Kier and Enfield Council to secure first council housing for 30 years

Kier 2Kier Property and Enfield Council have formed a partnership to fund and build the first council homes in the borough for three decades.

The partnership will develop both affordable and private housing for rent in the north of Enfield, paving the way for new jobs and employment opportunities in the trades.

Funding has been raised for the development through Enfield Innovations Limited, a newly formed company wholly owned by Enfield Council, which enables the council to retain the private rental properties.

Kier will build new homes on seven small sites across the borough. On six of these the original council-owned bedsits were no longer fit for purpose and a seventh site was a disused garage.

The new development of 94 new residential homes comprises 37 affordable homes (20 social for rent; 17 for shared ownership) and 57 private rented homes.

The land, which has now been cleared, is being prepared to build a mix of one, two, three and four-bedroom homes, all within three miles of the town centre. Building work will start on the first two sites in December.

The design and specification of the properties has been agreed by the partnership, with the affordable housing retained by the council.

To speed up construction and reduce disruption to local residents, an off-site construction method will be used to provide houses that are more environmentally friendly and meet a high level of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Kier Property director, Phillippa Prongue, said: “We are delighted to be working with Enfield Council to deliver improved housing in the area. This is a highly innovative risk-sharing partnership agreement between the council and Kier Property to finance and build new housing, and we expect to see similarly bold initiatives from other local authorities as they look to follow Enfield’s lead in addressing the shortage of housing.”

Cllr Ahmet Oykener, Enfield Council’s cabinet member for housing and estate regeneration, said: “This approach is helping us to deal with an urgent need for quality housing for local people. The appointment of Kier Property as our chosen development partner to complete the small housing sites project ensures that we produce good council-owned property for the families that need it.”

Edward Davey opens major offshore wind farm

Edward Davey opens major offshore wind farmThe Secretary of State Edward Davey opened the West of Duddon Sands Offshore Wind Farm this week, which is located 20km off the Barrow-in-Furness coastline in North West England.

With 108 wind turbines, West of Duddon Sands will be able to generate 389 MW of electricity, which is enough to power over a quarter of a million homes. It is among the largest offshore wind farms in the world.

The wind farm’s newly constructed Operations and Maintenance Base in Barrow will support another 40 highly-skilled jobs for at least the next 20 years.

This is the fourth major offshore wind farm that will be managed from Barrow, which is a major hub for skills and resources for supporting offshore wind, and the UK’s leading region for the offshore wind industry.

Mr Davey was joined by ScottishPower and Iberdrola Chairman, Ignacio Galan, and DONG Energy Executive Vice President Wind Power, Samuel Leupold.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said: “This wind farm will generate enough clean electricity to power more than a quarter of a million homes and give the local economy a major and sustained boost.

“We want an energy mix that is built on diverse, home-grown sources to make sure our supplies are clean and secure. Wind has a huge role to play, which is why the UK is the best place in the world to invest in offshore wind projects.”

The wind farm was a £1.6 billion joint venture by ScottishPower Renewables and DONG Energy. Over 1,000 people have been employed on the renewable energy project, which has also seen more than 200 km of undersea cables installed.

West of Duddon Sands has been one of the most efficient offshore projects completed to date in the UK. It is the first to use next generation facilities, vessels and construction techniques.

The foundations and the turbine components were installed in record time, enabling the whole project to be completed two months ahead of schedule.

One of the biggest benefits to the project has been the new £50 million offshore wind terminal at Belfast Harbour. The terminal is the first purpose-built offshore wind installation and pre-assembly harbour in the UK and supports up to 300 jobs, ranging from welders to electricians and engineers.

This new build contributes to our future low carbon energy mix. It demonstrates how the UK market is rated as the most attractive place to invest in offshore wind in the world, and why major manufacturers are investing here, creating jobs and benefitting the UK economy.

Number of workless households in Scotland drops by 38,000

The Scottish GovernmentThe number of workless households in Scotland has reduced by 38,000 over the last year, figures published today reveal.

The Office of National Statistics figures count the number of households where no adults are working and show:

• The number of workless households in Scotland was 318,000, down 38,000 on the previous year – the second largest decrease in workless household level across all 12 regions and countries of the UK
• The workless household rate in Scotland was 17.5 per cent, a decrease of 2.0 percentage points over the year. This compares to the UK rate of 15.9 per cent;
• The proportion of children in Scotland living in a workless household decreased by 0.5 percentage points – just under 1 in 8 children or 11.8 per cent. This compares to a higher rate across the UK at 12.7 per cent.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “Today’s figures show that we are continuing to tackle unemployment and that the Scottish economy is growing.

“We now have the highest jobs figures in history, the highest female employment in history, the lowest level of unemployment since the end of 2008, lower unemployment than the rest of the UK and higher employment and lower inactivity.

“However, we need to continue to build on this and our task is to make sure that everyone is able to benefit from our economic success. That means everyone who wants it should have access to the employment and training they need to get on in life.

“That is why we have already set out key measures – including £16 million of additional investment in tackling youth employment and £4.5 billion of investment in infrastructure – that will secure continued growth and further improvements in employment.”

Work starts on site at new £3m global HQ in Telford

Work starts on site at new £3m global HQ in TelfordOil mist extraction specialist, Filtermist International, has marked the start of work on its new £3 million global HQ in Telford that will boost growth and help the economy.

The T54 site, which is owned by the HCA is part of a wider regeneration programme encouraging both national and international businesses to invest in the development of the region.

It was recently listed by the National Building Group and Building Magazine as one of the top 10% of local authorities providing a positive economic and planning environment for investment.

The site’s proximity to the current large-scale development of the Jaguar Land Rover site at i54 in Wolverhampton as well as its position on the M54 and nearby M6, makes it a priority site for Telford and Wrekin Council and the HCA.

Nick Bird, Area Manager for the HCA, Midlands, which owns 31ha of development land at T54 as well as land at Hortonwood and Halesfield business parks in Telford said: “We have been working closely with Telford Council’s Estates Team to market our land and win more new business investment into the Borough.

Filtermist’s announcement is a big breakthrough for T54 and is stimulating more interest in the site, with a further two agreements in the pipeline.”  

Councillor Bill McClements, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Finance and Enterprise, added: “Telford is home to over 150 international companies and we’re delighted to add Filtermist to the ever growing list.

The town and surrounding areas benefit from a number of inward investment incentives and we pride ourselves on the aftercare we offer to businesses that choose to locate here.”

Economic growth in Wales creates new jobs

The Welsh GovernmentThe Welsh Government programme has smashed its target of creating 16,000 job opportunities that will boost the trades and help the economy.

New figures show that 16,108 job opportunities have been created since the scheme began, and 12,730 vacancies filled.

This flagship Welsh Government programme provides unemployed young people aged 16-24 with a job opportunity for six months.

Jobs Growth Wales helps employers to grow their business by paying the young person’s salary, with the hope they will be offered sustained employment after six months.

The European Social Fund-backed programme has filled 432 job opportunities since September’s figures were announced, an increase on the previous month’s 348 jobs.

Today’s statistics show that eight out of ten Job Growth Wales opportunities have been taken up in the private sector. After the six month programme, 83% of participants progress into sustained employment, an apprenticeship or further learning.

The self-employment strand of Jobs Growth Wales shows that 395 new businesses have been created since the programme began in April 2012.

Deputy Minister, Julie James said: “These figures show the Welsh Government’s commitment to providing practical support to unemployed, young people. I’m very pleased that we’ve met our target for creating these opportunities so soon.

It’s no coincidence that recent figures have shown a drop in Welsh youth unemployment. Jobs Growth Wales is playing an important role in helping our young people start a range of exciting careers.

I’m very encouraged that so many private sector employers recognise how they can benefit by taking on employees aged between 16 and 24. Many young people finishing their six month’s opportunity with a private sector employer go on to a full-time job or apprenticeship with them.”

£1.2m jobs boost for Torquay

£1.2m jobs boost for TorquayEnvironment Minister Dan Rogerson has announced a £1.2 million worth of funding to help a South West company create new jobs and build a stronger economy in Torquay.

Gooch & Housego – which design, manufacture and supply fibre optic solutions used across the aerospace, defence, industrial, life science and scientific research sectors – will receive the award towards an £18 million expansion project providing a major boost to the region.

The Minister toured the company to see first-hand how the cash from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) is creating new jobs and boosting growth across the region through investment in their research and development, and production facilities.

Mr Rogerson said: “This company is a great example of how the Regional Growth Fund is helping to build a stronger, more resilient economy and a fairer society.

“Gooch and Housego will use this £1.2 million investment to grow and create 60 new jobs, no doubt securing long-term success for this ambitious business.”

Dr Andrew Robertson, Senior Vice President System Technology Group at Gooch and Housego, said: “The Regional Growth Fund has enabled us to further strengthen our capabilities in Torbay and facilitate sustainable strategic growth over the next decade and beyond.

“With the ongoing support of the Torbay Development Agency, the fund has allowed us to recruit six new people already and we hope to add thirty more to the team in the coming three years with this number growing to 60 in the next ten.

“This will allow us to add many new skills to our R&D team, build our talent pool of Photonics Engineers and continue to expand of our production facilities, crucial to securing our long-term growth.”

Through the RGF, companies commit to creating jobs and investing in their regional economy in return for Government funding.

So far £210 million of RGF money has been invested in businesses across the South West, helping to create 36,000 new jobs as companies have committed to investing an additional £700 million.

RGF Round Six, which will make at least £200 million available to companies across England, has just closed with 174 applications totalling more than £800 million. Thirty two bids worth £109 million were received from the South West. Successful bidders will be announced in the New Year.

Bowmer & Kirkland gets One New Bailey scheme

Bowmer & Kirkland gets One New Bailey schemeEnglish Cities Fund (ECf) has appointed contractor Bowmer & Kirkland to deliver One New Bailey, a 125,000 sq ft, eight-storey office development situated on the banks of the River Irwell.

Funded by Legal and General, the development marks a key milestone in the New Bailey scheme, which also includes a 615 space multi storey car park, currently under construction, and a 143-bed Premier Inn.

The Ralli Courts building, which formerly occupied the One New Bailey site has now been demolished and work started on October 20th 2014.

One New Bailey provides large floorplates of up to 17,212 sq ft and will be developed to the latest BREEAM Excellent standard. There are a number of leisure opportunities to the ground floor for a vibrant mix of cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as an enhanced public realm to the exterior in the form of a new public square, extensive landscaping and an outdoor events space, which can be accessed by the existing pedestrian bridge from Spinningfields.

Neil Brook, Bowmer & Kirkland North West Regional Director, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed on the next phase of the New Bailey development and look forward to furthering our relationship with ECf on what is a very important project being the first office development.”

Phil Mayall, development director at ECf, said: “Appointing a contractor on One New Bailey is another giant step forward in developing this exciting scheme, which will deliver much-needed, high quality office space in an excellent city centre location.

“We are very pleased to have appointed Bowmer & Kirkland on One New Bailey as they have already completed the Premier Inn to the agreed timescales and budget. We look forward to continuing to work with the team going forward.”

Buro Four is the contract administrator and DTZ and JLL are joint agents on the scheme, which is due for completion in spring 2016.

ECf is a joint venture between Muse Developments, Legal and General and the Homes and Communities Agency.

PM and Chancellor give green light to develop HS3

HS2 As part of the government’s long term economic plan for the north, the Prime Minister and Chancellor gave their backing to develop the high speed rail link HS3.

The high speed rail link will connect the north’s great cities which will significantly reduce journey times across the region, boost the construction industry as well as create new jobs.

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor were responding to a report published by HS2 Chairman Sir David Higgins which sets out proposals for how to maximise the benefits of HS2 in the north and how transport links can be improved in the north of England more widely.

In the report, Sir David identifies the vital importance of improving east west connectivity across the north and considers the central role a high speed rail link could play.

He concludes that with a high speed link the journey time between Leeds and Manchester could be cut from around 55 to between 26 and 34 minutes.

The government, working with Transport for the North, will now produce a comprehensive transport strategy for the region. This will include options, costs and a delivery timetable for a HS3 east west rail connection. An interim report will be produced next March.

By combining the strengths of the north’s great cities, the government believes that the proposals will help transform the economy of the north of England and play a key role in delivering a northern powerhouse.

The government is also launching a review into the costs and time it takes to build high speed rail, drawing on international experience to find ways to bring down the costs of Phase Two and future high speed rail projects.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Improving connectivity and reducing journey times between our great northern cities is a crucial part of our long term economic plan for the north to boost businesses and create more jobs and security for hardworking people. That’s why we are backing HS3.

“I welcome Sir David Higgins’ report which will help our work to create a northern powerhouse and ensure that HS2 delivers the maximum economic benefits.”

Chancellor George Osborne said: “The vision I set out earlier this year of the northern powerhouse we could build is rapidly taking shape. I asked Sir David Higgins to look at how we deliver the better transport links across the north that would make a reality of that powerhouse.

“I’m delighted with the rapid response and the report. Today we take another big step forward in delivering both the HS2 links from north to south and the HS3 link across the Pennines.”

New homes for the Highlands

The Scottish GovernmentFinance Secretary John Swinney has announced a deal to deliver new affordable homes for rent in Inverness, providing a boost to the local construction sector and wider economy.

The deal, for nine new homes at Balvonie Braes, is being delivered by Albyn Housing Society through the Scottish Government’s innovative National Housing Trust (NHT) initiative.

This will bring the total number of NHT homes in the Highlands to over 175. Almost 100 of these homes are already complete, with households settled in their new, high quality NHT homes.

It is estimated that the NHT in the Highlands is unlocking around £24 million in housing development, and supporting approximately 225 jobs.

When complete, the homes at Balvonie Braes will be available for rent at mid-market rates for a minimum of five years.

The Society has paved new ground by being the first registered social landlord to benefit from signing a Scottish Government guarantee, representing a further evolution of the NHT initiative.

Announcing the deal at the Convention of Highlands and Islands in Inverness today, Mr Swinney said: “This deal for new affordable homes for rent in Inverness brings the total number of homes delivered under NHT in the Highlands to over 175, and provides a further boost to the local construction sector, which is already benefiting from our support for affordable housing development.

“Not only is this investment helping support jobs, but it is also providing people and families with access to good quality, affordable homes where they can be safe and warm.”

Douglas Russell, Chair of Albyn Housing Society, said: “Albyn is pleased to be at the forefront of delivering new models of affordable housing supply, once again. There is huge demand for housing in Inverness at all tiers of the market, and by developing new and innovative schemes such as the NHT initiative we can assist more people to secure quality affordable accommodation and make the next steps towards home ownership.

“This £1 million project at Balvonie Braes will also provide a welcome boost to the region’s construction industry by employing local contractors. At Albyn Housing Society we aim to build strong communities, not just quality homes, and by supporting local jobs the project will bring benefit to the local community, even before we hand the keys over later next year.”

Councillor Thomas Prag, Chair of The Highland Council’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee, said: “We congratulate Albyn in becoming the first housing association to be landlords within the National Housing Trust initiative.

“This programme, which has helped us meet at least some of the demand for new housing within the Highlands, is a real help for those looking to rent decent, affordable accommodation and complements the rest of the work we are doing to increase the housing stock in Inverness and other areas of the Highlands.”

HS2 calls on industry to prepare for one of world’s largest construction projects

HS2 ProjectDelegates from 500 firms across the country have converged on Manchester Central conference centre this month to hear from High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd about what will be needed from the industry.

The HS2 scheme is set to offer an investment of £10 billion worth of contracts available for first phase between West Midlands and London, paving the way for new jobs in the trades.

Preparations are made to start building the first section of Britain’s new north-south high speed rail network that will get underway in just over two years’ time.

HS2 Ltd gathered together representatives from the rail, construction and associated industries to get them geared up to bid for work building Europe’s largest infrastructure project.

Commenting on the conferences, HS2 Ltd Chief Executive Simon Kirby said:“The pace of HS2’s development is accelerating so we’re ready to hit the ground running, assuming Royal Assent in 2016.  It is excellent to see such massive support and interest from industry in making HS2 a reality and this is a great opportunity for us to meet companies from across the country.

“To build HS2 between the West Midlands and London is a huge undertaking: £10bn worth of contracts and at peak construction we’ll be employing around 40,000 people to deliver the first part of this strategically important piece of infrastructure that is an investment in the country’s future stretching decades ahead.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “HS2 is a vital part of the government’s long-term economic plan, creating tens of thousands of job opportunities for people and businesses across the country.

“This supply chain summit is crucial to ensure UK industry, people and businesses are well placed to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity the new railway presents.

“It is imperative we make the best use of our skills and workers in building the high speed rail network and squeeze every possible benefit from HS2.”