Lunchtime news May 21

Government housing policy is still failing on sustainability, according to a major report from the Sustainable Development Commission this morning. The report says it has made progress with its pledge on zero carbon homes but criticises development in areas of water stress, demolition of homes in the North and Midlands and divisions between private and affordable homes. ‘Few communities built so far are living up to the promise of being environmentally sensitive, well-connected, thriving and inclusive,’ it says.

The planning white paper due to be published later today looks set to recommend scrapping planning inquiries for major projects and scrapping planning permission for minor household alterations. But the advance coverage is much less certain what it will say about the green belt.

Mortgage lending in April was up 18% on last year, according to CML figures this morning, but it said lending was now ‘stabilising’ following the major growth seen in 2013. The British Bankers Association said mortgage lending was up by £5bn but that the market was slowing down because of high house prices and rising interest rates.

Industry minister and Barking MP Margaret Hodge called for people born in Britain to get priority for housing in an Observer article on Sunday that gets extensive coverage and criticism this morning.

Nicola Sturgeon will have cabinet-level responsibility for housing in the new SNP minority administration in Scotland. She was named cabinet secretary for health and well-being, a portfolio that includes housing and regneration, on Thursday.

House prices in Scotland fell 2.2% in the first quarter of the year, according to Registers of Scotland, but prices were still up 12.3% over the last year.

Tenants in Lambeth will get a vote on the council’s plan for an almo, according to the South London Press. The council had previously said it would carry out a ‘test of opinion’ rather than a ballot.

The DCLG has published a guide to student accommodation aimed at landlords and students.