Go-ahead for £120m new housing grant scheme in Wales

Go-ahead for £120m new housing grant scheme in WalesThe Welsh Government has today launched an innovative housing finance scheme that will boost the construction industry and create new jobs in the trades.

The package includes around £120 million of Welsh Government funding over the next 30 years and will contribute directly to the building of over 1000 new affordable homes across Wales.

Twenty Housing Associations are already taking part in the scheme, with coverage across all 22 local authority areas in Wales. Construction work on the first projects will commence in 2013.

Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Carl Sargeant said: “Delivering quality, affordable housing to the people of Wales is my priority and so I am delighted to launch this important and innovative new package today.

“It’s vital that the private and public sectors are supported in building new homes so that we can continue to work towards, and indeed exceed our target of providing 7,500 affordable homes during the term of this Welsh Government.

“This scheme is just the beginning in my search for new ways of increasing housing supply in Wales. Building new homes is important not only in meeting the growing housing need of communities but also as a way of providing work to help people out of poverty and to counter the highly damaging effects of the UK Government’s ‘bedroom tax’.

Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance said: “The Welsh Housing Finance Grant Scheme shows our commitment to finding new and innovative ways of investing in affordable housing across Wales.  As budgets get tighter we have to consider all avenues of funding that are available to us to help us deliver our priorities.

“This scheme is a real example of what can be achieved when the public sector and private sector work together.  Following the success of this initiative, I now hope we can use this type of funding to generate more investment in affordable housing.”

As part of the scheme, M&G Investments are providing the main new source of finance for Wales’s Registered Social Landlords, in light of the lack of long term funding currently available from the banks and building societies.

Mark Davie, Head of Social Housing at M&G Investments said: “We are pleased to support this exciting initiative by the Welsh Government, which sees Welsh housing associations gain access to £153 million of long term funding, in order to meet their house-building goals over the coming years.”

Balfour Beatty secures £87m London commercial contract

Balfour Beatty secures £87m London commercial contractBalfour Beatty has been awarded a £87 million St James’s Market contract which forms part of the overall commercial redevelopment, for the Crown Estate and Oxford Properties.

The scheme will provide 260,000 sq. ft. of new commercial and retail space across two eight-storey blocks between Regent Street and Haymarket, boosting the trades and creating new jobs.

Building construction work is due to start on site this autumn and will be completed in summer 2015.

The first block, situated along Regent Street, includes a retained heritage façade which will be repaired and restored as part of the contract. The second block, adjacent to Haymarket, will incorporate an aesthetic curved glass and Portland Stone wall that will be installed in four by three metre sections using a tower crane.

To manage the safe and efficient delivery of construction activity in a confined and densely populated location, the firm will utilise its 4D Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology capability to create a virtual environment.

This will enable the project team to design out or mitigate potential risks and disruption to the public and other stakeholders before activity begins on site.

On this project, we will also deploy our off-site manufacturing capability to provide modular mechanical and electrical services. This modular off-site approach in a controlled environment reduces time on site, improves safety and reduces the overall construction programme.

Extensive public realm improvements on site will create a new 10,000 sq. ft. piazza including new seating, planters and wall mounted lighting, providing a new social space for visitors, and complementing Westminster City Council and Transport for London’s public realm improvement programme.

Balfour Beatty Chief Executive, Andrew McNaughton said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with The Crown Estate and Oxford Properties to deliver this landmark scheme.

“Working within the Capital invariably presents its challenges but the investment we have made in digital technology and modular construction will come to the fore on this project and we look forward to demonstrating our expertise.”

Early stage contractors to save billions off HS2 project

HS2 ProjectThe HS2 scheme has revealed that procurement savings of £3.5 billion could be made to overall budget by getting contractors on board at early stages of the project.   

The projected savings follow the Government’s pledge that the cost of delivering the scheme, which will link Euston in London, to Birmingham before connecting to Manchester and Leeds, will not exceed £42.6 billion –  £14.4 billion of which is contingency.

Independent analysis recently carried out by KPMG shows that HS2 could boost the UK’s economy by £15 billion per year, and that the regions will be the biggest winners from the project.

HS2 Ltd – the company set up the Government to deliver both phases of the project – is aiming to save potentially 10 per cent by recruiting contractors, such as designers, surveyors and engineers, at the start of the project to work in an integrated way, rather than commissioning contractors on an individual basis as the scheme develops.

Beth West, HS2 Ltd Commercial Director, said: “Complex infrastructures schemes often become gold plated when a lack of co-ordination between contractors leads to parts of it being built to unnecessarily high standards. It can happen if you design your civil engineering before you recruit your contractors. Bringing in all parties early on will cut the overall costs and the risk of cost overruns.

“As part of these plans, we also hope to save hundreds of millions of pounds, if not a billion, by using computer simulations to design projects.”

HS2 will give Britain’s railways much-needed capacity by running up to 18 trains per hours to and from Euston Station, with each carrying as many as 1,100 passengers.

UK Trade & Investment CEO breathes confidence to Welsh companies

UK Trade & Investment CEO breathes confidence to Welsh companiesSecretary of State for Wales, David Jones has outlined available support to Welsh companies that will create new jobs and boost the economy.  

UK Trade & Investment CEO, Nick Baird is on a visit today to some of Cardiff’s leading business successes from innovative technologies to the building construction industry.

UKTI is the government organisation responsible for assisting companies to export goods and services abroad, and attracting inward investment into projects and industries at home.

Mr Baird is visiting the Welsh capital to underline the level of UKTI support available to businesses in Wales that are looking to grow and support economic growth.

Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones said: “We all want Wales to be a more prosperous place, with increased private sector employment and better opportunities for businesses to grow.

“And there are positive signs that this is happening – 67,000 jobs have been created in the private sector in Wales since 2010, and there has been a 191% rise in the number of investments by foreign companies into Wales over the last financial year.

“As a Government, we want to do more to ensure Welsh businesses take advantage of every opportunity available to them to grow and expand into new markets. UKTI, with representation throughout the world, has an important role to play in this process.

“UKTI is a valuable resource for businesses throughout the whole of the UK, Wales included. Unleashing the potential of companies such as those we are visiting today will be key to ensuring sustainable recovery.”

Nick Baird, Chief Executive of UKTI said: “I am delighted to be in Wales again to see first hand how local companies are working to internationalise their businesses with support from both UKTI and the Welsh Government Trade & Investment Team, who act as our delivery partner for trade services in Wales.

“I am also pleased to have the opportunity today to talk to Welsh Assembly members about the support offered by UKTI across both trade and inward investment.

“UKTI offers a wide range of trade support programmes, including help with market research and identifying contacts overseas. UKTI’s website provides full details.”

BAM awarded £3m work in new contracts

Bam ConstructionBAM Facilities Management has secured a dozen new contracts valued at around three million pounds that will boost the trades and create new jobs.

The contracts span the private and public sectors, and across the education, property, commercial accommodation markets. All the contracts are for between one and three years.

The new work schemes signal BAM’s strategy for diversifying its Facilities Management business and expand its operation services.

Kath Fontana, Managing Director, says: “The contrast in the biggest two contracts highlights our appeal to different sectors. Aylesbury Vale Academy is taking hard and soft FM services (except catering) over three years. While property agents Saviles is also taking BAM for three years at its Buckingham Palace Road location.

“We have an ambitious agenda for growing our FM business. Our pioneering work on building information modelling (BIM) is placing us at the forefront of contractors who understand the whole lifecycle of a building.

“It means we can help clients understand how they can most efficiently manage a building before we design and build it for them. BAM FM’s consultancy services are being used by Google while it considers the tenders for its new headquarters in Kings Cross.”

In addition, BAM’s existing FM services have been renewed by two Olympics projects: Chobham Academy and the Olympic Park legacy buildings.

Graham Cash, Chief Executive of BAM Construct UK, said: “We are committed to expanding our FM business into new sectors, with new clients, to complement our traditional long-term PFI and PPP-related franchises. It’s clear that is on track as new clients realise what we can do for them with our integrated expertise in a building’s lifecycle.”

The other new contracts secured by BAM FM are:

·         Penrose School in Somerset

·         Truro Residences

·         East Ayrshire Electrical Framework

·         Kearsley Academy

·         Kings Science Academy Bradford

·         UTC Swindon (as part of the construction arrangement), and

·         The Arnold Clark Dealership in Scotland.

£100m waste water tunnel planned for Glasgow

£100m waste water tunnel planned for GlasgowScottish Water is to build a 3.1 mile-long waste water tunnel in Glasgow as part of the biggest upgrade of the city’s waste water network in more than a century.

The publicly-owned utility has confirmed that it is to construct a sewer tunnel running between Queen’s Park and Craigton industrial estate via Pollok and Bellahouston parks.

The £100 million tunnel, which will be the biggest storm water storage tunnel in Scotland, will resolve water quality and reduce flooding issues at key locations in the area.

It will be a major part of Scottish Water’s £250 million, five-year programme of work announced in February to upgrade the waste water network in the Glasgow area.

In what looks to be the biggest investment in the network since Victorian times, the upgrade will improve river water quality and the natural environment of the River Clyde, enabling the Greater Glasgow area to grow and develop.

The tunnel will be 4.65m in diameter, big enough to fit a double-decker bus inside and more than five times as long as the Clyde Tunnel. Work is expected to start in mid-2014 and take three and a half years to complete, including preparatory work, mine working consolidation and utility diversion work.

Mr Geoff Aitkenhead, Scottish Water’s Asset Management Director, said: “Following the launch in February of our five-year programme of investment to transform the Greater Glasgow area’s waste water infrastructure, we are delighted to be able to confirm this key part of the programme.

“The tunnel will increase capacity and alleviate pressure on the existing network by providing additional storm water storage.”

Welcoming Scottish Water’s announcement, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, said: “The improvement of Glasgow’s sewerage network is essential to its future economic growth, a cleaner environment and to resolve long-standing flooding issues.”

Work starts on multi-million investment in Hereford

Work starts on multi-million investment in Hereford

Construction work has started on the first multi-million investment at the Hereford Enterprise Zone that will boost the economy and deliver new jobs.

Local company Leominster Construction has been awarded the contract to develop the new facility for Beck Group on a site known as Skylon East.

Development will also start later this year on a new regional centre for Western Power Distribution on three acres next to Chapel Road.

Chairman of the Enterprise Zone Board, Bill Jackson, said: “Our aim is for 1,500 jobs to be generated by the Zone by 2015 – both of these companies will be creating employment for local people and Western Power has also committed to increasing the number of apprentices it takes on each year.

The low carbon, energy efficient building will offer engineering facilities, office space for the company as well as significant apprenticeship opportunities for young people from the area.

Skylon Park is a 72-hectare world class business landscape, available for immediate development following a £20 million investment in infrastructure and trades.

The park has been designated as the Enterprise Zone of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, the private sector-led organisation tasked with revitalising the economy of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin.

Mr Jackson said: “Skylon Park is a world class business landscape and the arrival of these companies launch what will be a period of sustained investment and development here.

“We have already ploughed more than £20 million into infrastructure projects to ensure the Zone is ready for investors who wish to come here, and we’re delighted to welcome these first 2 companies on site. We’re particularly pleased to see that the first construction contract has been awarded to a local company, Leominster Construction.

“Our investment team is speaking with a number of other prestigious business names and following up promising leads which we hope will lead to further investments in the coming weeks and months.”

Businesses moving on to the Enterprise Zone benefit from business rate relief worth up to £275,000 per business over a 5 year period, as well as simplified planning processes and superfast broadband.

Zone board member and Herefordshire Councillor Roger Phillips said: “Western Power Distribution and Beck Group are 2 very different companies, operating in very different fields. But what they have in common is a desire to invest in business growth, which in turn creates sustainable private sector jobs.”