Go-ahead for three London river crossings

go-ahead-for-three-london-river-crossingsThe Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has outlined his commitment to providing greener and more public transport-focused river crossings in the East and South East of London.

The Mayor has set out a package of new river crossings to be built in the next five to 10 years that will vastly improve travel across the capital, while supporting new affordable homes and business opportunities in East London.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s no secret that London has long needed more river crossings in the east. With new homes and economic growth across East London, it becomes even more important that we deliver new greener transport links that allow Londoners to cross the river quickly and more easily.

“But we don’t want these to have a damaging impact on our environment, and that’s why I’ve reviewed and improved plans for Silvertown Tunnel and why I’m pushing forward with crossings that encourage public transport, walking and cycling.

“As we continue to unlock the massive economic potential of East London, we must secure the very best transport infrastructure that improves the quality of life for everyone living and working in the area.”

Morgan Sindall gets £7.3m job at Heathrow

morgan-sindall-gets-7-3m-job-at-heathrowMorgan Sindall has been appointed by Heathrow Airport to carry out £7.3 million of refurbishments and improvements to its infrastructure, runways and stands.

Pre-contract enabling works have been carried out to ensure there is no damage to underground services and the project team has already completed the first phase of the scheme, which involved resurfacing the T5 end of the southern runway.

The runway was re-surfaced with a new polymer modified bitumen (PMB) asphalt, designed specifically for use in airports due to its high strength and resistance to cracking.

The next stage of the project involves working directly in front of the BAE line maintenance base to replace underground stone water-drainage pipes.

The site team is working during the night and has constructed a purpose-built route so that aircraft are able to access the base, ensuring there is minimal disruption to one of the airport’s busiest areas.

The work was awarded to Morgan Sindall due to its place on the Q6 Framework. It is one of four contractors appointed to deliver a £1.5 billion programme of upgrades and improvements at Heathrow Airport by 2019.

Keith Cannin, managing director of aviation at Morgan Sindall, said: “The work is expected to be complete by the end of 2017 and follows the successful refurbishment and resurfacing of the airport’s Sierra Taxiway as part of a £16 million contract completed last year.”

First Minister gives new building boost for Wales

mr-carwyn-jonesThe First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones has set out his government’s five-year plan to deliver more jobs through a stronger economy while building a united and sustainable Wales.

The First Minister said the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government, Taking Wales Forward, makes clear that the government’s focus will be on driving improvement in the Welsh economy.

The First Minister also confirmed that the Welsh Government’s key pledges have been maintained despite the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote, including the commitment to create at least 100,000 all-age apprenticeships and the development of the South Wales Metro.

Mr Jones said: “Taking Wales Forward outlines our key priorities for delivering those improvements. They are ambitious measures, aimed at making a difference for everyone, at every stage in their lives.

Together we can build a Wales that is more confident, more equal, better skilled and more resilient. As a country we have punched above our weight, and now we are ready to do more.

I want to see a Wales which is prosperous and secure, healthy and active, ambitious and learning, united and connected. This is the Wales we are determined to build over the coming five years.”

Housing boost for the Islands

Help to Buy scheme boosts house buildingUp to 100 affordable homes will be built in island communities through a new £5 million fund.

Speaking during a Scottish Parliament debate Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced the Scottish Government will establish a new Islands Housing Fund – backed by up to £5 million funding over three years – to increase the availability of affordable housing in the islands.

This investment is in addition to the £25 million Rural Housing Fund which is supporting the building of new homes and refurbishment of existing properties in rural areas.

Mr Stewart said:“Scotland’s islands have rich and vibrant cultures and make a huge contribution to Scottish life but we know people living there can face challenges when it comes to accessing the home they want.

Our new £5 million Islands Housing Fund will increase the supply of good quality affordable housing which is an essential part of attracting and retaining people in our islands.

Investment in this support for the islands and through the Rural Housing Fund will help us deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament and ensure we are reaching across all of Scotland in our ambitions.

“Our Islands Housing Fund demonstrates our strong and continued support for our islands, with the forthcoming Islands Bill set to provide lasting benefits for these communities for generations to come.”

Go-ahead to £300m Chester Northgate development

go-ahead-to-300m-chester-northgate-developmentCheshire West and Chester Council unanimously accepted plans to develop the Northgate area of the city centre for a retail-led, mixed-use development that will boost economic growth.

The £300 million Chester Northgate scheme is set to deliver around 500,000 sqft of new retail, restaurant and leisure facilities over two phases of construction.

The first Phase will start in autumn 2017. Picturehouse will be the operators of a six-screen cinema providing more than 715 seats, on the upper levels of the scheme, with a ground-level foyer and café bar opening onto the new Market Square and Hunter Street.

A new market hall will replace the current Chester Market and a new, 167-bedroom, 4-star hotel and conference centre will be built as a replacement for the existing Crowne Plaza hotel.

Councillor Brian Clarke, Cabinet Member, Economic Development and Infrastructure said: “The development of Northgate has been a long held ambition.

When it became clear that the private sector was not going to deliver what the city needed, the Council took control with the view to progressing proposals to a stage where the private sector is willing to invest.  Obtaining planning consent is a major component.

This proposal delivers a new development that will feel like Chester and not just like any other city.”

Councillor Stuart Parker, Shadow Cabinet Member, Communities and Wellbeing added: “Northgate is the most significant regeneration opportunity to impact on Chester in many decades.

It will transform the city from its present state of retail and leisure decline. Granting consent today will send a powerful message that Chester is open for business in a truly spectacular style.”

In December 2013 the Council purchased the Forum Shopping Centre and now owns around 85 per cent of the 5.8-hectare site. Rivington Land is the development managers overseeing the development.

David Lewis, Chief Executive of Rivington Land, said: “Obtaining this resolution to grant planning consent for Chester Northgate is a massive achievement on the path to delivery of this significant scheme.

In combination with the level of occupier demand we are witnessing and the recent exchange of contacts with Picturehouse, this consent represents real progress and a major corner piece of the overall jigsaw.

The application on such a sensitive site was very complex and this decision is a huge compliment to the talented design team involved.”

It is anticipated that the whole development will be completed and opened during 2021.

Construction set to begin on The Mill

construction-set-to-begin-on-the-millThe Mill – an 800 home urban village complete with a neighbourhood centre, community hall, and parks – is being developed by Tirion Homes on the site of the former Arjo Wiggins Paper Mill site in Canton.

The construction programme is expected to create over 1,000 jobs, many for people living locally.

The site remediation has been carried out by Alun Griffiths. The construction of the new homes will be undertaken by Lovell.

The Group is currently working on two other sites in the region; the 500-home Whiteheads development in Newport, and the planned 225-home Parc Eirin site in Tonyrefail.

Peter Mathias, chairman of Tirion Group, says: “The Mill is a ground-breaking development that will not only transform the local community around it, but hopefully become a blueprint for high-quality housing communities across South Wales.

As we prepare for the start of construction it is an honour to host AMs, MPs and councillors, and to be able to outline our vision for the site and our future vision for housing developments across Wales.”

At The Mill, Tirion has unlocked the potential of the long-disused paper mill site by acquiring and cleaning up the brownfield land with financial backing from the Welsh Government and Principality, securing planning permission and then developing the site in partnership with Lovell.

Lovell regional director Kate Rees says: “We are delighted to be working with the Tirion Group, Cadwyn Housing Association, the Welsh Government and Principality to deliver this landmark housing scheme for Cardiff and look forward to starting construction of these new high-quality homes for sale and for rent.

The Mill will create a brand-new community in an extremely desirable riverside location close to the city centre.”

Peter Hughes, managing director at Principality Commercial, said: “Supporting this development goes to the heart of our purpose in helping people access quality affordable housing in an attractive environment, with excellent links to the city centre.

In recent years we have invested heavily in local communities through a variety of both commercial and residential projects. The Mill project will hopefully pave the way for similar schemes across Wales.”

 

Apache in joint venture with Moda Living

apache-in-joint-venture-with-moda-livingApache Capital Partners has announced a joint venture with Moda Living to plan and build projects of approximately 5,000 homes and a gross development value of £1 billion.

This strategic joint venture makes Apache Capital the long term funding partner of Moda Living. The partnership is expected to create the largest owner of regional purpose-built PRS and one of the largest owners of PRS overall in the UK.

The portfolio concentrates on regional centres where population growth and an undersupply of residential accommodation looks set to trigger rental and capital growth over the next few years.

A focus on prime locations attracting the ideal tenant profile for PRS developments; 20-44 year olds with disposable income who demand locations and buildings that come with high quality services and amenities.

Richard Jackson, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Apache Capital Partners, said: “We at Apache Capital have seen a strong demand from our Middle Eastern investors in the UK’s Private Rented Sector.

This is partly because PRS is already an established sector in the region, the sector’s continuing supply/demand imbalance in the UK, but also coupled with the prevailing lifestyle shift toward flexible living that delivers high quality amenities and services.

“The 5,000 unit secured portfolio provides us immediate scale and Apache Capital and Moda Living will currently be the largest owner of regional purpose-built PRS and the second largest owner overall in the UK.

“This strategy builds on the success of Apache Capital’s Social Infrastructure investment platform, where we have aggregated an institutional grade portfolio of assets in the student accommodation and healthcare sectors.”

Employment reaches a record high

employment-reaches-a-record-highThe number of people in work is at a record high with nearly 175,000 more people in work up to July 2016, compared to the previous 3 months.

The Office for National Statistics confirmed today that there are 31.77 million people now in work – up by more than 550,000 in the past year and by 2.7 million since 2010.

The employment rate in the UK continues to run at a record high of 74.5%, and the unemployment rate holds firm at 4.9% – its lowest in more than 10 years.

The rise in employment continues to be driven by full-time work, which has accounted for 75% of the growth since 2010. Average wages including bonuses grew by 2.3% over the last year.

Work and Pensions Secretary of State, Damian Green, said: “It’s great to see another record-breaking set of figures out this month with the unemployment rate at a 10-year low and wages growing healthily.

We know that there are fewer children living in workless households too, which underlines our efforts to help people move into employment and to build a Britain that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

But there’s more to do, and we will continue to work with businesses to help more people take up the wealth of opportunities out there in the economy.”

Morgan Sindall to build £10.3m Bromsgrove leisure centre

morgan-sindall-to-build-10-3m-leisure-centreBromsgrove District Council has appointed Morgan Sindall to build a £10.3 million state-of-the-art leisure centre, which will include two swimming pools.

Plans for the development, on School Drive, will see the installation of a climbing wall, a 100-station fitness suite and a 25-station group cycling studio across a two-storey building.

The larger swimming pool will measure 25 x 12.5 metres and alongside it will be a learner pool measuring 15 x 10 metres which will feature an adjustable floor.

Work is scheduled to begin this year and the new centre is expected to be open by the end of 2017.

Morgan Sindall area director, Richard Fielding, said: “We’re pleased to be involved in this project and confident that the finished facility will be well received by the local community.

Once complete it will provide the people of Bromsgrove with a modern environment in which to exercise and prove an enduring addition to the leisure offering in the area.”

The centre will be self-funding, unlike the current Dolphin Centre which runs at a heavy annual loss, and the process of selecting a day-to-day operator to run it will shortly take place.

The leisure centre is the latest redevelopment in Bromsgrove under a strategic Town Centre regeneration partnership of public bodies that was formed in 2010 to redevelop areas of the town, making major efficiency savings across the public purse.

This has led to the total revamp of the high street, major retail developments coming forward across the town and a near-total overhaul of public buildings.

Kier launches new housing venture in the North

Kier LivingKier Living has launched a new venture designed to build a thousand of homes per annum within 3 years by creating long-term housing delivery partnerships in the north of England.

The first partnership to be confirmed is between Kier and leading northern HA Together Housing Group (THG); a JV relationship which will develop mixed tenure housing projects across Yorkshire, Humber and the North West, with the first new development site, for 113 properties for outright sale in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

The Northern Ventures model offers a full mixed tenure development partnership, enabling registered providers with development aspirations and revenue needs to share activity, transfer risk and tap into Kier’s mixed tenure development expertise, national presence and sales infrastructure.

Unlike other partnerships, this JV is for multiple sites rather than a single-site partnership, meaning the JV can work together more collaboratively, harnessing regional expertise, investment momentum and innovation and developing a range of potential sites.

Kier Living has put in place a specialist Northern Ventures senior team, as it is expected that this approach will appeal to a wide range of land owners, from private land owners where a high output of affordable housing is required to achieve planning, through to public sector land owners who want to meet mixed tenure housing targets.

Paul Moore, managing director of Kier Living North said: “We are looking at a joint venture model that provides a longer-term sustainable relationship with a 3 -5 year business plan, giving both partners diverse and sustainable benefits.

“By working together, we can look at larger scale opportunities that are not only attractive financially for both parties, but contribute extra mixed tenure new homes to meet the current UK shortage.

With Government focus on home ownership, the joint venture gives our partners opportunities to build housing stock of all tenures, as well as generating a commercial return on their investment that can be re-invested in the sector.”

Mark Dunford, finance director of Together Housing Group added: “THG is excited to enter into this partnership with Kier Living to ensure we continue to meet the aspirations of both the Government and our own growth strategy.

With focus now on home ownership, we needed to work closely with an experienced developer not only to share the risk and reward but also to learn from their experience and knowledge.

“The intention is to build 500 new properties per year and establish site specific limited liability partnership for each scheme. Any profit returned to the Group will be used to fund our affordable housing programme.”