£47m plans approved to build new homes

£47m plans approved to build new homesPlans for building a £47 million Woodford Grange housing development in Winsford have been given the go-ahead by Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Chosen developer, Keepmoat, will deliver 401 new homes on the 30 acre brownfield site off Woodford Lane West, where home hunters and first-time buyers will now have access to a collection of two, three and four bedroom properties under the government-backed Help to Buy scheme.

There will be 130 affordable properties built on behalf of the Council within the development; these are understood to be the first local authority houses built within the Borough for nearly 40 years.

A green corridor and a small central village garden will be created at the heart of the development. In addition significant investment will be made in outdoor play facilities at Hebden Green and Oakland schools and a state of the art 3G pitch at Winsford Academy.

Prior to submitting plans, Keepmoat hosted a public consultation event at Hebden Green Community School to hear any concerns and include local input.

Gareth Roberts, regional managing director for Keepmoat in the North West, said: “Working in partnership with the Council, we have identified key ways to regenerate a surplus piece of land and really invest in Winsford while creating housing solutions – particularly for first-time buyers.

This major new scheme will also create new job opportunities, which supports the Council’s aspirations for Winsford.  We’re delighted that this shared vision for Woodford Grange has been given the go ahead and we look forward to getting on site.”

Councillor Angela Claydon, Cheshire West and Chester Council Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This is really good news for Winsford. The partnership will provide a true mix of properties including 130 homes built for the Council which will give people a real choice from a range of new build homes”

Willmott Dixon lands £31m BCU contract

Willmott Dixon lands £31m BCU contractBirmingham City University’s transformation of the city’s Millennium Quarter is taking another huge step forward with Willmott Dixon appointed for a £31 million building project.

Curzon B is designed by Birmingham-based firm Associated Architects and follows Willmott Dixon’s completion of the £63 million Curzon Building in September last year, which is now a major landmark for hundreds of thousands of people arriving at Birmingham New Street by train.

The new Curzon B extension will house over 3,000 students and members of staff and feature more than 650-rooms, a Student Hub, lecture theatre and mock courtrooms.

It brings the value of work Willmott Dixon has completed for Birmingham City University (BCU) at its new Eastside campus to nearly £150 million, with the company also behind the Parkside Building, adjacent to Curzon.

It’s transformed this part of Birmingham into a thriving part of the city that’s home to thousands of students after the university transferred much of its campus to Eastside from Perry Bar.

Peter Owen, managing director for Willmott Dixon’s Midlands business: “We are delighted to be back working with BCU given our close relationship with the university since 2011 where we’ve helped give them a new central city campus that provides some of the best learning facilities in the country. This latest project really does make Birmingham the university capital of England.”

Mayor opens London’s first super sewer

Mayor opens London's first super sewerThe Mayor of London Boris Johnson has officially opened the Lee Tunnel, the first of two super sewers which will dramatically improve the health and cleanliness of the Rivers Lee and Thames in the capital.

The Lee Tunnel is the largest single project in the history of the privatised water industry in England and Wales and is the deepest ever bored under the capital at around 75 metres deep.

It is the width of three double decker buses and is the most significant development of London’s Victorian sewers since Sir Joseph Bazalgette originally built the network in the 1860s.

The five associated shafts are the deepest constructed in the London Basin. The project also includes 6 mega pumps of 3MW each. At its peak, MVB employed 750 people at the same time on this project.

The Mayor Boris Johnson, in partnership with Thames Water, the Environment Agency and London Councils recently launched the first London Sustainable Drainage Action Plan, identifying potential flooding hotspots across the city and proposing innovative ways of diverting rain back from the sewers into the soil with rain gardens or green roofs.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson MP said: “This amazing new super sewer is providing the bold infrastructure needed to support the movements of our rapidly growing city. For years our historic Victorian systems have heaved at the seams, muddling along, battling to cope with the increasing rainfall and waste of a modern population.

Now the River Thames will benefit from vast improvements to its water quality with less pollution and overflow. Alongside my sustainable drainage work to reduce flooding, the investment in the Lee and the forthcoming Thames Tideway Tunnel are set to benefit Londoners for generations to come.”

Thames Water chief executive Martin Baggs said: “We are honoured that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was here to celebrate the opening of the ground-breaking Lee Tunnel, which is a crucial part of our ongoing work to clean up the River Thames.”

Kier gets go-ahead for £79m Cambridge Uni lab

Kier gets go-ahead for £79m Cambridge Uni labThe University of Cambridge has been given the go-ahead for ‘Project Capella’ – a new £79 million research facility that will be delivered by Kier and designed by The Fairhursts Design Group.

The six-storey 18,000sq m centre will be located adjacent to the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute within the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, and will provide state-of-the-art research laboratories in a collaborative environment to stimulate the exchange of ideas.

The facility, which aims to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating, incorporates a variety of laboratory spaces alongside office and meeting suites, all set within a collaborative working environment.

Externally the building features a two-storey glazed box with gold metal detailing and double height entrance foyer, while the spine is to be clad in a flat-faced graphite panel.

Kier project lead, Shak Chowdhury, said: “This open and transparent approach has enabled an £79m complex research facility to progress from having no design to being on site in just 12 months.”

A variety of materials have been selected to define specific elements of the structure and to avoid the blank façades that a building of this scale can create.

Mark Adey, director at The Fairhursts Design Group, said: “The proposed building will provide a cutting edge facility appropriate for the complex research currently being carried out in isolated, outdated facilities across Cambridge.

Our design uses forms and materials that respect the existing built environment, and will further enhance the Cambridge Biomedical Campus through associated realm and landscaping in accordance with the ethos of development including the 2020 vision.”

ISG set for a £10m school revamp

ISG set for a £10m school revampISG has been awarded a £10 million project to transform a disused leisure centre into a new free school in East Leeds as part of the EFA Framework.

The former East Leeds Leisure Centre site will become the new permanent home for the Temple Learning Academy.

ISG has already carried out a refurbishment project to convert offices adjoining the leisure centre into classroom accommodation, including provision of a new dining hall and toilets, as well as construction of a new external play area.

This is now fully operational for the school’s first intake of reception aged children, and planning has now been secured for the main school building.

Work on refurbishing and extending the existing leisure centre will begin in February 2016.

The scheme also sees ISG build a new three-storey steel frame extension with ribbon glazing and metal cladding elevations, which will be primarily used by older students.

The project also sees the construction of a new MUGA pitch and significant hard and soft landscaping with new paths and play areas, a car park for 90 cars and designated drop off areas.

Danny Murray, ISG’s Northern regional managing director, said: “For this scheme, we’ve worked closely with the EFA and the Academy to best utilise the existing structures on site to create real efficiencies in the construction programme, without compromising on the quality and flexibility of teaching space.

The transformation of this underused site is set to create a long-lasting and highly positive community legacy, providing greater choice and a much needed boost to school places in East Leeds.”

Morgan Sindall tops out £10m Norwich student accommodation scheme

Morgan Sindall tops out £10m Norwich student accommodation schemeMorgan Sindall has marked a key stage in the construction of a landmark student accommodation development, Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) Halls – All Saints Green, with a traditional topping out ceremony.

The scheme is set to achieve a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) rating of Very Good, with aspirations for Excellent, and is due to complete in summer 2015.

The project team includes project managers DBK Group, architect Carson & Partners, structural engineer Conisbee, services engineer Silock Dawson & Partners, and CDM Co-ordinator Trevor Christmas.

The event, which was held on the ninth floor of the building on Thursday 30 April, heralded the start of the final stage of work on the £10 million design and build project that Morgan Sindall is delivering for Alumno Developments.

The scheme involves the construction of a new nine-storey building next to Norwich bus station. The project also comprises the refurbishment and renovation of the adjacent building, 50 All Saints Green, which is Grade II listed.

David Campbell, managing director of Alumno Developments, said: “Alumno is delighted to be working in partnership with Norwich University of the Arts and Morgan Sindall, in delivering this significant and major new development in the city.”

Gavin Napper, Morgan Sindall area director, said: “It’s great to be joining Alumno, our guests and our project team to mark this key milestone in the construction of this significant development.

There is a pressing need for quality student accommodation in Norwich and this is a well thought out scheme which will revitalise the surrounding area and help to address this need. We look forward to delivering a great building in time for the start of the academic year.”

British Land bags £50m refurbishment contract

British Land gets £50m refurbishment contractBritish Land has announced that Meadowhall, Yorkshire’s premier shopping destination, will be marking a substantial £50 million internal refurbishment that will help economic growth.

The refurbishment is set to commence in autumn 2015 and will be completed by the end of 2017.

The extensive works will create distinct districts within the centre, each with a different finish including wood and punctured metal.

The works will also enable a number of retailers to install double height shop fronts.

The refurbishment includes new way finding, mall seating and lighting as well as the installation of dramatic lighting artwork.

The works will largely be completed out of hours to enable all retail and leisure operators to trade throughout the period.

The refurbishment will help reposition Meadowhall ensuring it remains a modern shopping environment which is locally preferred by both retailers and consumers.

Claire Barber, Head of Shopping Centre Asset Management for British Land, said: “Across the retail portfolio, we are investing in our assets to ensure they reflect the way people shop today.

The refurbishment of Meadowhall will reposition the centre to appeal to premium and lifestyle retailers as well as a broader range of customers. We are very excited about the future for Meadowhall and the experience this investment will create for both our customers and retailers.”

Major school rebuild gets underway

Major school rebuild gets underwayConstruction work at Mesne Lea Primary School in Salford has started, paving the way for 39 more schools in the North West to be rebuilt under the government’s priority school building programme (PSBP).

The school is 1 of worth £2.4 billion, which will address the needs of 260 of the schools in England in the worst condition.

Thanks to the PSBP, pupils and teachers attending the school are set to benefit from a £3.9 million, fit-for-purpose rebuild that will improve the existing outdated facilities.

The new 2-storey primary school will include a large multi-purpose hall, and a shared teaching space between reception and nursery for combined groups.

Schools Minister David Laws said: “The start of construction work at Mesne Lea Primary School marks a key milestone for the priority school building programme in the North West and an exciting phase in the development of the school.

Delivering great new schools will help to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, so that every young person across the region can get on in life.

Vital building work is taking place at schools in the worst state across the country. We are making good progress with 16 school buildings now open – 55 are under construction and the remaining projects are well into the development or planning stages.”.

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

Help to boost small house builders

The Scottish GovernmentA £30 million scheme in Scotland will launch for people to buy new homes from small and medium sized house builders that will boost the construction sector.

The Scottish Government’s Help to Buy (Scotland) Small Developers scheme will spread support more widely across the housebuilding industry by helping buyers who want a new property built by one of around 170 smaller developers.

Under Help to Buy, the Scottish Government takes an equity stake of between 10% and 20% of the value of the property which can be repaid at any time.

4,100 homes have been bought through Help To Buy (Scotland) in the last 15 months. The additional £30 million in 2015-16, on top of the original £100 million, will help a further 750 homebuyers.

House builders have to register with the scheme – currently around 170 are classed as small builders and 20 are defined as large builders.

During a visit to a new development in Leven, Fife, under construction by Campion Homes, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:“The Scottish Government is supporting the housebuilding industry and Help to Buy (Scotland) is one of the creative ways we are stimulating new development, opening up the market to thousands of house buyers.

Over 4,100 homes have been bought in the last 15 months, many from larger builders, with smaller and medium-sized developers seeing a smaller share of sales.

So this new support of £30 million will be ringfenced to support purchases from 170 smaller building companies that develop thousands of quality homes across the country.

These are often in remote locations and keep much needed jobs and skills in rural areas, while having a positive knock on impact on the wider economy.”