Government investment to create 3,000 skilled jobs

Government investment to create 3,000 skilled jobsThe UK government will invest £35 million to help thriving £70 billion automotive sector and create highly-skilled manufacturing jobs.

The investment will also improve industrial transport links on the A45, including a new bridge to connect Whitley South to the existing Jaguar Land Rover engineering centre and global HQ.

An expanded automotive business zone in Whitley, near Coventry, is set to become home to nearly 3,000 highly-skilled engineering and advanced manufacturing jobs, following £35 million in government investment, Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark announced this week.

The new 24-hectare site, known as the Whitley South Infrastructure Project, will open up new growth opportunities for local manufacturers and businesses in the supply chain, creating highly-skilled engineering and advanced manufacturing jobs.

The site is being developed with support from Coventry and Warwickshire LEP (CWLEP), Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council, who have secured further local contributions of £10 million to secure the project.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “Our world-class auto sector is leading the way and this new development will create thousands more skilled jobs. It shows how private and public sector can work together to make a difference to the economy.

That’s why every member of my ministerial team has been appointed as a local growth champion, to work with local enterprise partnerships like CWLEP to support key opportunities and increase prosperity.”

The new funding will also help improve local industrial transport links, connecting the site up with the A45, and constructing a new bridge to join the new development with an existing Jaguar Land Rover engineering centre.

To coincide with the announcement, CWLEP has also announced it will publish its refreshed Strategic Economic Plan today, which includes ‘Unlocking our Growth Potential’ and ‘Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering’ as its core priorities, as well as underlining the importance of funding the Whitley South Infrastructure Project.

Speaking ahead of a visit to Coventry-based advanced manufacturing company AMT Expert, Business Minister Margot James said: “The resurgence of advanced manufacturing and the automotive industry in the West Midlands is a real success story.

It’s vital we maintain this momentum and keep creating high-skilled jobs and don’t let any opportunity slip through our fingers. Today’s £35 million investment unlocks land that will help to cement the region as a leading destination for investment.”

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.”

Queen Street Tunnel works completed

Queen Street Tunnel works completedA £60 million project to refurbish and upgrade the kilometre-long Glasgow Queen Street tunnel was completed last week, nearly three days ahead of schedule.

Since the high-level station closed on Sunday 20 March, 3,000 engineers have been working around-the-clock for five months to renew 1,800 metres of concrete slab track and install more than 4,000 metres of new rails through the structure.

Station platforms and track layouts within Queen Street have also been extended and altered as part of the project, and both the tunnel and station have been prepared for the electrification of the main Glasgow-Edinburgh line next year.

Electrification will allow the introduction of faster, longer and greener trains on the line – delivering thousands of extra seats, shorter journey times and improved accessibility for customers.

Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf helped tighten the final bolt on the new slab track inside the tunnel and met with customer service staff.

Mr Yousaf said: “I am pleased to see the work on the Queen Street tunnel completed ahead of schedule and on budget. This has been an unprecedented project, both in engineering terms and in the scale of the operation required to keep people moving and services diverted via the underground platforms during the works.

This is a key milestone in our programme of investment for Scotland’s railways and literally paves the way for the introduction of a new generation of electric trains.

I would like to congratulate the ScotRail-Network Rail Alliance on a successful job, and the hundreds of men and women who have worked day and night to deliver the hugely ambitious project.”

London City Airport expansion hailed by the Government

London City Airport expansion hailed by the GovernmentIn a major boost to support British jobs and investment, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid have today announced the go-ahead for a brand new £344 million expansion programme at London City Airport.        

The three ministers announced the approved plans for an extended terminal, new aircraft taxiway and parking spaces for planes in one of the capital’s fastest growing airports.

Set to improve passengers’ journeys, these new plans will increase connections within the UK and Europe and support business opportunities and investment.

London City Airport also estimates that the scheme will create 1,600 airport jobs for staff, together with 500 construction jobs, and could potentially contribute £1.5 billion to the UK economy by 2025.

There will be new space for planes to taxi to and from the runway, so more planes can use it, and new stands for planes to allow bigger, more modern planes to use the airport.

London City Airport will also make a number of investments in transport links around the airport, including funding the cost of additional DLR rolling stock (£2.6 million), investing in a bus and taxi access scheme and improving walking and cycle routes to the airport.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said: “London City Airport’s ambitious growth plans will boost international connections, strengthening the City of London’s links to destinations across the world, and send a clear signal that Britain is open for business.

“This is a real vote of confidence in the resilience of our economy, creating over a thousand new jobs.”

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is fantastic news for London and Britain as a whole. I am determined to invest in the infrastructure this country needs, to help people get around more easily, boost investment and create opportunities.”

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.”

Wates framework brings employment boost to the Midlands

Wates framework brings employment boost to the MidlandsWates Construction is using its role on the East Midlands Property Alliance framework to boost prospects for job seekers and help the building trades.

In the two years since its appointment to the framework, Wates has engaged a total of 5,215 pupils and students across the region to encourage young talent into the sector, as well as over 250 individuals at careers fairs.

The news comes as the UK Commission for Employment and Skills reports that the East Midlands is currently facing the largest skills gap in the United Kingdom, which stands at 16 per cent of the regional workforce lacking the skills required for their role.

Wates’ presence in the region has included the transformation of Dakeyne Street and the construction of Heathfield Primary School, which join the portfolio of empa projects where 95.7 per cent of sub-contractors appointed have been SMEs.

Work in the region has also seen the contractor provide 1,097 training days in health and safety, professional development and sustainability, as well as 253 days worth of on-site skills training.

In addition, a host of professional and academic qualifications have been awarded to apprentices and employees at Wates, including nine NVQs and three degrees.

Regional business manager, Paul Windle at empa, said: “In 2015 alone, Wates and its partners helped secure almost 250 construction jobs in the industry, through the academy alone.

I would like to thank them for their continued commitment to the scheme which will help see more talented workers pursue a career in construction over the next few years.”

Housing completions at 7 year high

Housing completions at 7 year highThe number of newly built homes continues to rise and is now at the highest level since 2008 to 2009, new figures released this month show.

139,690 new homes were completed in the year to March – a rise of 12% on the previous year.

And the latest house building figures also show that the number of new homes started is also at its highest level since 2007 to 2008.

139,680 homes were started in 2015 to 2016. This continues the upward trend as both starts and completions have continued to grow gradually for the last 2 years.

Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said: “We’ve got the country building again and are seeing our house building efforts paying-off with this considerable increase in the number of homes built in just 1 year.

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

House building growth across the country

The new figures show strong regional growth in Wakefield and London experiencing high levels of completions.

Delivery in London saw 32% more homes being built in 2015 to 2016 than the previous year with local authorities in Basildon and Haringey seeing completions soar 279% and 1039% respectively over the same period.

And in Wakefield completions were up 59%, from 1,028 to 1,634.

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

The government’s landmark Housing and Planning Act will also help deliver on its ambition to build a million more homes.

The Act will ensure local authorities continue to play an important role in delivery, and new measures will allow them to provide more homes more swiftly.