New plans for Edge Lane Retail Park

New plans for Edge Lane Retail ParkPlans for Edge Lane Retail Park in Liverpool which will boost the local economy and create 1,500 new jobs are set to be approved.

The scheme is an important part of the work to improve the city centre, which also includes the recently-completed Hall Lane improvements, new housing on Edge Lane and the proposed new Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

It follows extensive discussions between Liverpool City Council and Derwent Holdings to address and tackle economic challenges in the retail sector which have impacted on the size and scale of the scheme.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and Derwent Holdings Chairman, Albert Gubay, have worked together to ensure the scheme has sufficient funds to remain active even in difficult times.

Work is underway with completion on the initial phase of the Retail Park, creating 21,000 square feet of warehouse units on the plot bounded by Edge Lane and Binns Road – including a food superstore.

The new-look plans for subsequent phases include:

  • A major leisure and restaurant development on 147,000 square feet of land originally earmarked for an extension of Rathbone Hospital (Edge Lane/Mill Lane/Rathbone Road)
  • The former Robinson Willey gas appliances site to be developed as a high quality park, albeit smaller than planned to make space for business units to accommodate firms including those currently on the Binns Road Trading Estate
  • The former Crossfield Garages to be upgraded as four retail units which will reflect the design quality of the main scheme, rather than being used to accommodate businesses displaced from the main retail site
  • The main retail park to be scaled back from 46 to 30 retail units, plus restaurants and surface-level parking. Plans for an underground car park have been withdrawn

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, said: “This is a hugely ambitious project, made all the more challenging by the tough economic times.

“Work is already underway on phase one but we want to make sure the entire scheme is delivered which is why we have worked in partnership with Derwent to make it work for them and us.

“We are determined to make it happen, because we know how important it is to rejuvenate this major city gateway, delivering excellent retail and leisure facilities and creating many new jobs.”

Kier gets £42m Walsall regeneration contract


Walsall Housing Group (WHG) has selected Kier as development partner for the building of a mixed housing scheme across five sites in and around Walsall.

The £42 million project has received funding through the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Affordable Homes Programme set to pave the way for new trade jobs.

The multi-site regeneration scheme, procured through the HCA Delivery Partner Panel (DPP) framework, will see Kier and WHG deliver a total of 186 open market sale homes and 154 affordable units, comprising a mix of two-bedroom apartments through to four-bedroom houses.

All properties will be delivered to Code for Sustainable Homes level 3, meaning the residents will benefit from reduced running costs for their new homes.

Kier Partnership Homes’ managing director, Chris King, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded these schemes; our winning strategy included innovative funding solutions, combined with our ability to deliver affordable housing.

“The project team has demonstrated true collaboration, and overcome many issues to ensure that the client can proceed with this much needed regeneration to the local area.”

Mark Tranter, head of development at WHG, said: “Kier was selected as WHG’s development partner through the HCA DPP framework. The innovative partnership will enable the delivery of 154 new build affordable rent homes during the next 18 months across five strategic sites providing Private Developer grant and cross subsidy from the 186 sale homes.”

The schemes will be located at Harrowby Road, Penine Way, Short Street, Somerfield Road and Wessex Close. Harrowby Road will be the first scheme on site, with the remaining four all starting by February 2014.

Investment in growing railway delivers jobs boost for the West Midlands

Investment in growing railway delivers jobs boost for the West MidlandsInvestment in the rail network has generated £426 million of work for businesses in the West Midlands over the last year, according to new figures released by Network Rail.

Around a quarter of the money was spent on building projects, helping small and medium-sized businesses based in the region.

Network Rail has estimated that investment over the last year has boosted economic growth and employment across a wide range of industries, supporting 11,980 jobs locally.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said: “Investing in infrastructure has a direct effect on the economy, creating jobs, and giving Britain the infrastructure we need to build a stronger economy and fairer society.

“This report is excellent in highlighting the opportunities for small and medium sized businesses that come with infrastructure investment. That is why we have set out £100 billion of investment in infrastructure over the next Parliament, including supporting the largest programme of investment in rail since the Victorian era. I’m very glad to see that Network Rail are doing their bit to drive sustainable and balanced economic growth across the UK.”

Across Britain, Network Rail’s major projects division – which is responsible for delivering enhancement schemes such as the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street and the Thameslink Programme upgrade, invested £3.2 billion in 2012/13.

This investment has sustained over 90,000 full-time jobs nationwide in addition to the 34,000 people directly employed by Network Rail, generating significant financial benefits as well as boosting local economies.

Neil Thompson, regional director, Network Rail Infrastructure Projects, said: “The rail industry is increasingly recognised as a key contributor to our national, economic and social well-being. This is true in the West Midlands, where investment in stations and the rail network provided a £426 million boost to companies in the region, supporting sustainable economic growth and jobs.

“Every day, thousands of rail journeys are made through the region and the railway transports millions of tonnes of goods between ports and shops. But railways don’t just move people and freight. Railways connect homes and workplaces, businesses with markets, create jobs, stimulate trade and support the growth of a balanced economy.”

The rail industry’s supply chain is both extended and varied, ranging from professional services to the construction industry. Rail investment is therefore an important driver of growth across many of the UK’s industrial sectors.

Admiralty Arch proposal gets go ahead

Admiralty Arch proposal gets go aheadPlans to restore the iconic Admiralty Arch to its former glory have been given the go-ahead, Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude confirmed.

In a public meeting last week, Westminster City Council granted planning permission to developers Prime Investors Capital (PIC) to renovate the former office space into a 5-star hotel, residences and private members’ club.

The redevelopment is part of the wider Cabinet Office strategy to operate a more efficient government estate which has already seen it shrink by 16% since 2010 and raise over £1 billion for the taxpayer by selling buildings and land no longer needed.

The 99 year lease agreement signed between HM Government and PIC in October 2012 will raise an additional £60 million from the sale of Admiralty Arch’s leasehold, as well as creating jobs within the regeneration project.

Mr Francis Maude said: “The plans approved today will breathe new life into Admiralty Arch, transforming it from unsuitable office space into a publicly accessible landmark that everyone can admire and enjoy.

“Hard-working families rightly expect us to make the most of what we own; historical and architecturally significant buildings like the Arch shouldn’t be sitting empty in the government’s estate wasting £900,000 a year to run. Instead we’re raising £60 million for the taxpayer and working closely on every aspect with Prime Investors Capital (PIC), Westminster City Council and English Heritage to restore it to its former glory.

“Retaining the building’s freehold will mean that the public will always have a say in its future and this restoration project will create jobs, boost the local economy and help reduce the deficit.”

Prime Investors Capital CEO Rafael Serrano said: “We are delighted and grateful that Westminster City Council has granted us permission to begin work on the sensitive restoration of Admiralty Arch. We can now give this historical building a worthy and suitable purpose as its designer Sir Aston Webb originally intended and open it up to the public.”

Originally designed as a ceremonial passage from Trafalgar Square towards Buckingham Palace, Admiralty Arch is a London landmark with historical and architectural significance.

The plans put forward by PIC will see the Grade-1 listed building sensitively renovated in keeping with architect Sir Aston Webb’s original drawings from around 1910 with many lost designs restored.

Start of new road to open up Black Country Enterprise Zone

Start of new road to open up Black Country Enterprise Zone

Vital roadwork is underway in Darlaston to help the Black Country Enterprise Zone release its potential to create thousands of jobs and boost the local economy.

The £26 million road scheme to open up the Enterprise Zone is progressing well with tree clearance works about to begin. The roadworks are beginning with clearing verges to widen a major junction in the area and significantly reduce congestion.

Walsall Council leader Councillor Mike Bird said: “In Darlaston and Pleck we’re improving the road network so that parcels of land can be unlocked for development.

“This will enable us to help businesses create jobs and opportunities in Walsall and we’re helping Walsall people find work.”

The Black Country is made up of a number of sites within Darlaston and Wolverhampton North, spread over 120 hectares.

The area has a strong history of expertise in innovative manufacturing processes and technologies, meaning businesses that choose to invest in the Enterprise Zone will benefit from excellent collaborative research and development opportunities with regional universities, centres of excellence and industry partners.

The Zone expects to create almost 4,000 new jobs by 2015 in the aerospace, automotive and engineering sectors.

The roads will help unlock land in the Black Country Enterprise Zone which can be readied for development more quickly through a simplified planning process.

Contractor appointed for fourth phase of Arboretum restoration

English Landscapes Limited has been appointed to carry out the £1.7 million fourth phase of work on the restoration programme at Walsall Arboretum with regeneration work starting in September 2013.

This phase of the overall £7.6 million restoration of the premier park will take around 12 months to complete and will pave the way for new employment in the trades.

This phase of the programme will see the park’s entrance gates repaired and refurbished, boundary walls at Lichfield Street, Arboretum Road and Broadway North repaired, boundary railings and internal park railings repaired and replaced and repairs carried out to brook bridges.

There will also be new park benches installed, with existing benches repaired, new litter bins, new signs and footpaths will be repaired and resurfaced along with the creation of some new ones.

Horticultural improvements will include new tree and shrub planting. The park’s tennis courts will be refurbished and the Broadway toilet blocks, adjacent to the clock tower will be demolished.

Councillor Anthony Harris, Walsall Council cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “The council is also finalising proposals for illuminating areas of the restored Arboretum and these will be discussed and agreed with English Landscapes. Final details of this scheme will be available in September.

“We will make every effort to keep the main pedestrian routes within the park open during this phase of work, however some disruption is inevitable for which we apologise. We will ensure we communicate regularly with residents and visitors and there will be updated signs on site to inform users of the progress made and any areas that will require temporary closure.

“We have already seen a new youth play area installed and a tree programme delivered and the building restoration contract is due to be completed in September.

“The final phase of work will be the construction of a new visitors’ centre and we are all looking forward to the overall restoration programme being finished during 2013.”

The £7.6 million restoration programme is majority funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with match funding from Walsall Council.

Other sources of funding include a Growth Point grant and landfill tax funding from Cory Environmental Trust and Veolia Environmental Trust.

Redrow chosen for major Essex development scheme

Redrow chosen for major Essex  development scheme

Basildon based housebuilder Redrow has been chosen by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) as their development partner for ‘Nethermayne’ in Basildon, Essex. 

Redrow Homes will see the building of around 700 new homes at Dry Street, Nethermayne, paving the way for thousands of new jobs and boosting the local economy.

The major residential scheme will form part of a wider redevelopment, which will also include a new primary school, public open space, highways improvements and land for St Luke’s Hospice.

Keith Parrett, managing director at Redrow Homes, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as the development partner and look forward to working alongside the HCA, Basildon Borough Council and South Essex College to bring much needed new housing to the area.

“We believe that this location has great potential for a sustainable new neighbourhood, which would make a considerable contribution to meeting local housing needs and have a strong emphasis on quality family homes.

“In addition, we believe our proposed development would boost the local economy with the injection of money and circa 1,000 jobs during construction and will bring wider economic benefits to existing shops and facilities.”

Cllr Malcolm Buckley, Cabinet member for regeneration, said: “I am pleased that the HCA are progressing well with this important project and are working with Redrow to bring forward a full planning application.  Redrow are a well reputed and quality housebuilder and the fact they have a Basildon base is a real bonus.”

Facts at a glance for the wider regeneration scheme:

  • Up to 725 homes, both private sale and affordable
  • New town centre college and new market
  • New primary school
  • Highways improvements
  • Approximately 1,300 construction jobs created
  • Expansion land for St Luke’s Hospice

Willmott Dixon gets £19m University of Brighton contract

Willmott DixonWillmott Dixon has secured a £19 million interiors redevelopment contract to refurbish a 10-storey 1960s-built teaching block for the University of Brighton.

It comes as Willmott Dixon is targeting a £125 million a year turnover in interiors work within three years, paving the way for new jobs in the building construction industry.  

The refurbishment of the University of Brighton’s Cockcroft building involves the refit of a 15,000 sq.m. multi-use building to allow several departments to share modern accommodation that includes staff offices, IT facilities as well as specialist teaching and research facilities.

Each floor of Cockcroft will be completely refurbished while the building remains operational throughout the project, including replacing all windows to provide better insulation and energy performance, together with a timber decking system to create new terraces on the 8th floor that look out across Brighton.

Procured through the IESE framework, Willmott Dixon is working with a design team that includes Fraser Brown MacKenna, Mott MacDonald, Curtins Consulting and Burnley Wilson.

Mike Hart, chief operating officer responsible for Willmott Dixon’s interiors work said: “We’re delighted to be working with the team at the University of Brighton to ensure the Cockcroft building can meet the demands of the 21st century. The modernisation is a major investment by a university that wants to have premium facilities to attract the best students and academics.”

“In the past, our interiors workload was mainly concentrated on commercial work in London.  Now we’re delivering projects across all sectors, including commercial, health, hotels, leisure, retail and education, including Free Schools, and higher education, using the synergies and networks across Willmott Dixon.”

Alex Salmond backs house-building in Scotland

The Scottish GovernmentThe Scottish Government is on track to deliver 30,000 affordable homes and boost the construction industry, the First Minister Alex Salmond has said today.

Alex Salmond officially opened a new housing development in Argyll where he met residents in their new homes at the Park Terrace affordable housing development in Campbeltown.

The £5.267 million development of 32 homes for rent was funded by the Scottish Government, Argyll & Bute Council and Argyll Community Housing Association (ACHA). It was built over two years by local firm MacLeod Construction – providing jobs for 60 workers.

Thousands of affordable homes will be built within the current five-year Parliamentary session that will create more employment opportunities in the trades.

As a result of the most recent housing completions, figures for which are published today, a total of 14,298 affordable homes have been delivered within nine quarters. These include 10,611 council homes and registered social landlord homes – 53 per cent of the social rented housing target – with a further 11 quarters still to go.

The First Minister said: “With more than 14,200 affordable homes completed in just over two years, the Scottish Government is well on track to meet our pledge to deliver 30,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this parliament, including 20,000 social homes.

“We are working closely with our housing sector partners to increase the pace of approvals and this will be greatly enhanced by our decision, announced last month, to increase the grant for every new council and housing association property by £16,000 for each new home.

“We have boosted our budgets for new affordable homes considerably and will now invest almost £950 million in the three years to March 2015.

“Despite reductions to our capital budgets and the challenges facing housing associations, we’re committed to providing more affordable homes across Scotland, especially in rural areas such as Kintyre.”

New Enterprise Zone centre will boost local employment

New Enterprise Zone centre will boost local employment

More than 150 new jobs will be created in the North Eastern Enterprise Zone’s new business start-up centre, boosting the local economy and the trades.

The £6 million centre will be a hub to help new businesses establish and grow. With new offices, workshops and labs, the building will provide work spaces for 200 people when it is completed next year.

Located next to Nissan’s Wearside plant, the centre will benefit companies working in the region’s growing low carbon transport business with access to sector specific skills and expertise.

Barmston Developments are building the hub on the Turbine Business Park. Deverloper, James Scott, said: “Our ability to be back on site so quickly after completing the 422,000 sq ft Vantec warehouse shows how committed we are to delivering at Turbine Business Park.”

Councillor Paul Watson said:“All businesses start somewhere and need a base for their works. This new project is the second major development on the Turbine Business Park as part of the North East Low Carbon Zone.”

This news follows the North Eastern’s success in becoming the first Enterprise Zone in England to achieve foreign direct investment from Vantec Europe, a move that is set to create more than 300 jobs in the Zone.

Barmston Developments has also achieved outline planning permission on the Zone’s remaining 20 acres, the site can accommodate warehouses, industrial, office and retail buildings together with consent for a hotel and a pub.

Attracting new start ups will help the Zone to reach its aim to become Europe’s premier location for ultra low carbon vehicles and offshore energy, building on the existing economic strengths and existing infrastructure.