Lovell starts £7.1m Essex housing scheme

Lovell wins £7.1m Essex housing schemeUttlesford District Council has chosen partnership housing specialist Lovell to undertake a £7.1 million redevelopment programme for an Essex sheltered housing scheme.

A ground-breaking ceremony has officially marked the start of construction on the project which will transform Reynolds Court in Newport, near Saffron Walden, into a purpose-built modern complex.

The existing sheltered housing is being replaced with 41 brand-new apartments for affordable rent – made up of 34 one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom homes – as well as new communal facilities including a communal lounge and a garden room, hair and beauty salon and a guest suite.

The first phase of demolition and site clearance has already been carried out. The demolition programme is being undertaken in two stages enabling existing tenants to stay at the sheltered housing scheme while it is being rebuilt.

The new complex is designed to achieve a ‘Very Good’ rating when assessed using the BREEAM system for measuring buildings’ sustainability. Energy-saving and environmentally-friendly features include underfloor heating and a sedum green ‘living roof’ which reduces rainwater runoff and provides a habitat for wildlife.

Lovell regional director Simon Medler says: “We are extremely pleased to have started work on these high-quality and modern homes and modern communal facilities for Reynolds Court.

Our team has extensive experience of delivering sheltered housing to an extremely high standard and are excited to be working on this scheme which will bring about real improvements for local residents.”

London Mayor to speed up housebuilding

Docklands deal will deliver 3,500 new London homesSadiq Khan has released the first details of his plans to set up a powerful ‘Homes for Londoners’ team at City Hall to oversee homebuilding in the capital and boost the delivery of new homes.

The Mayor of London has begun work to pull together and bolster housing and development capacity at City Hall and across the GLA family.

As a first step, he has begun recruiting new experts to scrutinise ‘viability assessments’ – the financial details that lie behind how much affordable housing new developments include.

The experts, who will be drawn from finance surveyors and property consultant experts and be based at City Hall, will support housing delivery by making planning decisions faster and more consistent, and by ensuring new developments include the maximum amount of affordable housing.

Sadiq will also lead a new ‘Homes for Londoners’ board, formed of London Boroughs, housing associations, and developers.

The board will oversee delivery, land assembly and investment decisions, and will draw on expertise from across the housing and property sectors to help develop new policy for the capital.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Homeownership has been slipping increasingly out of reach for more and more Londoners, and rents have been getting harder and harder to afford. I want to be honest with Londoners from the start that it will take time to turn things around – we’re starting from a position where last year the previous Mayor built the lowest number of affordable homes since records began.

I am determined that Londoners get the same opportunities this great city gave me. That is why I am setting up my Homes for Londoners team to speed up homebuilding and to move towards 50 per cent of new homes in London being genuinely affordable to rent and buy.”

A review of capacity and skills across the GLA will now get underway. Its aim is to ensure the ‘Homes for Londoners’ team can play a more active role in the delivery of housing, particularly in bringing forward public land in London, and speeding up the planning process. This may also lead to additional expertise and support being recruited into the team in due course.

David Montague, Chair of the g15, said: “The Mayor of London has made housing a priority from day one, and we have been working with James Murray on a new strategic housing partnership.

“Homes for Londoners will bring together the GLA, housing associations, local authorities and housebuilders to tackle the capital’s housing crisis.

“The priority now must be to build a long-term pipeline of clean serviced and consented land.  With this we can guarantee apprenticeships, jobs, economic growth, thriving communities and affordable homes.  Without it, London will lose out in the competition for investment and growth.”

Kier secures £5bn hat-trick of major construction schemes

Kier 2Kier’s construction arm has confirmed it has secured places on a trio of major construction frameworks with a potential spend of £5bn that will create new jobs and boost the trades.

These include:

•    A place on the four-year £4bn Department of Health Procure22 framework as one of six principle supply chain partners which commences in October.  Kier Construction is a leading provider in the health sector having delivered over £170m of health projects over the last twelve months.

•    A place as one of five suppliers on two five-year construction frameworks worth up to £750m at Gatwick Airport. The frameworks cover building and civil engineering projects up to £10m as well as a smaller works framework for building projects up to £1.5m. The award reflects Kier’s increasing profile in the aviation sector with a place recently secured on the framework at Glasgow airport focused on infrastructure improvements.

•    A place on the two-year £500m University of Cambridge Framework to provide a range of facilities including laboratories, teaching and lecture spaces and sport facilities. This construction framework provides opportunity to build on our established working relationship with the University.

Kier Group chief executive, Haydn Mursell, said: “These awards demonstrate the breadth of our offering and the strength of our relationships with clients across a wide range of sectors, including healthcare, aviation and education.

Such awards, which account for approximately half of our UK regional building revenues, enable us to work closely with our clients to deliver on their long-term requirements and they further bolster our strong Construction order book.”

Mace to deliver world-class facility at UCLH

Mace to deliver world-class facility at UCLHUCLH has appointed Mace to deliver a new state-of-the-art centre for its internationally renowned services, further enhancing its status as world leading hospital and university campus in central London.

The new centre, which will be located on Huntley Street, has been co-designed with patients and staff and will bring together services currently provided at the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital (RNTNEH) and Eastman Dental Hospital (EDH), in addition to other UCLH services.

The building navigation has been planned so that the zones that reflect how patients are treated and there will be a floor specifically for the care and treatment of children.

Mace has worked on a number of complex healthcare projects in the capital including the East Wing cladding project and the Positron Emission Tomography Centre for Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, the refurbishment of Chelsea & Westminster Hospital as well as managing the redesign of UCLH’s A&E department.

Terry Spraggett, Director for Public Sector Construction at Mace, said: “I’m delighted that Mace has been appointed by UCLH as main contractor on this significant and complex hospital project, which is challenging both in terms of the construction and logistics of the site.

Mace has a strong track record of delivering complex healthcare projects across the UK to an exceptionally high quality.

We look forward to bringing our experience to this project and helping UCLH realise its vision to deliver better treatment and care for patients.”

Wates grabs Birmingham residential scheme

Wates grabs Birmingham residential schemeWates Construction has signed a £20.2 million contract to build Regal Ltd’s brand new Left Bank residential tower, broadening the contractor’s Birmingham-based project pipeline.

Work is expected to commence this month and will see Wates create a new 22-storey building, which will comprise 189 high-quality apartments, as well as ground floor retail space and public realm.

The appointment closely follows Wates’ selection to deliver Ardstone Capital’s new speculative Grade A office development at Phoenix House on Newhall Street where building work is expected to complete by the end of the year.

Designed by Glancy Nicholls Architects, the new 11,905 sq m Left Bank development on Broad Street is expected to reach completion by summer 2018.

The scheme adds to Wates’ portfolio of projects across Birmingham, which has recently included the development of Eastside City Park and the fit out of Gowling WLG’s new premises at Two Snowhill.

Phil Harrison, Managing Director, Wates Construction Midlands and North said: “The scale of investment that Birmingham is currently experiencing is an indicator of ever-growing developer confidence and it demonstrates the city’s integral contributions to the strength of both the regional and national economies.”

Morgan Sindall to restore Bleaton Hallet bridge

Morgan SindallMorgan Sindall has been appointed by Perth & Kinross Council to design and build a new road bridge over the Black Water with work expected to be completed before the end of this year.

The new £1 million bridge will be constructed using a single-span galvanised steel structure and has been designed to allow all road traffic to cross, with no weight restrictions.

The site team will be working around a four metre vertical face on the east embankment to construct new abutments, pouring 100 cubic metres of concrete.

The design also includes improvements to drainage to defend the bridge from severe weather damage in the future.

As with all of its projects, Morgan Sindall has taken steps to ensure that no damage is caused to the surrounding environment. Measures have been taken to ensure debris from the construction process does not fall into the Black Water and dry stone walling, due to be dismantled during the build, will be salvaged and reconstructed once the bridge is in place.

Morgan Sindall’s area director for infrastructure, Robert Ogg, said: “The C446 road provides a vital link between Alyth and the A93 to Glenshee and the local communities come to depend on the infrastructure network so heavily, often without noticing how vulnerable it can be.

“We are acutely aware of this reliance and are proud to be designing and building a new bridge to restore this critical access; our message to the many people who would usually use this route is that the end is in sight.”

Northern Powerhouse minister begins first tour since appointment

Northern Powerhouse minister begins first tour since appointmentAmbitious plans to build a Northern Powerhouse remain a key government priority, two of the key ministers tasked with driving forward the work confirmed this week.

Commercial Secretary to the Treasury Jim O’Neill and Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy, both proud Northerners, will lead the work across the whole of government to help make the north a powerhouse for the UK economy once again and build on the strong progress of the last two years.

The ministers’ comments come ahead of the first official tour by Mr Percy to the North since his appointment and today he will visit Hull, Manchester and Liverpool to hear for himself how devolving greater power from Whitehall to Town Halls and greater investment is already leading to the creation of jobs and stronger economic growth.

Key achievements for the Northern Powerhouse to date include:

  • five historic devolution deals have been agreed across the Northern Powerhouse – in Sheffield, Greater Manchester, North-East, Tees Valley and Liverpool
  • 55% of the population of the Northern Powerhouse will vote in an elected Mayor next year, giving each area a powerful new voice in national life
  • major investment in transport has been committed including a new rail franchise on the Northern network delivering 2,000 extra services each week, £200 million for Transport for the North and a £60 million package for exploring work on HS3
  • attracting foreign investment – there has been 127% growth in the number of foreign direct investment projects in the Northern Powerhouse over the last two years with the North-West outperforming every other region in the UK
  • the employment rate in the Northern Powerhouse is close to its record high, and since June 2014 unemployment has fallen faster in the North than in the South

Commercial Secretary to the Treasury Jim O’Neill said: “Making our great northern towns and cities a powerhouse for the economy once again is the reason I joined government, and there is evidence everywhere you look that our plans have already made a real impact.

It is fantastic to be able to continue to champion the Northern Powerhouse within the very heart of government and there will be no let-up in our commitment to fuel the local economy through encouraging foreign investment, improving transport and creating new jobs.”

Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy said: “Building the Northern Powerhouse is a long-term government priority and central to our plans to rebalance the economy.

As a proud Northerner, I am determined to ensure that people in every part of the North – from large cities to small rural communities – enjoy greater control over their lives and stronger, more sustainable economic growth.

That’s why this government will continue to support major investments to unlock the potential of the North and ensure that every area benefits from a growing economy.”

Morgan Sindall gets place on National Grid’s framework

Morgan SindallMorgan Sindall has secured £800 million contract on National Grid’s onshore electricity cable framework that will continue over four years.

The framework is effective from June 2016 and will involve the design, construction and commissioning of 11kV to 400kV cable systems across National Grid’s network.

Morgan Sindall is one of four companies to have been appointed to the Engineer, Procure and Construct (EPC) framework.

Projects awarded under the framework will typically vary in value from between £2 million and £50 million.

Simon Smith, managing director of Utility Services at Morgan Sindall, said: “We are delighted to have secured a position on this framework.

Morgan Sindall has been working in the electricity transmission market for a number of years and this opportunity further enhances our growing capability with National Grid and in this specialist sector.”

Faster planning helps the building trades

Regeneration scheme to deliver thousands of new properties and jobsThe average time for a planning decision to be made on major developments has fallen by 17% on the previous year, paving the way for the building trades.

Annual statistics published this week show decision times for local and major applications have reduced, meaning more housing and business developments can start to build sooner.

Planning Minister Kevin Stewart welcomed the statistics, but said more must be done to improve planning performance.

The average decision time for major developments in 2015-16 reduced by more than 6 weeks on the previous year, while major housing development decisions are now almost two weeks faster than in 2013-14.

Decisions made on local housing applications also reduced by almost a week compared to the previous year.

Mr Stewart said:“Effective planning is crucial to promoting sustainable economic growth and ultimately to helping build more homes. Speeding up the planning system is a vital part of this.

“These statistics are very encouraging, particularly at a time where we are looking at the best ways to reform and improve our planning system.

“The reduction in decision making timescales can only be a good thing – it means we are open for business and helping create certainty within the building sector.”

Morgan Sindall breaks ground on £13m project

Morgan Sindall breaks ground on £13m building projectMorgan Sindall has started work on the £13 million transformation of South Shore Academy on St Anne’s Road, Blackpool.

The start of work on site was marked in traditional fashion with a turf cutting ceremony last week, paving the way for construction work to get underway.

South Shore Academy is one of 12 schools being rebuilt by Morgan Sindall under the Education Funding Agency’s (EFA) Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) North West Batch.

Plans for the school will see two new buildings constructed – a three storey main building and a single storey sports hall – with a combined floor area of almost 5,000m².

The main building will house 25 classrooms across three storeys. General classrooms will be situated on the first floor, with art rooms and state-of-the-art science labs on the second floor.

Building work is due to be completed in time for the start of the academic school year in September 2017. The finished school will provide up to 900 pupils from the local area with a modern education facility, fit for 21st century learning.

Morgan Sindall’s area director, Barry Roberts, said: “We’re proud to be delivering another school as part of the PSBP NW programme. Once complete, the new look South Shore Academy will provide pupils and staff with a modern learning environment and will be an enduring addition to the educational offering in the area.

As with all of our construction work, we set out to not only cause minimal disruption to school life, but also to complement the teaching on offer by providing access to work placements and careers advice for pupils interested in the construction industry.”