Balfour Beatty gets £35m Perth Transport contract

Balfour Beatty gets £35m Perth Transport contractBalfour Beatty has been awarded a £35 million contract to deliver the first phase of the Perth Transport Futures Project, which will support growth in Scotland’s third fastest developing region.

Balfour Beatty will create a new grade separated junction on the A9 dual carriageway as well as a new link road enabling access to development land to the west of the city.

This is the first of four phases of the Perth Transport Futures project which aims to alleviate congestion, enhance accessibility to the city and unlock £500 million of economic growth for the local economy.

Hector Macaulay, Balfour Beatty Regional Managing Director, Scotland, said: “Delivery of this project will provide significant opportunities for local sub-contractors and suppliers, ensuring that the Perth and Kinross community not only benefits from greatly improved infrastructure, but also from the added economic benefit delivered through this scheme.”

Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive, said: “Through our National Civil Engineering and Infrastructure framework, Balfour Beatty and Perth and Kinross Councils have already formed a close partnership and this will help to ensure a streamlined and efficient first phase of the Perth Transport Futures Project.

Through the framework, the council is investing in the local economy and delivering added value for local residents as well as new opportunities for local SMEs, further enhancing growth in this rapidly developing region.”

The works are due to commence in September 2016, with completion expected in Spring 2019. The scheme will employ around 100 people and will provide a number of apprenticeship opportunities. 

Increase in number of new homes built and started

Increase in number of new homes built and startedThe number of newly built homes across England has increased 6% in the past year, new figures released today show.

The latest house building data shows that 139,030 new homes were completed in the year to June and have continued to build gradually over the last 2 years.

More than 144,280 homes were started in the year to June 2016.

Meanwhile, figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show there are more first-time buyers than at any time since 2007, with 72,800 in England in the second quarter of 2016.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We’ve got the country building again with more new homes started and built than this time last year.

This is real progress but there is much more to do. That’s why we are going further and increasing our investment in house building to ensure many more people can benefit.”

House building across the country

Today’s figures show strong regional growth in London, Swindon and Wakefield, which are all experiencing high levels of completions.

Delivery in London saw 24% more homes being built in the year to June 2016 than the previous year with local authorities in Greenwich and Waltham Forest seeing completions soar 126% and 103% respectively over the same period.

And in Swindon and Wakefield completions were up 104% and 41% respectively.

Figures published last year show that the total number of new homes across the country rose by 25% in 2014 to 2015, when taking in to account all homes, including new builds, houses that have been converted into flats and buildings whose use has been changed to residential.

The government is committed to building the homes this country needs and investing £8 billion to build 400,000 more affordable homes to rent and buy.

The landmark Housing and Planning Act will help deliver on its ambition to build a million more homes by ensuring councils continue to play a key role in delivery, and through new measures that will allow them to deliver more homes more swiftly.

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.”

Building work on new £9.7m care home in Enfield gets underway

Building new £9.7m care home in Enfield gets underwayMorgan Sindall has held a topping out ceremony to celebrate reaching a key milestone in the construction of a £9.7 million care home in North East Enfield.

The Enfield Care Home development will include 70 bedrooms, 17 community rooms, a landscaped garden, hairdressing salon and a modern kitchen and will be equipped to the highest regulation standards with hoists, various aids, lifts and safe storage for medication.

The development will replace Coppice Wood Lodge and Bridge House, and residents from these two neighbouring care homes will be the first to be welcomed into the new building in November 2016.

The new building will be fitted with excellent personal and en-suite facilities in every room and will increase nursing care capacity in Enfield, offering more accommodation than the previous homes.

Cllr Alev Cazimoglu, Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “The new care home will be a bright modern building with excellent facilities, specifically designed to meet residents’ needs.

It will be fully equipped with adapted en-suite bathrooms, activity rooms and a landscaped garden complete with seating areas and wheelchair accessible paths.

Neil Franklin, area director for Morgan Sindall, said: “We’re very pleased to be taking part in this ceremony which celebrates a key milestone in the construction of Enfield Council Care Home.”

Forrest to build £12.6m Manchester resi scheme

Forrest to build £12.6m Manchester resi schemeContractor Forrest has been appointed to deliver M-One Central, a £12.6 million new build development in the heart of Manchester.

The Factory Estates Limited scheme will comprise 119 one and two-bedroom apartments over 12 storeys, in addition to communal spaces including a roof-level terrace, a ground-floor gym for residents and a new landscaped public square.

Designed by architects IDP Group, the building will be clad in oxidised metal panels to complement neighbouring structures, with construction due to begin at the end of May 2016 and completion expected in summer 2017.

M-One Central follows Forrest’s work in delivering both X1 Eastbank and X1 The Plaza, both luxury private rented apartments, also on Great Ancoats Street.

Andrew Leaver, associate director, at IDP Group, which created the design, said: “It’s an exciting time to be working on one of the many new buildings changing the Manchester skyline.

The city’s red brick architecture is iconic and M-One has been designed to recognise the existing look and feel of the area, yet offering buyers modern, open plan living in a vibrant neighbourhood.”

Ted Macdougal, development director at Forrest, said: “As more people embrace city centre living in key locations such as Manchester and London, the demand for developments is rising.”

Chris Bowman, director at Factory Estates Ltd, said: “We’re looking forward to working with Forrest on this exciting project, which is set to be a striking addition to a new movement of residential schemes in Manchester.”

Go-ahead for Yorkshire Schools Building Programme

Go-ahead for Yorkshire Schools Building ProgrammeLaing O’Rourke has reached financial close on the Yorkshire Batch of the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme that will pave the way for construction works.

With a value of £120 million the project involves the building of seven secondary schools in the West and North Yorkshire areas.

The school buildings are designed around double and triple height spaces for communal areas such as the halls and dining areas, giving the students an abundance of natural daylighting.

Each school will also have its own standalone sports centre with integral changing facilities.The project will be financed under the PF2 model, by a consortium of lenders secured through an Aggregator Vehicle.

The first three schools will move into the new buildings in the early part of 2017, a further three schools following in September 2017, with the largest school becoming available in the Spring of 2018.

The DfMA approach will also offer benefits in the delivery of quality and compliance, with factory standards of quality control being applied to major components such as external wall panels.

This will achieve a consistently high standard of installation which has resulted in the FM service charges, being some of the lowest seen in comparison to similar projects.

Lagan lands London City Airport contract

Lagan lands London City Airport contractLagan Construction International has beeen given the go-ahead to build a multi-million pound airfield infrastructure project at London City Airport.

The runway overlay and taxiway widening scheme is expected to start in May 2016.

The main works include overlaying the existing runway surface with grooved Marshall Asphalt, widening of the taxiways Alpha, Bravo and Charlie and reinforcement of the taxiways Delta, Kilo, Lima and Mike.

Further works detail the refurbishment of the existing drainage network, installation of a new pit and duct network as well as upgrades to the AGL system to include LED lighting and the installation of new centre line lighting.

The project works will be undertaken outside of airport operating hours, to ensure there will be zero disruption to flights at the airport.

Steve Turner, Director of International Operations, Lagan Construction International, said:Having completed projects on over 50 airports across 5 continents, airport infrastructure works are a core part of our business and our teams are experienced in providing the engineering skills and technologies necessary to deliver both airside and groundside support facilities. 

We look forward to working collaboratively with our client, London City Airport. We have a fully committed team to ensure this contract is delivered with the highest safety standards, low environmental impact, within programme and cost requirements.”

The anticipated completion date of the project is November 2016 and the airport will maintain normal operations throughout the duration of the project.

Willmott Dixon to build new home for Scarborough FC

Willmott Dixon to build new home for Scarborough FCWillmott Dixon will create a new ground for Evo-Stik First Division North team Scarborough Athletic Football Club as part of a £15 million leisure development.

The company has been appointed by Scarborough Borough Council under Scape Group’s Major Works framework to create Scarborough Leisure Village, which will house an eight lane 25-metre Olympic legacy swimming pool and fitness centre as well as all-weather football pitch and spectator stand that will become home to the town’s football team.

The scheme involves a developer, Wrenbridge Sport Limited, which is part funding the project following a land swap agreement with Scarborough Borough Council.

With enabling works complete, Willmott Dixon will have the leisure complex finished by summer 2017.

The project on the town’s former Weaponness coach park is close to where Willmott Dixon is also building a new £14 million campus for the recently opened Coventry University Scarborough Campus.

This purpose built campus will include a library, IT suites, café, mock law court, engineering and science labs, plus a careers team.

Anthony Dillon, managing director in the North West said: “We are very proud of our track-record in the leisure sector, providing first-class facilities for local people.

Scarborough is a fantastic town and we are looking forward to using our expertise in leisure projects to deliver a facility that will revitalise this part of Scarborough.”

Boost for house builders as planning permissions hit 8-year high

Boost for house builders as planning permissions hit 8-year highNew figures published this week show that the number of planning permissions for homes rose 6% on a year earlier, as housing measures continue to turn the market around and build more homes.

The number of major applications being processed swiftly by local authorities is also at an all-time high with a record 81% decided within the required time.

It means the number of planning permissions granted for homes in 2015 was the highest since 2007.

According to analysis of Glenigan data also published today permission was granted for 253,000 homes during 2015.

Government figures show that as well as rising numbers of planning permissions for homes, the number of permissions granted overall between October and December 2015 was 4% greater than a year earlier, with councils granting 92,000 decisions.

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said: We’ve brought the housing market back from the brink with more than 700,000 new homes delivered since 2010 and a further one million granted planning permission.

Today’s figures are further good news for hard-working families and first time buyers wanting to achieve their dream of home ownership with constructions rates up and plenty of homes in the pipeline.”

The reformed planning system and National Planning Policy Framework cut more than 1,000 pages of guidance to around just 50, simplifying the process for obtaining planning permission whilst maintaining safeguards for the countryside.

The government is currently moving ahead with its landmark Housing and Planning Bill, which will help deliver on its ambition to build a million more homes.

Measures include:

  • new affordable Starter Homes – a new legal duty will be placed on councils to guarantee the delivery of Starter Homes on all reasonably sized new development sites, and to promote the delivery of Starter Homes in their area

  • permission in principle for sites identified in plans and brownfield registers – to give certainty around the sites that are suitable for housing, while protecting the green belt

  • planning reforms to support small builders – requiring councils to ensure they have permission shovel ready plots to match the local demand for custom build

Figures released recently as part of the English Housing Survey showed that more than a decade-long decline, starting in 2003, in the number of people owning their home has been turned around with more than 14 million owner occupiers in the country last year.

Renewables could boost Scottish islands

Renewables could boost Scottish islandsScotland’s island economies could benefit from up to £725 million over the next 25 years from renewables projects according to an independent report published this week.

Scottish islands have some of the best renewable energy resources in Europe – from wind, wave and tidal.

The Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland have the potential to supply up to 5 per cent of total electricity demand in the GB market by 2030.

The report, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government and published by Baringa, provides analysis of the scale of the economic opportunities available to the Scottish Islands from further deployment of renewable energy.

With appropriate investment in grid infrastructure and generating assets, renewable energy deployment on the Islands could grow rapidly by the early 2020s.

Delivering this increased level of deployment could result in:

  • Economic benefits up to £725 million for the island economies, including up to £225 million in community benefits

  • Local economic stimulus at peak of up to £83 million a year or an additional 5% boost to local economic output on average across the Islands

  • Revenues to community owned equity totalling up to £390 million for local communities from island generation projects

  • Employment boost of up to 2,000 jobs created in the peak development phase across the Islands

  • Alleviation of grid constraints in the Orkney Islands alone that could increase income to existing wind developments by around £2.7 million annually

Commenting on the report from Stornoway, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, Fergus Ewing said: “This report confirms the potential of the vast renewable resources of our islands. They are arguably the best places in Europe to deliver renewable energy.

The wind speeds are the strongest and they have the best potential for wave and tidal energy in the future.

The potential considerable economic and employment benefits from renewables means it is vital for the UK Government to deliver on their commitment to the islands.”