Morgan Sindall gets £41m Cambridge contract

Morgan Sindall gets £41m Cambridge contractThe University of Cambridge has awarded a £40.8 million contract to Morgan Sindall to build its new chemical engineering and biotechnology facility, boosting the local economy and paving the way for new jobs.

The new building has been designed by architects BDP and is located at the University’s growing science and technology campus at West Cambridge.

The project follows the merger of the university’s Department of Chemical Engineering and the Institute of Biotechnology.

The new facility will bring together teaching and research under one roof and be a focus for internationally-leading activities in sensors and diagnostics research as well as reaction engineering.

Bob Ensch, area director for Morgan Sindall, said: “As you would expect from the University of Cambridge, the new laboratories will be of a standard best described as world class.”

The building will feature a wide range of biological laboratories to Bio Safety Levels Two and Three, cleanrooms, sensitive laser, optics and imaging laboratories, a Magnetic Resonance Research Centre, materials and processes laboratories and an undergraduate teaching laboratory.

The undergraduate teaching facilities support these laboratories through dedicated spaces that include two 120-seat lecture theatres, a postgraduate open plan researcher write-up space, and academic and administrative offices.

£300 million affordable housing boost for Scotland

£300 million affordable housing boostHundreds of millions of pounds are to be spent across Scotland on increasing the supply of affordable housing, creating jobs and boosting the economy.

The Scottish Government confirmed that all the 32 of Scotland’s local authorities have been allocated a share of £300 million in subsidy for affordable homes.

This is part of the Government’s investment of £391 million to the Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP) that will boost the trades and create new jobs.

The remaining £91 million will be managed centrally, with £30 million for the Low Cost Initiative for First Time Buyers, £10 million for the Home Owners Support Fund, and funding for increased subsidies for homes built to a greener standard.

The funding will support delivery of over 6000 affordable homes, including 4000 social homes. The rest will go to other affordable housing projects, including those that promote innovation.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: “This is a substantial funding boost that will support house building across Scotland.

“We have listened to councils and housing associations and put in place a system of funding for housing which will provide greater certainty and allow councils to make plans for the future.

“Housing is and will remain a priority for this Government and we will continue to invest in new affordable homes. Despite the severe cuts to our budgets by the UK Government, this is a substantial funding boost that will support house building across Scotland.

“This funding keeps us on track to deliver more than 6000 affordable homes per year, of which 4000 will be social homes. But we must continue to work together to get the most from our resources and ensure that we deliver our vision that everyone should have a safe, warm home which they can afford.”

Alan Ferguson, Director of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland, said: “When the budget announcement was made in September, CIH Scotland was very happy to join with other bodies in welcoming the outline budget of £391 million for the Affordable Housing Supply Programme in 2015/16.

“This budget represents an increase of around 21 per cent on the average annual spend of £323 million within the current programme. Making these Resource Planning Assumptions now gives councils and their housing association partners the best possible chance of pushing ahead with building much needed homes across Scotland.”

Welsh Government helps to create 60 new jobs

The Welsh GovernmentWelsh Economy Minister Edwina Hart has visited the Village Bakery in Wrexham with UK Minister for Trade and Investment Lord Green to announce more than 60 new jobs at the rapidly-expanding business.

More than 20 new jobs have already been created at Village Bakery – with a further 40 to follow – as a result of a £1.8 million expansion supported by the Welsh Government.

The investment will more than double staff numbers at the site and enable the business to increase capacity, invest in equipment and introduce additional lines to take advantage of new contracts from major supermarkets.

Mrs Hart said: “This is excellent news. This investment and expansion will not only support the growth of the business and is already creating new jobs, but will bring additional benefits to the Welsh economy through increased supply chain activity.

“I am pleased financial support from the Agri Food Development Fund enabled The Village Bakery to respond swiftly to maximise commercial opportunities as they arose with their key customers. It is another example of how the Welsh Government is helping business growth and job creation.”

During a tour of the facility MD Robin Jones spoke of the company’s ambitions to grow the business and said: “We were recently recognised as Wales’ fastest growing company and have a desire to continue this rapid growth and have an appetite for expansion.”

The Village Bakery, which is based in a 30,000 sq ft unit on Wrexham Industrial Estate, began trading in 2011 and has seen turnover increase from £400,000 to £6 million.

Countryside Properties wins £150m London estate rebuild

Countryside Properties wins £150m London estate rebuildEnfield Council has announced Countryside Properties as the preferred developer to regenerate the Alma Estate in Ponders End, North London.

Under the improvement scheme, the 717 homes on the Alma estate will be replaced with 800 new council owned, private and shared ownership homes.

As well as the new homes Countryside Properties will also be building replacement shops and new community facilities and new play spaces.

The Alma Estate is the Council’s largest housing renewal project, and is part of the wider redevelopment of Ponders End that has already seen completion of a new school and upgrades to transport and a nearby park.

Cllr Ahmet Oykener, Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing said: “This £150 million investment will revive this part of Enfield, providing first class affordable family homes and state of the art facilities.

“The appointment of Countryside Properties takes us a big step forward towards rebuilding the estate; creating a greener, safer and brighter neighbourhood.

“Our local community has a vital role to play in shaping the plans and we have written to our residents explaining how they can get involved. Now that a developer has been selected it won’t be too long before more progress is made.

“Our vision is to significantly improve Ponders End and strengthen the sense of community so that it becomes one of the most family friendly and desirable places to live in London. We’re well on the way to achieving that goal, and the redevelopment of the Alma Estate is a vital element to achieving our vision.”

Richard Cherry, Deputy Chairman at Countryside Properties said: “We are very excited about continuing our involvement in Enfield and working with our partners Enfield Council and Newlon Housing.

“We look forward to engaging and involving residents and the wider community to create a successful new development in Ponders End.”

Discovery Park Enterprise Zone to run on green energy

Discovery Park Enterprise Zone to run on green energyA £65 million steam turbine power plant that will create 100 jobs during construction is to be built at the Discovery Park Enterprise Zone.

Renewable heat and energy will be supplied to businesses across the 220-acre Discovery Park in Sandwich as well as the national grid – enough energy to supply the equivalent of 21,000 homes.

Estover Energy said building work was expected to begin next spring.

Planning permission for the biomass plant was granted this month. It has been estimated that 20 permanent positions will be created at the steam turbine power plant fuelled by local wood.

Energy minister Greg Barker said the plant would help stimulate the rural economy.

Mr Barker said: “By sourcing their fuel from the South East the wider benefits of developing a new supply chain are felt locally and provide a much-needed market to support coppice woodlands in south-east England,” he said.

Discovery Park chairman Trevor Cartner said: “The benefits to us and to the wider region are significant and we are proud that we can now offer our tenants a clean and sustainable source of energy for the future.”

Construction on major regeneration scheme in Smethwick gets underway

HCA Building Industry

Sandwell Council has teamed up with housing partners Barratt Homes to build 227 properties on the Windmill Eye development in Smethwick that will create new construction jobs.

The new housing scheme is in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Windmill Eye Neighbourhood Plan, which was developed in consultation with local residents, businesses and councillors.

The ambitious plan for the Windmill Eye area will see the building of new houses, bungalows and apartments on vacant sites as well as improve existing homes.

It will boost the estate’s environment by improving open spaces and play areas, improving existing shops and services and supporting economic growth and employment needs.

Councillor Darren Cooper, Leader of Sandwell Council, said: “It is great to see this scheme underway. We have a clear vision that Windmill Eye will be a prosperous family neighbourhood with safe places to play and work. These new homes play a key part of making that vision a reality.”

The homes have been designed to fit naturally into the surrounding residential area with a number of added features including a new cycleway across Messenger Road and two walk ways creating a link through the sites.

A mix of two-bedroom apartments, two-bedroom coach houses and two, three, four and six-bedroom houses will be available in the new Barratt range.

The partnership also sees Barratt Homes team up with Sandwell Council’s Employment Skills Plan which will provide employment opportunities and apprenticeships for local people.

Adrian Farr, Managing Director for Barratt West Midlands, said: “We are thrilled to be making progress at our latest scheme in Smethwick and we are looking forward to creating a thriving new community.

“This development is just one of the many significant construction projects in the Sandwell area at the moment and we are very glad to be part of the changing future of this Borough.

“The work will provide a lasting legacy for generations to come making the Windmill Eye area a destination of which everyone can be proud of.”


HS2 – crucial for economic growth and new jobs, says government

HS2 ProjectThe government has published new evidence in support for the HS2 railway construction project that will create thousands of new jobs and boost economic growth.

The new railway is estimated to deliver an annual boost to the economy of up to £15 billion as a result of productivity benefits to business from faster journeys and reduced crowding.

There will also be benefits of increased production efficiency from businesses being closer together, with new employment opportunities on the way. The analysis shows that the railway is vital in rebalancing the economy benefiting the north overall more than the south.

The government expects considerable regeneration around stations delivering jobs and growth similar to the experience of HS1 (the Channel Tunnel rail link). It has been estimated that the HS2 network will support over 100,000 jobs across Britain.

Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, said: “We need a radical solution and HS2 is it.  A patch and mend job will not do – the only option is a new railway.

“HS2 is fair on the north, great for commuters and the alternatives just don’t stack up.

“Now is the time to be bold and deliver a world class railway which Britain deserves and can truly be proud of.  Future generations will not forgive us if we fail to take this opportunity.”

The ‘Strategic case’ points to £10 billion private sector investment around the new HS1 station sites and major international firms moving in to the area around King’s Cross and St Pancras in London.

Other benefits of the railway included in the document are estimates from Network Rail that over 100 cities and towns could benefit from new or improved services as a result of capacity released on the existing rail network.  These include:

  • additional commuter services into London from places such as Watford Milton Keynes, Rugby and Northampton;
  • new commuter services into Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester;
  • new longer distance services, for example providing new and better links between Bradford and London; Lincoln and London; Shrewsbury and London; and Leeds and Cambridge; and
  • more paths for rail freight, with each extra train removing 50 HGVs from the roads.

Largest council housing scheme seen in Newham gets underway

Largest council housing scheme seen in Newham gets underwayNewham Council has given the go-ahead for building new houses as part of the largest house building programme in the borough for 25 years.

As part of a £26 million investment by Newham Council, 104 new council homes will be built over the next 18 months, paving the way for new jobs and boosting the trades.

Another £6.6 million grant has been given to the borough by the Greater London Authority that will see Newham Council purchasing 60 properties and converting a further 30 properties into three bedroom homes.

Also, using this funding, the council will create 26 more homes by changing the use of vacant commercial buildings and acquiring homes on new developments to deliver a total programme of 220 homes.

Cllr Andrew Baikie, Executive Member for Housing and Customer Services said: “Our priority for Newham residents is to deliver new jobs, new housing and create balanced and mixed communities.

“The Affordable Housing programme will help us to deliver on this. Not only will this scheme bring much needed socially owned family homes to Newham, it will also help to bring disused sites back into use further enhancing the areas these homes are built in.”

At a Local Development Committee meeting last week, councillors approved plans for another 22 three bedroom homes which form part of this scheme. The properties will be built on the site of vacant garages have been demolished to make room for the family sized homes.

The schemes consist of:

  • Eight two storey houses will be built at Dormer Close in Stratford
  • Four two storey houses will be built at Janson Close in Stratford
  • 10 two storey homes will be built on land opposite Brede and Darwell Close in East Ham.

Also as part of the scheme, councillors have already approved 16 houses on two separate sites in the Royal Docks to be built as part of the same programme.

The London Legacy Development Corporation has approved planning permission for three homes to be built on a site Kerrison Road, Stratford. A further 11 schemes are currently out for consultation as part of the planning process.

Balfour Beatty gets £73m coastal contracts

Balfour Beatty gets £73m coastal contractsBalfour Beatty has today announced the award of two multi-million coastal defence contracts for Blackpool Council and Wyre Council that will boost the building trades.

The £53 million Rossall Scheme for Wyre Council and the £20 million Anchorsholme Scheme for Blackpool Council will replace over 2.9km of the original 1930’s seawalls as part of the promenade renewal and beach management projects.

Balfour Beatty will utilise Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology on both schemes at design development stage and throughout construction to create a virtual environment to mitigate risks and manage interfaces prior to starting works on site.

Upon handover of the schemes, the company will train teams from both Councils to use BIM for asset management purposes including ongoing operations, maintenance planning and monitoring.

Andrew McNaughton, Balfour Beatty Chief Executive Officer said: “We are delighted to be continuing our relationship with both Blackpool Council and Wyre Council.

“Drawing on our extensive experience of delivering coastal defence schemes, we will utilise innovative construction methods such as BIM to deliver first class civil engineering schemes that will protect over 12,000 properties and local infrastructure from the risk of coastal flooding.”

Works on both contracts will commence on site this winter with completion for Anchorsholme in summer 2015 and completion for Rossall in the summer of 2017.

Both schemes will be predominantly funded by the Environment Agency. They form part of the wider Fylde Peninsula Coastal Programme which aims to protect properties from flooding and regenerate parkland areas for local community use.

Scotland approves latest boost for wind power capacity

Scotland approves latest boost for wind power capacityScottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing has today granted planning consent for a proposed extension at Mid Hill wind farm that will create new jobs and boost the trades.

The proposed extension to the wind farm will be developed by Mid Hill Wind Limited and will have nine turbines, bringing the total number of turbines to 34, generating total capacity of 102MW.

Mr Ewing said: “The Mid Hill wind farm will create jobs both in its construction and during its lifetime. Once it is up and running the wind farm will save thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, and with this extension will now be able to produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 48,000 homes.

“Wind farms, like Mid Hill, provide considerable benefits to their local community and play an important part in helping Scotland reach its target of the equivalent of 100 per cent of electricity demand generated from renewables.

“The Scottish Government wants to see the right developments in the right places and Scottish planning policy is clear that the design and location of any wind farm should reflect the scale and character of the landscape and should be considered environmentally acceptable.”

The farm could power almost 50,000 homes in the area and will have significant economic benefits to the Scottish economy.

CEO at Fred. Olsen Renewables, David Brunt, said: “We are very pleased to confirm that Mid Hill II Wind Farm has been successfully consented,

“This brings the combined capacity of projects developed by Fred. Olsen Renewables in the north-east of Scotland to over 230MW and affirms our position as the UK’s leading independent renewable power producer.

“We look forward to working with stakeholders and local communities to ensure that the benefits associated with these projects have a positive impact through mechanisms such as the already established community benefit funds.”