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.”

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.

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.”

Funding boost for low carbon schemes

The Scottish GovernmentBidders hoping to share a £8 million European Regional Development fund (ERDF) have been given a boost thanks to Transport Scotland.

Thirty nine projects will benefit from support of up to £10k each, enabling them to develop ideas in preparation for launch of the ERDF Low Carbon Travel and Transport (LCTT) challenge fund later this year.

Many of the bids aim to deliver local regeneration and economic development benefits, while boosting growth and creating new jobs.

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands said: “We need to maximise this ERDF investment to support our low carbon travel and transport aspirations by establishing a strong network of these across Scotland by December 2018.

The Pre-Application Support Fund received a high-level of interest and I’m delighted that funding is being offered to a wide range of public sector bodies, as well as a number of community and third sector organisations to help them develop their ideas.

The quality of the applications received is pleasing and I hope that many of these will be developed to form strong bids for the full ERDF challenge fund, once this launches later in the year.”

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.

Willmott Dixon to deliver grade A office scheme in Birmingham

willmott-dixon-to-deliver-grade-a-office-scheme-in-birminghamThe significant refurbishment of one of Birmingham’s most well-known buildings has taken a step forward with the appointment of Willmott Dixon as contractor.

Legal & General Property (LGP) which owns the Lewis Building on Bull Street has appointed the construction and regeneration specialist to carry out the comprehensive refurbishment.

When completed, the Lewis Building will offer 114,000 sq ft of contemporary Grade A office space set behind a classic Portland Stone façade.

The £18 million contract will see Willmott Dixon strip back the interior of the building to shell and core, remodeling the building to provide floorplates of 17,000 sq ft – some of the largest in the city’s business district – along with a new 12,000 sq ft, fully glazed seventh story with roof terraces.

All floors will receive high quality finishes throughout and the building will benefit from new mechanical and electrical systems.

The company is also building the National College for High Speed Rail in Duddeston to train HS2 engineers and transforming the Millennium Quarter with another project for Birmingham City University, this time expanding the Curzon building.

Tom Williams, Senior Asset Manager, Legal & General Property, said: “The Lewis Building represents a fantastic opportunity for Birmingham’s commercial market and we have already seen considerable interest from some of the larger requirements currently looking to identify space.”

Formerly known as Temple Court, the Lewis Building was originally built as a department store in the 1920s by renowned 19th Century philanthropist, David Lewis and has been an integral part of Birmingham’s city core for almost 100 years.

Willmott Dixon’s managing director in the Midlands, Peter Owen: “We are hugely proud of our role in creating Birmingham’s exciting new future with these projects, and are excited to be creating superb Grade A offices in the heart of the city’s business district.“

Cheltenham office scheme to create new jobs

Cheltenham office plan to create new jobsA £15 million office development set to bring up to 500 jobs to Cheltenham has been submitted for planning.

Property investor Formal Investments wants to create more than 80,000 square feet of prime offices as the new HQ for a major international business keen to relocate to the town.

Honeybourne Place has been pre-let to the global company and, subject to the plans receiving permission, construction could begin in 2017 with the occupier moving to Cheltenham in 2019.

Previous plans for Honeybourne Place, at Jessop Avenue, have been revised in this new application because the occupier wants more office space than originally envisaged.

The desired office space has been boosted by more than 20 per cent by removing other elements, including residential units. A detailed planning application has this week been made to Cheltenham Borough Council for the high quality six-storey landmark building.

Nicholas King, a director at Formal Investments, said: “The striking landmark building will help deliver economic growth and bring further major inward investment in a location that has cemented itself as a key business district for Cheltenham.”

Jeremy Williamson, managing director of Cheltenham Development Taskforce, said: “It is always pleasing to bring forward a brown field site, but even more so when it has such job creation potential and is promoted by local investors such as Formal Investments.”

Steve Jordan, Cheltenham Borough Council leader, said: “Securing this investment in the centre of Cheltenham is a real coup, given the high value jobs that it will generate.”

Michael Ratcliffe, chief executive of Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are delighted at the investment in town centre office accommodation, as employment is the lifeblood of the economy.”