortages as their biggest headache". The paper says that just 20 per cent of businesses were satisfied with the current pace of infrastructure improvements.

The Times (subscription) reports that MSPs have voted to back the Scottish government’s fracking ban. The paper says that the support "came after Paul Wheelhouse, the energy minister, announced this month that planning regulations would be used to ‘ban’ the controversial gas extraction technique by extending a moratorium indefinitely".

The Times also reports that Saudi Arabia "has unveiled plans to build a $500 billion mega-city that will run on alternative energy and have its own laws". The paper says that, "in a project that forms a key part of the kingdom’s plan to diversify its economy, the zone of Neom will cover 26,500 square kilometres of ‘totally untouched’ land and will power itself with wind and solar energy".

Singapore "is to freeze the number of cars permitted on its roads in a continuing, and successful, effort to prevent the traffic jams and urban paralysis that have afflicted other Asian cities", the Times reports. The paper says that "next year there will be no increase in the number of ownership permits, meaning that new cars will be allowed on the roads only after other users give theirs up".

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