Nick Clegg signs £129m growth deal for Swindon and Wiltshire

Nick Clegg signs £129m growth deal for Swindon and WiltshireThe Swindon and Wiltshire Growth Deal will help to create up to 1,500 jobs, allow up to 2,000 homes to be built by 2021 and generate up to £70 million in public and private investment.

Find out more about Growth Deals across the country.

Almost £13 million has been confirmed in the first year, and an ongoing commitment from the government will see more than £116 million of funding delivered from 2016 to 2017 onwards.

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “I’m delighted to be finalising this historic deal bringing real change to Swindon and Wiltshire.

This significant growth deal will enable a whole host of jobs to be created, see scores of homes built and transport improved. All of this is a major boost to the economy in the south-west.

Growth Deals are about local areas leading their own growth, giving more power to people in the regions so we work together to build a strong economy and a fairer society.”

Key features of the deal

These include:

A package of road schemes around the Eastern Villages development – a new urban expansion to the east of Swindon

speeding up the delivery of 8,000 new homes by 2026 to meet local housing needs

A new science park at Porton Down, which will provide facilities for research, development and advanced skills training for companies specialising in life sciences and healthcare

A range of transport schemes to help people and goods move more easily around Swindon and Wiltshire’s key growth zones, including Wichelstowe, where the signing took place today

The Swindon and Wiltshire Growth Deal is part of a £12 billion long-term programme to revitalise local economies. The deals are the latest example of the British economy being rebuilt from the bottom up, and sharing the benefits of the recovery around the country.

Wandsworth town regeneration scheme approved

Wandsworth town regeneration scheme approvedPlans have been approved for 201 new homes and a brand new library in the heart of the Wandsworth Town regeneration area that will help local growth and boost the trades.

The council’s planning applications committee this week approved a proposal to merge and redevelop three outdated sites linking Garratt Lane and Wandsworth High Street.

Planning applications committee chairman Sarah McDermott said: “Wandsworth Town is now one of the biggest regeneration projects in London with well over £1 billion of new investment flowing through the area.

Hundreds of new jobs and homes are being created here alongside major improvements to the local environment.”

The three sites include a nine-storey block owned by South Thames College and two buildings owned by the council – Welbeck House and 17-27 Garratt Lane.

The new development would create four new buildings ranging in heights from four to 26-storeys.

There are several major regeneration projects now underway in the Wandsworth Town regeneration area including the revival of Southside Shopping Centre, Wandsworth Business Village, the Ram Brewery, Lion House and The Filaments.

The Council and Transport for London are working on a redesign of the Wandsworth One Way system which would make the town centre more attractive and pedestrian friendly.

Ms McDermott said: “This is another important step forward in the revival of Wandsworth Town. The development will create valuable new connections through the town centre and attractive public spaces for the local community.

The new buildings along the high street and Garratt Lane are a huge improvement on the tired blocks they replace. Their design and size is much more appropriate and the new shops will make an active contribution to the street.

The new affordable and market homes are badly needed and the scheme will make another important financial contribution to removing the Wandsworth gyratory. This is key to reviving the high street and unlocking the town centre’s full potential.”

Councils receive £3bn reward for getting the country building

Councils receive £3bn reward for getting the country buildingCouncils have received almost £3.4 billion through the New Homes Bonus for building over 800,000 more homes, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis announced this week.

The minister said the figures demonstrated how more communities were saying ‘yes’ to new development, after planning reforms have put power back into the hands of local people.

It comes as new figures show that in the year to September, planning permissions have risen to 240,000 – showing that the locally-led system and incentives like the New Homes Bonus are working well.

Seeing the benefits of growth

In the year to October 2014, councils have helped provide 154,000 newly-built homes and conversions – including over 42,000 new affordable homes – and brought over 10,000 empty homes back into use.

Mr Lewis announced the provisional allocation of £1.2 billion New Homes Bonus to councils in England that will create new jobs and boost the building industry.

Since the New Homes Bonus was introduced in April 2011 more than 700,000 homes and conversions have been provided, and over 100,000 long term empty properties returned to use – leading to councils receiving almost £3.4 billion, including a £15 million premium for providing affordable homes.

Councils are free to spend the money as they see fit to benefit the local area – including freezing Council Tax.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “We’ve got the country building again and given local communities control over where new homes go in their area. This is in stark contrast to the housing crash and failed top-down regional strategies of the last government.

Councils have received more than £3 billion for their part in getting Britain building, and as a result housing construction has reached its highest level for 7 years.”

Communities Minister Stephen Williams said: “I’m delighted to see the number of long term empty homes going down with 100,000 being brought back into use. Today’s New Homes Bonus payments are in recognition of council-led efforts to make this happen.

But I want councils to go even further, and use the range of powers we’ve put in their hands to end the blight of empty properties in our neighbourhoods and bring them back into productive use for the families who need the stability and security new home can provide.”

Construction starts at Walsall Waterfront leisure scheme

Construction starts at Walsall Leisure Scheme

Work has started on site at the new Waterfront leisure scheme in Walsall this week that will create 230 jobs and help the local economy.

Developer Kier Property has appointed contractor GF Tomlinson for the project, which includes a new eight-screen cinema for ‘The Light’ and four new restaurants operated by Chiquito, Pizza Express, Bella Italia and Hungry Horse.

Only one unit remains as part of phase one, which will provide around 5,000sq ft of retail and leisure space, while four units are available in phase two, which will provide a further 14,000sq ft.

The £65 million Waterfront development has been a resounding success so far, regenerating over 17 acres in Walsall.

Oliver Butler, project manager for Kier Property, said: “We are delighted to confirm we are about to start work on site. This is fantastic news, following many weeks of working in partnership with GF Tomlinson. It’s great to finally get started and we look forward to watching the scheme progress through to completion in the autumn/winter of 2015.”

Paul Fish, director of GF Tomlinson, said: “We are proud to be selected to build this new number one leisure destination in Walsall. We plan to engage as much as possible with the local community to ensure we recruit in the vicinity to help follow the ethos of the entire scheme.”

Cllr Mohammad Nazir, Walsall Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We’re looking forward to seeing work start on site and very much welcome the investment and job creation that it will bring.”

Speedier decision-making key to construction sector

House BuildingDecisions on planning applications need to be made more quickly to help boost the construction industry, Scottish planning Minister Alex Neil said today.

Statistics published today show that between July and September 2014 the highest quarterly number of local housing developments were processed, and more quickly than ever before.

In addition, the average time taken to process both major developments and local developments is lower than last year.

Mr Neil said: “Effective planning is crucial to promoting strong, sustainable economic growth. We need to facilitate new developments and invest in modern infrastructure, while maintaining and creating great places to live and work.

So I am determined to enhance the reputation of our planning service by quickening momentum on planning performance and driving further improvement.

Today’s statistics show major developments are being processed more quickly than last year, and sustained good progress on local housing applications and local developments. Planning is about getting the right developments in the right place, and a consistently high approval rate shows authorities are working closely with applicants to meet that aim.

There is however inconsistency across the country and it’s clear that those authorities with longer timescales are impacting on the averages. I have written to every planning authority to give my comments on all aspects of their performance in the last year, and I will continue to monitor the planning statistics closely.”

Manchester scheme encouraged to employ local workers

Leading businesses in south Manchester have been called upon to support local people and community causes by a new network that will boost growth and create new jobs.

The Employment, Training & Communities (ETC) has been initiated by affordable housing contractor Wates Living Space, Manchester City Council’s South Regeneration team and Southway Housing Trust.

Businesses in Didsbury, Chorlton, Whalley Range, Withington, Fallowfield, Burnage and Levenshulme are being encouraged by the initiative to employ local people who are currently out of work or looking for training into a new career path.

Companies which sign up to the scheme can attend quarterly events with key themes and guest speakers. They will also have the opportunity to work in partnership and network with other organisations on community engagement programmes and share knowledge, expertise and good practice with support from major stakeholders in south Manchester.

During the launch event, the founding companies showcased what they have already achieved under the scheme such as helping 130 south Manchester tenants receive training in the construction sector.

In addition, 86 people being supported into work through a range of initiatives and assisting community organisations access £78,000 to run services to help residents find employment.

Lee Sale, Regional Director for Wates Living Space, said: “We’re really pleased to be launching the ETC scheme in partnership with Manchester City Council and Southway Housing Trust.

There are currently over 10,000 people looking for work in south Manchester and we’re hopeful this scheme will take big strides in helping people into employment or training and encouraging volunteers to take part in local good causes. We thoroughly recommend businesses in south Manchester sign up to this progressive cause.”

Councillor Sue Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Joining the ETC network is the perfect way for businesses in south Manchester to expand their professional networks, while also enhancing their links with their local community.

Working together, we can help create new employment and training opportunities for local people, while making sure that businesses are finding the right recruits to help them grow.”

Countryside wins 400-home London rebuild

Countryside wins 400-home London rebuildCountryside has been named the development partner to work with Waltham Forest Council on the extensive regeneration of Marlow Road, E17 which will bring over 400 new homes to the area.

The project will see the transformation of the estate with the existing properties replaced with new homes that will pave the way for new jobs and boost the construction trades.

Countryside is working alongside local residents and stakeholders on the detailed design proposals which will be submitted for approval in Spring 2015 with building works starting later in the year.

The scheme, designed by Stitch Architects, includes 150 affordable homes and flexible retail space around a new Plaza and public square.

Richard Cherry, Chief Executive of Countryside’s Partnerships division, said: “We are delighted to be the development partner for Marlowe Road and look forward to working with Waltham Forest Council and residents to deliver much needed new housing for the local area.

Our focus will be on bringing back traditional tree-lined streets that link well with the surrounding area, with active frontages providing well defined spaces for the neighbourhood to enjoy.”

A review by the Council in 2010 identified the 1960s estate, which has suffered from crime and deprivation, as a priority for investment. It has poor pedestrian walkways and linkages, while gardens and store sheds are underused.

Carillion consortium achieves financial close on £550m scheme

Carillion consortium achieves financial close on £550m schemeCarillion, Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try have been appointed as the preferred bidder to finance, design build and operate the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.

The project, which is estimated to be worth in the region of £550 million, is being delivered in partnership with Transport Scotland, Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council and is being procured under the Scottish Government’s Non-Profit Distribution (NPD) model.

Carillion expects to invest up to £20 million of equity (one third share) in the project and to have a one third share of the construction revenue.

Following the completion of construction in winter 2017, the route will be managed and maintained by Aberdeen Roads Limited for 30 years.

Carillion Chief Executive, Richard Howson said: We are delighted that our consortium has achieved financial close on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route/Balmedie to Tipperty project, which is the largest of its kind in Scotland to date.

The project is firmly in line with Carillion’s selective approach to construction, namely of focusing on large, high quality projects, notably those involving integrated solutions.

We look forward to working closely with Transport Scotland, Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council to deliver this major improvement to the transport network around Aberdeen.”

Stamp duty reform accelerates hundreds of new homes

Stamp duty reforms – factsheetSouthampton house builder Crest Nicholson has announced it will bring forward the next phase of development at Centenary Quay and build 280 new homes – 128 of them in the next year – following government reforms to stamp duty.

New analysis by the company also revealed today that the reforms will save buyers in Southampton over £1,660 per transaction and increase demand for new homes.

In addition, since 2013 44% of sales at Centenary Quay were made through the government’s Help to Buy scheme and a further 101 apartments were sold for Build to Rent.

The news comes as Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne met homebuyers at Crest Nicholson’s Centenary Quay development in Southampton.

Read the government’s stamp duty factsheet, for information on the changes.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “This is great news for Southampton – not only are Crest Nicholson building more homes quicker but buyers will also see real cash saving when they purchase a house.

Stamp duty was one of the worst designed taxes and acted as a brake on aspiration for those who wanted to get on or move up the housing ladder. The new system means there will be tax cut for 98% of homebuyers who pay stamp duty.

Together with the government’s Help to Buy scheme, which has helped more than 10,000 people in the South-East and over 71,000 people across the country buy their new home, we’re taking action to help hard-working taxpayers achieve their goals – and for many, their biggest goal is owning their own home. It’s a key part of our long term economic plan.”

Debbie Aplin, Managing Director of Crest Nicholson Regeneration, said: “The recent changes to the stamp duty system are extremely welcome. These reforms will undoubtedly boost activity in the housing market, re-stimulating building rates and enable us to drive the rate of sales back to pre-recessionary levels.

This will in turn support further job creation and have a positive overall impact on the entire economy. Most importantly though, the impact of changes to stamp duty will remove a lot of uncertainty for consumers over the coming months, helping to solve the affordability challenge so many purchasers are facing. “

HS2 signs construction pledge

HS2The HS2 scheme has signed up to the Construction and civil engineering industries pledges as part of its ongoing commitment to support the health, safety and well being of its employees.

Through signing up to these pledges HS2 aims to break new ground to establish innovative, world-class ways of working that set the standard for the rest of the industry, by committing to the promotion of health in construction and setting challenging performance standards for its supply chain.

HS2 Chief Executive, Simon Kirby said: “Thoughtful and inclusive management of our employees’ health, safety and well being can bring real benefits including better staff engagement, improved productivity and reduced staff turnover.

The pledges we are making today are for all members of our staff and our supply chain.

Through signing the Responsibility Deal, we recognize the importance the workplace plays in maintaining the mental and physical well-being of our staff.”

Dame Carol Black, Chair of the Responsibility Deal health at work network, said: “Over the past year, the Public Health Responsibility Deal has been engaging in a sector-specific way. Working with the construction industry, we have developed a construction pledge with 99 construction companies now signed up to it.

We are delighted to have high-profile rail companies like Crossrail and now HS2 joining the Responsibility Deal and we feel sure that this will encourage other rail companies to do the same.”

735 partners have now joined the Responsibility Deal and HS2 is the 100th organisation to sign the Construction and Civil engineering pledge.

The six pledges cover a range of areas including:

A health and well being strategy for staff and contractors as the project moves towards construction;

Use of accredited occupational health providers;

Implementing regular staff health checks ;

Procedures to support staff with chronic conditions;

A programme of activities relating to mental health and well being;

Facilities for cyclists and runners;