'Housing and infrastructure projects at risk due to loan rate hike'

A warning from councils that 'dozens of housing, regeneration and infrastructure projects' are at risk after the government dramatically raised its loan rate features in today's newspaper round-up.

The Times reports that councils have warned that "dozens of housing, regeneration and infrastructure projects across the country could be cancelled after the Treasury unexpectedly raised borrowing costs". It says the Treasury "notified local authority finance officers on Wednesday that it was to sharply increase the interest rate on new loans from the Public Works Loan Board, the government body that issues loans to councils for capital projects". The rate, which has been introduced with immediate effect, has more than doubled from 0.8 percentage points over the gilt rate to 1.8 percentage points. According to the newspaper, the Local Government Association "estimated that the interest rate rise could cost councils an extra £70 million a year in borrowing costs".

The Times reports on this week’s episode of Channel 4’s Grand Designs, hosted by architect Kevin McCloud, saying many viewers have described it as the "saddest episode ever". It says a man's eight-year efforts to build a Grand Designs dream home in Devon has "plunged his family into millions of pounds of debt", caused him to split from his wife and left him with "an unfinished eyesore that will need £2 million more to complete".

The Daily Telegraph reports the boss of British Airways, Willie Walsh, saying that he believes the third runway at Heathrow Airport will not go ahead "due to a growing backlash over the environment". According to the newspaper, Walsh said the project to "boost capacity at Europe's busiest air travel hub is likely to fall flat despite finally winning approval from Parliament last year". Walsh is quoted as saying: "Two years ago I would have said it was probably 60/40 that it would go ahead. I'm probably 60/40 against it going ahead at this stage." 

The Telegraph also reports on a study which claims that London's green spaces are "highly polluted". It says analysis of air quality in London found 24 per cent of play spaces and 27 per cent of public parks had nitrogen dioxide levels above the EU's recommended threshold. The joint study by Imperial College London (ICL) and the University of Leicester also found that 67 per cent of private parks were unsafe, the newspaper adds.

The Telegraph further reports on the Centrepoint charity announcing that it will "build hundreds of modular homes with capped rent" as part of "the fight to end homelessness". The Independent Living Programme aims to create 300 modular homes across London and Greater Manchester by 2021 for young homeless people aged 16 to 25.


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