Housing boom helps to build the recovery and create new jobs

Housing boom helps to build the recovery and create new jobsThe number of new homes registered in London last year was the highest since electronic records began over 26 years ago – new figures from NHBC have revealed.

In total 26,230 new homes were fully built and registered in London last year, a 60% increase on 2012 figures (16,364).

Overall, annual figures for new home registrations in the UK increased by 28% in 2013, compared to the previous year. This is the highest number of registrations (133,670) since the economic downturn in 2007.

Reacting to the latest survey, Stewart Baseley Executive Chairman of the Home Builders Association said: “A 28% increase in new home registrations is a huge leap and demonstrates the acceleration in house building activity.

“The Help to Buy Equity loan scheme is driving demand and builders are responding quickly by increasing output.

“Considering Help to Buy only launched in April in England, September in Scotland and not until this year in Wales, 28% is a significant increase in supply for 2013.

“If people can buy, builders can build, so creating tens of thousands of jobs on construction sites and in the supply chain.”

Commenting on the annual statistics, NHBC Chief Executive Mike Quinton said: “Looking back at 2013 it is very clear that it has been the best in a number of years for the sector as a whole, across the entire country.

“Over the year, we have seen a genuine return of confidence to the industry as builders strive to meet the growing demand for new homes that the UK clearly needs. Government initiatives such as Help to Buy have also contributed to registrations increasing at their fastest rate since the downturn.

“According to our records, London enjoyed its highest ever annual total of new home registrations. This can be attributed to prime sites, such as Nine Elms, now being redeveloped largely for residential use, an increase from overseas investment into the market and the capital’s continued appeal as a property hotspot.”

Government to drive construction growth and create new jobs

The Welsh GovernmentThe Welsh Government has welcomed new research by the CITB that shows that nearly 18,000 new construction jobs are expected to be created in Wales over the next five years.

The construction sector in Wales is set to grow 3.4% annually between now and 2018, according to the national training organisation for construction in the UK.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said this proved the Welsh Government’s determination to build Wales out of the recession by investing in infrastructure, supporting Welsh businesses and selling Wales to the world was having a real impact.

The Welsh Government’s Final Budget published in December provided new investment totalling £657.5 million to support Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan priorities including transport, housing and flood defences.

This includes nearly £175 million for Help to Buy Cymru which will support the development of 5,000 new homes and create a total investment of over £800 million.

Another £200 million boost for the Welsh school building programme will create or support 23,000 jobs across varied sectors of the economy.

The First Minister said: “Building Wales out of the worst economic recession seen for generations has been and continues to be this government’s top priority. Our actions are clearly working – with the construction industry in Wales now outperforming the rest of the UK.”

“In addition to providing a substantial boost to the construction sector, I am determined to ensure the economic recovery in Wales benefits the many, not the few.

“Our innovative community benefits approach to public procurement is paying huge dividends, with local businesses and local people benefiting hugely from our determination to ensure every Welsh pound available directly benefits Welsh people, Welsh business and Welsh communities.”

Solent Enterprise Zone gets major infrastructure boost

Solent Enterprise Zone gets major infrastructure boostMore than £7 million of Government investment is set to anchor growth and unlock development potential in the Gosport Waterfront area of the Solent Enterprise Zone.

Following a successful bid by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, the Government has announced a multi-million grant for essential public investment in infrastructure to upgrade the waterfront road within the Enterprise Zone.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles added: “Enterprise zones are at the centre of our long-term economic plans to build a stronger, more competitive business environment and a better future for Britain.

“This funding will give these areas the infrastructure they need to attract more investment, support the growth of local businesses and create up to 3000 jobs for hardworking people across the country.”

The funding will be used to:

  • Upgrade the main access road serving the southern third of the Enterprise Zone at Lee known as the Gosport Waterfront
  • Unlock the development potential of 15,000 sq m of land across three sites in the area through the provision of utilities and services
  • Provide spur road access into the development sites

Gary Jeffries, Chairman of the Solent Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is excellent news for the Solent Enterprise Zone and the wider area.

“Significant construction work is already underway on the Solent Enterprise Zone and this enables us to start work on a new area – the Gosport Waterfront.

“The grant from DCLG will unlock this area’s considerable potential by enabling us to invest public money in critical infrastructure and make early progress in creating new commercial development, providing new local jobs.

“In the slightly longer term we will be seeking investment in a comprehensive redevelopment that presents an exciting opportunity for private sector investment in new businesses, leisure and in new homes.”

New fund to transform community buildings and help the trades

New fund to transform community buildings and help the tradesCommunity buildings across the UK are set to benefit from a £5.5 million government boost to help them reopen to the public and create new jobs.  

Seventeen community buildings including a football stadium, cinema and pubs will see improvement of their existing use and boost the local economy.

These buildings and sites across England are all valued community assets, and today’s funding will pay for repairs, refurbishment and create local jobs.

Announcing this funding at the Bridewell Island site in Bristol that is due to be turned into a new youth centre, Minister for Communities Stephen Williams said: “Right across the country people are taking control of how their community is run, from setting up neighbourhood plans deciding on new development in the area to taking over local services.

“I want to go further still and the money announced today will help 17 treasured community assets provide leisure and cultural facilities for the future.

“It will also create jobs for local people, helping to build both a stronger economy and a fairer society.”

Each community asset will receive between £100,000 and £500,000 from a £5.5 million Department for Communities and Local Government community assets fund, managed by the Social Investment Business Group.

This brings total funding under the programme to £12 million since 2012. A further £3.5 million will be available later this year.

Stephen Williams added: “For far too long the government in Westminster sought to dictate every aspect of local life but we are bringing this to an end and handing back power to local people and communities who know best how they want to run things.

“The helping hand we are offering today will help these schemes get off the ground and provide inspiration for other communities to follow suit.”

City Deal signed to create thousands of jobs in Oxford

City Deal signed to create thousands of jobs in OxfordDeputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced today a deal to hand over power to local authorities in Oxford and the surrounding area that will create up to 30,000 jobs in the trades.

The City Deal will see major improvements in local roads and public transport specifically tailored to link universities with the city’s major industrial and research centres.

Road links to the Science Vale Enterprise Zone will be improved, and the first phase of the new Science Transit public transport scheme will begin.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Today we are signing over real power from Whitehall to Oxford, giving the people who know Oxford best an unprecedented opportunity to decide how to invest millions of pounds in the region.

“The Oxford City Deal will provide the improved roads and public transport links the area needs to make the most of its world class universities and innovative science facilities.

“By creating thousands of jobs and hundreds of new apprenticeships, this deal has the genuine power to change the fortunes of many people across the region, ensuring we are building a stronger economy and doing it fairly.”

Creating jobs

More than 18,000 long term jobs will be created through the deal, plus more than 30,000 construction jobs will be created to support the area’s development.

£55 million of central government funding for innovation, transport and skills will be combined with £40 million from local authorities to bring in £600 million from the private sector and create a total of almost 50,000 jobs in the area.

Today’s announcement comes as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Cities visit the Harwell science campus to sign the historic City Deal.

The Deputy Prime Minister will also announce today grant of over £1 million for innovation centre Element Six from the Regional Growth Fund. The cash will be used to extend research and development and create 24 jobs, further boosting the region.

Caltongate development approved by councillors

Caltongate development approved by councillorsPlans to redevelop Edinburgh’s city centre which will create 2,000 jobs have been approved by the City of Edinburgh Council’s Development Management Sub Committee.      

An international consortium headed by Artisan Real Estate Investors is planning a £150 million mix of leisure, retail and offices linking New Street and East Market Street with Waverley Station and the Royal Mile, covering a total area of around 220,000 sq ft.

It will be centred around a £6.5 million civic square with office space, 400 hotel bedrooms and commercial units. Artisan also previously obtained planning permission for 145 residential units and 40 affordable homes.

Councillor Ian Perry, Convener of the Planning Committee, said: “First of all, I would like to thank those that have taken the time and effort to contribute to the debate about this site over the last 10 years.

“Following an 18-month consultation period on the current plans, it is great news that we finally have a decision on a development which I believe will breathe new life into a long standing vacant site in the heart of the city.

“There will be substantial investment across the site in the public realm and the creation of a new public square will make the area more attractive and pedestrian friendly. A new viewing area will be built for people to enjoy the views to Calton Hill from Johnston Terrace.

“As the development has a mix of uses it will attract many more people to the area and with new housing on adjacent sites, including 40 affordable homes that are already being built, it will bring a real boost to the Old Town community.

“The economic benefit of this new development is huge and is estimated to bring in £43m to the local economy each year, as well as creating almost 2,000 jobs.”

Renewable projects in Scotland given the go-ahead

The Scottish GovernmentPlanning consent has been granted for two renewable energy projects that will create hundreds of new jobs and benefit local communities in Fife and the Highlands.

Scottish Ministers have granted consent for a 20-turbine wind farm at Moy, near Inverness, and a combined heat and power biomass plant for the Port of Rosyth.

The Moy wind farm, which represents a £65 million investment by developer Eneco Wind UK Ltd, will have 20 turbines with a generating capacity of up to 66MW.

The development could power the equivalent of approximately 31,000 homes in the area, paving the way for new jobs and boosting the trades.

Granting consent for the Moy wind farm, John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, said: “The Moy wind farm will create a significant number of jobs, as well as generating power for many thousands of homes.

“Projects like this provide considerable benefits to the local community, and play an important part in helping Scotland reach its target of 100 per cent of electricity demand generated from renewables.”

The Rosyth plant, a £325 million investment by Forth Energy, would provide low carbon energy to the local area, and the equivalent of over 40 per cent of the Fife Council area’s electricity needs would be met by the development.

Both projects would lead to the creation of a significant number of jobs, with the Rosyth plant bringing up to 500 jobs to the area during construction, and 70 operational jobs based at the port.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “The combined heat and power plant at the Port of Rosyth will create hundreds of jobs during its construction, and while in operation will continue to support local employment while generating renewable power for local business and industry.”

Birmingham City Enterprise Zone set for £15m funding boost

Birmingham City Enterprise Zone set for £15m funding boostBirmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone is to receive a £15 million cash injection to provide grants and loans to developers looking to start new projects and boost the economy.

The Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone consists of 26 sites around the city which have the potential over the next 25 years to deliver 1.3 million square metres of development and create thousands of jobs in the trades.

In July 2012, Birmingham City Council approved a £128 million investment plan to kickstart the Zone with specific allocations for the redevelopment of Paradise Circus and the extension of the Midland Metro. Included in the plan was £15 million for a site development and access fund.

The fund has now secured the backing of Birmingham City Council’s cabinet and it is hoped this will build on the progress with the Zone, which is forecast to create 2,500 by 2015 with a number of key developments already under way.

Cllr Tahir Ali, cabinet member for development, jobs and skills, said: “Birmingham quite rightly has a reputation as a city of enterprise and innovation, offering opportunities for business and employment.

“We’re committed to promoting economic growth but to do this we need to do all we can to help businesses overcome some of the barriers to finance which will in turn encourage private sector investment and generate additional business rates.”

Expressions of interest for grants managed by the city council and loans by Finance Birmingham will now be invited.

The access fund will contribute to the overall Zone by helping to increase commercial space, attracting inward investment and creating new job opportunities.

£1.7bn 2015-18 Affordable Homes Programme launches

Building IndustryThe Homes and Communities Agency has launched £1.7 billion of grant funding for the delivery of new affordable housing that will create new jobs and boost the trades.

Homes delivered with this funding will contribute to the Government’s ambition to deliver up to 165,000 new affordable homes across the country between 2015-18.

The HCA is planning to introduce some new features which will be factored into the bidding process and the programme itself, building on lessons learned from the current programme.

HCA Chief Executive, Andy Rose, said: “We have published full details for the new 2015-18 Affordable Homes Programme to make best use of the lead in time to the start of the new programme and ensure delivery can start from Day 1.

“We are continually looking at ways of maximising the number of new affordable homes for the funding invested, and secure early delivery.

“We have taken the opportunity to introduce new features which reflect some of the views expressed from partners during the current programme and during the programme development.”

The 2015-18 Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) is largely based on the current 2011-15 Affordable Homes Programme model.

Any bidder will be able to bid for firm schemes only. Current HCA Investment Partners with a proven track record of good delivery will be able to access the mixed route, where this has been agreed with the HCA.

This will maximise certainty of delivery, and delivery of firm schemes will be encouraged early on in the programme in order to help maintain an even supply of affordable homes.

This approach will also encourage bidders to bring forward a higher proportion of firm and realistically deliverable schemes at the outset as it will allow them the flexibility to respond to development opportunities as these arise.

Preferred contractor selected to build new £46m Uni library

Preferred contractor selected to build new £46m Uni libraryWillmott Dixon has strengthened its presence in the higher education sector by being awarded a £19 million design and build contract to construct the University of Bedfordshire’s new library in Luton.  

Spread over seven floors, the iconic building will become a landmark in the town centre incorporating 7,400 sq meters of space that will connect to the rest of the University’s Luton campus via a bridge link.

“The appointment of Willmott Dixon to build our new library is great news,” said the University’s Vice Chancellor Bill Rammell.

“This move further underlines our ambitions for current and future generations of students at Bedfordshire.”

Willmott Dixon is currently delivering nearly £200 million of projects to modernize, update and extend university accommodation, including the £46 million phase two of Birmingham City University’s master plan.

Chris Tredget, Managing Director at Willmott Dixon in the Northern Home Counties, said: “We are delighted to be involved and look forward to delivering this superb new library for the University of Bedfordshire.

“As a local company, with an office in nearby Hitchin, and staff living across Bedfordshire, we are naturally very proud to be responsible for an important addition to our community.

“We will also buy local construction materials whenever possible to support jobs and companies in the area.”

The latest development forms part of the University’s plans to invest some £90 million at Luton campus over the next five years and follows new campus developments at Luton over recent years.

These include the new £34 million Campus Centre, a £20 million Postgraduate and Continuing Professional Development Centre and the Fitzroy Court Student Village, on Vicarage Street, next to the Luton campus.

Willmott Dixon’s Northern Homes Counties team will commence building works this month, with the library’s completion expected in summer 2015.