Wates starts work on Hoxton towers

wates-starts-work-on-hoxton-towersWates Construction has signed a £70.9 million contract to build Anthology’s new Hoxton Press residential development.

The Hackney project will see Wates create two towers of 20 and 16 storeys, comprising 198 one and two-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom penthouses for private sale.

Designed by Karakusevic Carson Architects and David Chipperfield Architects, the new development will include a single storey basement car park, ancillary services and a ground-floor café in one of the towers.

The new development, which will overlook Shoreditch Park and Regents Canal, forms part of the ongoing regeneration of Hackney Council’s Colville Estate in Hoxton, which will also help fund investment in new council homes for social rent and shared ownership.

Building work has now commenced at Anthology Hoxton Press and completion of the two towers, Mono and Duo, is expected by summer 2018.

David Newey, Project Director for Anthology Hoxton Press said: “We are thrilled to be working in collaboration with Wates on the exciting regeneration of the Colville Estate. At Anthology, we put community into the heart of everything we do and with Wates’ support at Hoxton Press, we will be providing a community café for all local residents to enjoy.

Hoxton is cemented as a key London destination for buyers, renters and tourists alike. By working with Wates, we are able to bring our vision to life with a development that sits in the heart of Hackney and has good travel connections, markets, shops and design studios just a stone’s throw away. Anthology will continue to work closely with Wates to deliver homes that provide the community with a location for creativity to flourish.”

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.”

Loans to help make warmer homes

£1.9bn net benefit to improve energy efficiencyNew £10 million pilot scheme has been announced which will increase energy efficiency and help repair homes across Scotland.

More people will be able to make their homes warm and water-tight through a new £10 million fund that will also boost the building trades.

The pilot scheme in Glasgow, Argyll and Bute and Perthshire will provide equity loans of up to £40,000 to home owners on low incomes to help them make essential repairs to leaking roofs and building structures.

The funding can be used either as a single equity loan or with other existing Scottish Government grants to fund more expensive measures like solid wall insulation or a package of energy efficiency works.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced the pilot ahead of his attendance at the launch of Under One Roof. The new website will provide free and impartial advice to private flat owners and help them understand their obligations when it comes to property and shared spaces.

He said: “Making sure everyone has access to a warm and affordable home is a priority for this Government which is why we have committed half a billion pounds over the next four years, meaning over £1 billion by 2021, to tackling fuel poverty and improving energy efficiency.

We know leaking roofs and poor building structures can drive up energy bills and make them more difficult to heat, but for low income households they can often be too costly to repair.

This £10 million scheme will provide households with loans to carry out essential repair work and install energy efficiency improvements.

This will help us make homes warmer and easier to heat, with our record investment already resulting in two fifths of Scottish homes now being in the top three energy efficiency ratings – an increase of 71% since 2010.”

Mary Taylor, Chief Executive of SFHA, said: “We welcome the announcement of the equity loan scheme. It is extremely important that we invest in the energy efficiency of existing homes to provide affordable warmth and reduce carbon emissions. It is also important that we invest in existing buildings and keep them in a good state of repair.”

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.

More affordable housing approved

House building starts hit 7-year highThe number of affordable homes in Scotland has increased by 26% on the previous year, bringing the total number of approvals over the year to 8,067.

Official statistics published this week show that during 2015-16, the number of new house builds started, across the public and private sector, rose to 16,910, a 4% increase on the previous year and the highest number of starts since 2008-9.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said the figures showed good early progress towards delivering the Scottish Government’s ambitious target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years.

Speaking ahead of a visit to a new housing development in Edinburgh which will provide 236 affordable homes in the city, Mr Stewart said: “We have an excellent track record on housing. The number of affordable home completions from April 2007 to end March 2016 was 60,704 – on average 24% more per year than the 38,015 delivered between April 2000 and March 2007.

“In the previous session of Parliament, we exceeded our target of delivering 30,000 affordable homes, and our bold and ambitious More Homes Scotland approach will build on that achievement.

“We have committed to investing over £3 billion to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years. This is accompanied by increased housing subsidy levels and a new Rural Housing Fund to boost the supply of affordable rural housing.

“We’ve also helped stimulate growing confidence in the private housing market and supported people into home ownership, in particular through our £500 million Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme.”

Birmingham unveils £1bn investment plans for growth and jobs

birmingham-unveils-1bn-investment-plans-for-growthAlmost £1 billion of investment is being committed to redevelop a part of Birmingham that will pave the way for thousands of new jobs and homes.

The Curzon Investment Plan is an ambitious 30-year strategy to unlock and regenerate the 141 hectares of land around the planned HS2 Curzon Street Station, led by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP (GBSLEP) and Birmingham City Council.

Creating 36,000 jobs, 4,000 new homes, unlocking 600,000 sqm of commercial floor space and connecting the eastside of Birmingham to the rest of the city and beyond; the investment is the first major financial commitment by any local area in the country to use HS2’s arrival as a catalyst for regeneration. It also has the potential to add £1.4 billion to the local economy.

Plans include the development of Curzon Street Station itself, several new neighbourhoods, offices and retail spaces. The creation of stunning public places such as the Curzon Promenade and Curzon Square – which will incorporate the original Curzon Station, a Grade I listed building.

In total £907 million is being allocated to a variety of projects, and is made up of £586.8 million from the GBSLEP, which draws funds from business rates within the Enterprise Zone and £137.2 million from the newly formed devolved government, West Midlands Combined Authority.

A further £183.3 million towards the cost of delivering Metro extension projects, connecting the eastside of the city to central Birmingham and out to Birmingham International Airport and Solihull, where another HS2 station, an interchange, is planned.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I’m delighted that Greater Birmingham is making this investment in the future, working to maximise the potential of HS2 by investing in jobs and housing – and encouraging more business investment.

It was in Birmingham where I outlined my plan to build an economy that works for all, with a proper industrial strategy that delivers prosperity, job creation and higher wages across the country, not just in London.”

Steve Hollis, Deputy Chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP (GBSLEP), said: “The Curzon Investment Plan is the first major commitment by a local area to maximise the impact of HS2.

It outlines how we will use HS2 as a trigger to transform an area of untapped potential in Birmingham’s city core and create thousands of new jobs, homes and places for businesses to thrive.

This demonstrates clearly what we can achieve in this region by being given the right tools by central government, to unlock our own future economic success.

Our commitment to invest is a bold statement of intent for how we will utilise HS2 as a catalyst for growth at every step. By setting out our plans and investing now, we will begin to realise the economic benefits of HS2 far sooner.”

Councillor John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “It is an unprecedented time for Birmingham and the wider region. By working with partners from across the region, we have fuelled an economic renaissance with significant inward investment and the implementation of major infrastructure schemes.”

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.”