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.

Galliford Try gets £55m affordable housing contract

Galliford Try  1Galliford Try has announced that its Partnerships business has been selected for new affordable housing and Extra Care contracts worth a combined £55.2 million.

Partnerships has been selected by long-term client the ExtraCare Charitable Trust to build the £32 million Earlsdon Park retirement village in Coventry.

As well as providing 262 apartments for sale and rent, the village will also include a wide range of health and leisure facilities available to local residents and older people in the wider community.

Also, Central Bedfordshire Council has appointed Galliford Try Partnerships as preferred bidder for the £13.4 million Priory View development in Dunstable.

The project will see the creation of 83 apartments for older people with assistive technology and integrated community and lifestyle facilities, including a café, health and beauty facilities, and hobby rooms.

Finally, in the South West, Partnerships has been contracted to deliver the Creechbarrow project as part of a successful bid through the Homes and Communities Agency’s Delivery Partner Panel.

The £9.8 million project will see the creation of 94 new affordable homes and additional commercial space on Creechbarrow Road in Taunton, with 32 homes being built for Knightstone Housing Association and 62 for Taunton Deane Borough Council.

Galliford Try Chief Executive Greg Fitzgerald commented: “Our Partnerships business is continuing to grow and these new contracts demonstrate the diversity of its expertise and its successful positioning in the market.

“Our track record in Extra Care in particular is burgeoning, and we remain committed to providing our clients with the high quality homes and facilities that their residents need.”

Government support for small businesses

Small firms will see the cost of doing business fall this year following measures brought in by the government to help them get on.

Speaking at a Federation of Small Businesses event, Prime Minister David Cameron has set out how the success of small businesses is central to the government’s long term economic plan.

He pledged his commitment to continue to make it easier for small businesses to thrive, create new jobs and boost the UK economy.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Small businesses play an important role in boosting growth and creating jobs. I regularly meet these companies across the UK to hear first hand how government can do its part to help small and medium sized businesses grow and succeed.

“We have acted on their demands by improving access to finance with the new British Business Bank which I established last year, by significantly reducing red tape and by increasing the take up of business rate relief.”

This package is part of the government’s efforts to boost support for the growing number of small businesses across the UK. Small firms employ around 14 million people and are making an increasingly significant contribution to the British economy.

Enterprise and Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: “Small businesses are the bedrock of the UK economy and I’m delighted that today at the Federation for Small Businesses’ policy day, we are able to cement our commitment to help them grow.

“Small businesses are responsible for nearly half the job creation in the UK. That’s why we must continue our drive to provide the support they need to scale-up, move into new markets and hire more staff so that they can compete in the global race.”

New affordable housing scheme to get Britain building

New affordable housing scheme to get Britain buildingHousing Minister Kris Hopkins has today announced a housing scheme that will see the building of 165,000 new affordable homes and boost the economy.

The ambitious scheme will achieve the fastest rate of affordable housebuilding for 20 years, supporting thousands of construction jobs and sustaining British businesses.

The building programme will also provide a boost to thousands of small businesses that supply building materials to developers, from timber traders to tile makers.

Starting today housing associations, councils, and housebuilders will be invited to bid for government funding that, when combined with private investment, will deliver a £23 billion programme between 2015 and 2018.

New jobs and more trade for small businesses

Every home built under the scheme will support a person’s job. That means 165,000 job opportunities over 3 years in every part of the country, many for young people.

Almost a million independent firms are involved in the construction industry, accounting for 20% of all small and medium-sized companies, and businesses that supply building products have an annual turnover of more than £50 billion, which contributes 4.5% to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product.

Mr Hopkins said housebuilding was at its highest level since 2007, and construction orders were increasing at the fastest rate for 10 years, but it was now vital that councils provided more land for new homes, and the surge of housebuilding continues to grow.

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said: “Housebuilding is an essential part of this government’s long-term economic plan. That’s why we have designed an ambitious new scheme to build affordable homes at the fastest rate for 20 years.

“Our programme will support 165,000 jobs in construction, sustain thousands of small businesses and provide homes where future generations can live and raise families of their own.”

Midlands job boost as Willmott Dixon plans huge recruitment drive

Midlands job boost as Willmott Dixon plans huge recruitment driveWillmott Dixon has given the West Midlands economy more good news by announcing plans to recruit nearly 200 people across the region in 2014. 

It comes after 100 new jobs were created last year by Willmott Dixon across its Midlands operations.

Willmott Dixon’s construction managing director Peter Owen said: “Our recruitment plans are a big indicator of the wider economic growth we envisage across the region in 2014 and beyond.

“We want to ensure it benefits the whole region by recruiting locally and using Midlands companies as much as possible.”

The company, which has local offices in Coleshill, Kingstanding and Kings Heath, employs over 1,000 people in the West Midlands and is recruiting for a variety of positions to support its planned growth in 2014.

The opportunities available include vacancies for building managers, estimators, purchasers, quantity surveyors and planners, plus roles for people with trades such as plastering, joinery and carpentry.

Willmott Dixon’s housing managing director in the Midlands, Simon Leadbeater, said: “Much of our work is for the retirement sector and that’s not surprising as Government data tells us that by 2030 we will see a 50% rise in the number of over-65s and a doubling in over-85s.

“This important part of our community needs quality homes to live independently while also having access to care when needed.”

On the construction side, major projects include the £46 million phase two of Birmingham City University’s new campus in Eastside, adjacent to Millennium Point, and University of Leicester’s £42 million Centre for Medicine, the largest non-residential project to meet Passivhaus standards.  The company expects to announce further project gains shortly.