200,000 homes on brownfield land set to be built

200,000 homes on brownfield land set to be built Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis this week announced a multi-million pound fund to help provide 200,000 new homes on brownfield sites across the country.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Our efforts to get the country building again are working – housing starts are at their highest since 2007 and climbing. But we need to do more, delivering more homes while at the same time protecting our precious green belt.

That’s why today I’m taking steps that will help to make enough brownfield land available for 200,000 homes up and down the country, creating the homes and jobs communities want and need.”

Housebuilding is a key part of the government’s long-term economic plan – with starts now at their highest since 2007.

The £4.4 million fund will enable councils to bring forward brownfield sites of 100 homes or more in their area – making it quicker and easier for developers to get work started.

Unlocking development on brownfield sites

Since 2010 the government has pulled out all the stops to get the country building again – while at the same time keeping in place strong protections for green belt land.

The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear the need to prioritise building on previously-used brownfield land, while new measures make it easier to convert existing commercial, retail and agricultural buildings for residential use.

All this means more than two thirds of all new homes are now built on brownfield sites, while in the year to September planning permission was granted for 240,000 new homes.

But the government wants to go further – and has set a clear ambition to have local development orders granting planning permission for new homes in place on over 90% of suitable brownfield land by 2020.

This will let developers get planning permission quickly – getting workers on site quicker, and homes that communities want built.

New funding to boost growth and jobs in Gloucestershire

New funding to boost growth and jobs in GloucestershireTransport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has visited Gloucestershire to announce how £15 million of investment will help create jobs and growth in the county.

The announcement is the next phase of Local Growth Deal funding which will help create 6,000 new jobs and provide 400 new homes in Gloucestershire.

The announcement comes after the government and all 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships agreed to expand the growth deals that were struck last July.

This funding is devolved from central government to Local Enterprise Partnerships and will fund the projects to be delivered by local authorities, businesses, colleges and universities.

They will use it to help train young people, create thousands of jobs, build new homes and start hundreds of infrastructure projects, including transport improvements and superfast broadband networks.

During his visit to Gloucestershire the Transport Secretary saw how multi-million pound funding will regenerate the Blackfriars and Quayside area in the heart of Gloucester and promote Gloucestershire’s renewable energy, engineering and nuclear skills along with other projects spanning aviation and retail.

Patrick McLoughlin said: “This £15 million funding will make a lasting improvement to Gloucestershire’s economy. Providing investment for the county to drive its own growth and job creation forms a major part of this government’s long-term economic plan.

The projects will provide the businesses, housing and skills that will build on the economic strengths already evident in Gloucestershire.”

The Growth Deals – which see a total of £1 billion allocated to local partnerships – bring funding for infrastructure, housing, and other projects together in a single pot and put directly into the hands of local authorities and businesses.

They can then invest based on their knowledge of what is needed in their area to maximise the potential for economic growth.

Galliford Try secures extra contracts worth £72m

Galliford Try  1Galliford Try announced today that it has been successfully appointed to four new major contracts in the extra care and affordable housing sectors, worth a combined £72 million.

Partnerships has signed contracts with the ExtraCare Charitable Trust (ECCT) for its new £36 million retirement village set in five acres of land on the former MG Rover plant in Longbridge, south west of Birmingham.

The new development will create 260 apartments (105 one-bed and 155 two-bed apartments) for the over 55s and feature a village centre that includes a village hall, bar, restaurant, gym, IT suite, hair and beauty salon and shop.

Secondly, financial close has been reached on the £18 million scheme to build the new 135-bed ‘Village 135’ extra care facility for Wythenshawe Community Housing Group.

The project consists of two sites connected by a glass-enclosed pedestrian walkway and will provide a range of facilities for residents including a salon, cafeteria and main kitchen, a winter garden and roof terrace with planting area.

The scheme will provide a mix of 66 apartments for affordable rent, 39 apartments for shared ownership and 30 apartments for outright sale.

One Housing Group has appointed Galliford Try to two new contracts that will deliver the Protheroe House (£9.2 million) and Pretoria Road (£9 million) developments in North London.

The Protheroe House scheme will create a 50-bed extra care facility in Haringey including a large communal garden, roof terrace, hobby room and well-being centre as part of the development.

The Pretoria Road project will see the construction of 44 one-bed and eight two-bed properties in Hackney. Eight of the homes are specifically designed to be dementia friendly.

Galliford Try Executive Chairman Greg Fitzgerald said: “Galliford Try’s track record in extra care developments is second to none and we are delighted that the ExtraCare Charitable Trust, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group and One Housing Group have placed their trust in us to deliver the high quality facilities their customers deserve.”

Bouygues UK appointed to deliver £55m Paddington Exchange contract

Bouygues UK appointed to deliver £55m Paddington Exchange contractA central London development that will provide 150 new homes in the London Borough of Westminster has moved a step closer after Taylor Wimpey appointed Bouygues UK to deliver the project.

Work on Paddington Exchange, which is due to start in January, will see the transformation of a former car park into a new mixed-use, which will provide a combination of 1, 2 and 3-bedroom affordable and private homes in the capital.

The site will consist of four residential blocks varying in height: with the lowest at eight storeys and the largest standing at 14 storeys high.

Four new commercial units will also be included as part of the development, which is expected to take around two years to deliver and will be handed over in three phases.

Ingrid Skinner, Managing Director of Taylor Wimpey Central London, said: “This marks an exciting step forward for our Paddington Exchange development. It is one of the largest and most innovative projects in our portfolio and we are very much looking forward to getting construction underway.

The appointment of Bouygues UK reflects our commitment to forging industry-leading partnerships to create genuinely high quality and sustainable new communities across Central London.”

Bouygues UK’s Regional Director for Housing in London, John Campion, said: “This latest contract underlines our credentials and solid reputation for working with leading property developers in London.

From our work in Bayswater on The Hempel Collection, to Pontoon Dock and Hallsville Quarter in Newham; from Queens Park Place in Brent to the Ice House Quarter in Barking and Dagenham, we’re working with local authorities and developers to deliver much-needed housing and regeneration for people right across the capital.”

Skanska supports expansion of green initiative

Skanska supports expansion of green initiativeSkanska has been working with Action Sustainability and facilities management providers to develop the Supply Chain Sustainability School to support this sector of the industry.

The new section is being launched today at a special event at the Natural History Museum in London to help construction suppliers and sub-contractors develop their organisations’ sustainability knowledge and competence.

Skanska was a founder member of the Supply Chain Sustainability School, which is a free, online virtual learning environment. The school has over 7,000 members, with 15 of the UK’s top 20 construction firms involved.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills, which is a government body, is investing £285,000 in expanding the school, enabling it to provide materials about the facilities management sector.

The new section will have a range of resources, including e-learning modules and a management system to monitor progress.

The first facilities management supplier day will be hosted by Skanska in Bristol on 4 March.

Facilities Services Managing Director Katy Dowding said: “Bristol is a fitting place for our first supplier day, as Skanska is a sponsor of the city as European Green Capital 2015. Skanska is recognised as being one of the greenest companies in the UK.

Our involvement and support of the facilities management section of the Supply Chain Sustainability School will help suppliers to become even greener. It is an invaluable resource, which offers a huge range of information and expertise.”

Councils will enable more homes to be built

Councils will enable more homes to be builtCouncils can play a greater role in getting the country building and create new jobs in the trades, an independent review has shown.

In their report to the government, Natalie Elphicke and Councillor Keith House argue for councils to be put at the heart of providing more homes across all tenures in their local area.

Under their proposals, councils would become “housing delivery enablers” – assessing the housing need of their area, working with businesses, housing associations and others to provide the homes their residents want and need to build strong and sustainable communities.

In particular, the report urges councils to consider how they can actively support smaller and start-up housing businesses locally – whether with land, finance or training.

Ms Elphicke and Councillor House also urge the government to take steps to support councils as they take on this new role.

Natalie Elphicke said: “All hands are needed on deck. Unlocking councils will help to deliver the homes we need and get more young people onto the housing ladder.

We have talked for a decade. There have been many great reforms. Now it’s time for councils to foster a home-building revolution.”

Councillor Keith House said: “We have seen some inspiring examples of councils driving housing for their areas, particularly where they have set up housing companies to drive forward housebuilding. With skills and confidence, more councils can help to deliver that step-change in housing supply.

Councils will be central to a successful step-change in housebuilding. It’s now time for action not words. Our report sets out how that can happen.”

Win a share of £100k and cut your energy bills

Win a share of £100k and cut your energy billsA share of £100,000 is up for grabs as part of a new community energy competition launched today by Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Edward Davey.

Community groups and other eligible organisations across England are invited to apply for the funding to develop innovative energy-saving ideas that could help slash energy bills.

Ideas can be anything from hosting an energy advice stall in your local shopping centre, to crowd-funding solar panels for your local church or running a ‘buddy’ programme to help vulnerable households get to grips with their energy bills, switch energy suppliers and save money.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said: “We’re looking for communities to tell us how they want to take control of the energy they use so they can cut their bills.

Local people will know what works best in their areas, and their ideas will help driving even more investment into local energy projects.”

The competition is open to all community groups that are registered as legal entities – such as local authorities or parish councils, charities, faith groups, social landlords, trusts, community interest companies or co-operatives.

The successful applications will be able to demonstrate the biggest potential drop in energy consumption and bills.

Applications close on 10 February 2015, with the winners due to be announced shortly afterwards. Successful applicants will need to deliver their idea by the end of March 2015.

Visit the Community energy webpage for more information or to apply.

Record funding for seaside towns to kick-start jobs and boost the trades

Record funding for seaside towns to kick-start jobs and boost the tradesSeaside attractions across England are to benefit from a record £36 million government investment to boost growth in coastal areas.

Blackpool’s iconic illuminations are one of many seaside attractions across England to benefit from a record £36 million government investment to boost growth in coastal areas.

The money – from the Coastal Communities Fund – will support projects that will create nearly 3,000 jobs and almost 1,500 apprenticeships and training places.

Coastal Communities Minister Penny Mordaunt said: “Backing our coastal towns so they can rise up and drive forward their local economies is a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure a brighter future for Britain.

This money will help create jobs, boost skills and open up new business opportunities, benefitting hard-working people in coastal communities across the country.

These fantastic projects demonstrate the creativity, enterprise and passion needed to help seaside towns become year round destinations that people are proud to live and work in.”

Supporting coastal communities to unlock their enormous potential, boost local economies and contribute to the wider area is an important part of the government’s long-term economic plan.

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “I created the Coastal Communities Fund because, as someone who grew up on a small island, I know how much difference targeted investment can make to people’s lives.

Overall, hundreds of communities across the UK will benefit, creating jobs and making sure that some of our most remote and fragile communities share in the economic recovery.”

Projects to benefit include:

Blackpool’s world famous illuminations receive nearly £2 million to help create new light shows that will become a major tourist attraction and create and support nearly 550 new jobs

Tate St Ives will get £3.8 million to help extend the art gallery so it can welcome 76,000 new visitors a year to the area and create more than 200 local jobs

a cycle and walking path in Dawlish linking the town centre with the iconic Exe Estuary Trail tourist route and designed to increase visitor numbers will receive £1.3 million and create more than 35 local jobs

Scarborough’s historic market will get £2.7 million to refurbish the market and create space for 30 new businesses creating more than 80 jobs and apprenticeships

Balfour Beatty appointed for £120m Essex Uni housing project

Balfour Beatty appointed preferred bidder for £120m Essex Uni housing projectBalfour Beatty, the international infrastructure group, announces today that it has been appointed preferred bidder for the University of Sussex’s East Slope Residences project.

In partnership, alongside the University, Balfour Beatty will design, build, finance and operate the project under a 50 year contract that will boost the local economy and create new jobs.

Subject to planning approval, the project will replace an existing 600 bed facility on the University’s campus with a new living space comprising 2,000 new bedrooms in a range of formats including townhouses and some with ensuite facilities.

It will also incorporate innovative student amenities such as social hubs and new student union facilities. Construction is anticipated to start in 2016, and would be delivered by Balfour Beatty’s UK construction services business.

Balfour Beatty’s investment business has achieved considerable success in the student accommodation market, developing a portfolio of 15 projects (including those currently at preferred bidder), across the UK, US and Australia.

Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty Group Chief Executive, said: “Following the revaluation of the portfolio last week, this project demonstrates the continued value our Investments business brings to the whole Group. We look forward to supporting the University with their growth ambitions and delivering on their sustainability targets.”

Government and industry creating growth for the UK

Government and industry creating pipeline of growth for the UKSkills Minister Nick Boles has announced £1.1 million of government funding to match £1.7 million of industry investment to help create a legacy of engineering jobs and skills from major projects.

The project brings together industry leaders, including Crossrail-linked employers, working on major tunnelling and underground construction projects. It follows a successful bid from the group for funding through the government’s Employer Ownership Pilot.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Our investment in major infrastructure projects has established the UK as a world-leader in tunnelling and underground construction.

Crossrail alone is supporting in the region of 55,000 jobs and with other major projects planned we want to go even further, to create a jobs legacy for future generations and give the industry the skills it needs to dig deeper and further.”

This project will create a new industry partnership involving tunnelling and underground construction employers, to generate lasting benefits for current and future engineers.

Part of the partnership’s work will see the creation of a new Industry Advisory Panel (IAP), representing all Crossrail-linked employers and future large tunnelling employers, working together to identify ways to grow the industry.

Terry Morgan, Crossrail Chairman said: The volume of tunnelling and underground construction work taking place in the UK over the next decade is unprecedented.

Crossrail, in partnership with its principal contractors, has delivered the most significant injection of new skills in a generation. It is essential that we continue to grow the industry’s talent base to ensure Britain remains at the forefront of major infrastructure delivery.”

More than £460 billion of public and private investment will be made into the UK’s economic infrastructure by 2020.