North Wales projects secure £16m EU funding

Welsh GovernmentMore than £16 million of EU funds will be invested in two North Wales projects, Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has announced.

The funding will boost businesses in the marine energy sector and training programmes for people affected by long-term unemployment and economic inactivity.

Around 50 businesses will benefit from specialist research and development collaborations with universities and 2,000 people who are out of work take part in training programmes to develop new skills and improve their job prospects.

Mark Drakeford said: “This is a major investment of EU funding which will finance highly specialised-innovation in an important sector of our economy and target support to people who are finding it difficult to get into work.

These projects are also good examples of how EU funds are being used in Wales to grow businesses, improve people’s lives and strengthen our economy.”

Almost £12 million will support Bangor University’s £17 million SEACAMS 2 project, which aims to expand Wales’ marine energy sector over the next four years.

Experts at Bangor and Swansea universities will provide specialist research and development programmes to help businesses exploit commercial opportunities and create new products and patents.

The project aims to create new enterprises in the sector and accelerate job creation in existing businesses.

Professor Colin Jago, director of the SEACAMS project, said: “We will build on our five years of work with industry during the first SEACAMS funding phase.

In pooling expertise at Bangor and Swansea universities, we have the scope of knowledge to provide the detailed technical information required to support these exciting developments, which could change the way we resource our energy needs in Wales.”

Hull Uni secures £130m accommodation scheme

hull-uni-secures-130m-accommodation-schemeUniversity Partnerships Programme (UPP) has been appointed as preferred bidder to deliver a new student accommodation scheme for the University of Hull valued at around £130 million.

The 43-year partnership between the University and UPP will provide a further 1,450 students with a room, helping to meet the growing demand for high quality, on-campus accommodation.

The scheme will comprise a mixture of new build and estate transfer and UPP will raise the required investment and handle the design, construction and operation of the scheme. The construction value of the project is more than £80 million.

This latest partnership boosts UPP’s portfolio to around 31,500 rooms through long term partnerships with 15 leading universities across the UK.

Once the transaction is complete, UPP will have invested approximately £2.2 billion in universities across the UK since 1998, demonstrating the appetite amongst long term institutional investment for the higher education sector.

Sean O’Shea, Group Chief Executive of UPP, said: “We are committed to driving investment into the UK’s higher education sector and plan to invest a further £1 billion into universities over the next two years that will help deliver world class infrastructure and continue attracting the brightest and best students from across the world.”

Stephen Willis, Chief Finance Officer at the University of Hull, said: “The bold transformation well under-way on campus is a critical element in ensuring an outstanding student experience and a huge statement of confidence in the future of both the University and the city of Hull. We’re proud to be investing so significantly in making Hull a highly desirable place to live, work, study, visit and invest.”

Funding boost for proposed station at Robroyston

The Scottish GovernmentThe Scottish Government has given a huge boost to plans for a new railway station for Robroyston.

The new station proposals, which include a park & ride car park, are designed to provide local residents with a sustainable travel option, as well as catering for additional future demand from the 1,600 new households planned for the Robroyston area.

The Scottish Government has committed to meet 50% of the station`s currently estimated construction costs – over £7 million – through the Scottish Stations Fund. The remainder is expected to be met by the scheme promoters Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), Glasgow City Council, and private developers.

This investment reaffirms the Scottish Government’s commitment to investing in Scotland`s railways, ensuring that more people are able to access the rail network.

Minister for Transport, Humza Yousaf said: “I am very pleased to announce this substantial funding package for a new station for Robroyston.

This is a significant announcement, with Robroyston the first new station project to be funded by the Scottish Stations Fund, which was introduced to improve and increase access to rail across Scotland.

This announcement highlights the Scottish Government`s continued investment in rail infrastructure and services to better connect our communities and support sustainable economic growth and jobs across the country, with £5 billion of funding for infrastructure and services committed to 2019.”

Housing boost for the Islands

Help to Buy scheme boosts house buildingUp to 100 affordable homes will be built in island communities through a new £5 million fund.

Speaking during a Scottish Parliament debate Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced the Scottish Government will establish a new Islands Housing Fund – backed by up to £5 million funding over three years – to increase the availability of affordable housing in the islands.

This investment is in addition to the £25 million Rural Housing Fund which is supporting the building of new homes and refurbishment of existing properties in rural areas.

Mr Stewart said:“Scotland’s islands have rich and vibrant cultures and make a huge contribution to Scottish life but we know people living there can face challenges when it comes to accessing the home they want.

Our new £5 million Islands Housing Fund will increase the supply of good quality affordable housing which is an essential part of attracting and retaining people in our islands.

Investment in this support for the islands and through the Rural Housing Fund will help us deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament and ensure we are reaching across all of Scotland in our ambitions.

“Our Islands Housing Fund demonstrates our strong and continued support for our islands, with the forthcoming Islands Bill set to provide lasting benefits for these communities for generations to come.”

Construction set to begin on The Mill

construction-set-to-begin-on-the-millThe Mill – an 800 home urban village complete with a neighbourhood centre, community hall, and parks – is being developed by Tirion Homes on the site of the former Arjo Wiggins Paper Mill site in Canton.

The construction programme is expected to create over 1,000 jobs, many for people living locally.

The site remediation has been carried out by Alun Griffiths. The construction of the new homes will be undertaken by Lovell.

The Group is currently working on two other sites in the region; the 500-home Whiteheads development in Newport, and the planned 225-home Parc Eirin site in Tonyrefail.

Peter Mathias, chairman of Tirion Group, says: “The Mill is a ground-breaking development that will not only transform the local community around it, but hopefully become a blueprint for high-quality housing communities across South Wales.

As we prepare for the start of construction it is an honour to host AMs, MPs and councillors, and to be able to outline our vision for the site and our future vision for housing developments across Wales.”

At The Mill, Tirion has unlocked the potential of the long-disused paper mill site by acquiring and cleaning up the brownfield land with financial backing from the Welsh Government and Principality, securing planning permission and then developing the site in partnership with Lovell.

Lovell regional director Kate Rees says: “We are delighted to be working with the Tirion Group, Cadwyn Housing Association, the Welsh Government and Principality to deliver this landmark housing scheme for Cardiff and look forward to starting construction of these new high-quality homes for sale and for rent.

The Mill will create a brand-new community in an extremely desirable riverside location close to the city centre.”

Peter Hughes, managing director at Principality Commercial, said: “Supporting this development goes to the heart of our purpose in helping people access quality affordable housing in an attractive environment, with excellent links to the city centre.

In recent years we have invested heavily in local communities through a variety of both commercial and residential projects. The Mill project will hopefully pave the way for similar schemes across Wales.”

 

More affordable housing approved

House building starts hit 7-year highThe number of affordable homes in Scotland has increased by 26% on the previous year, bringing the total number of approvals over the year to 8,067.

Official statistics published this week show that during 2015-16, the number of new house builds started, across the public and private sector, rose to 16,910, a 4% increase on the previous year and the highest number of starts since 2008-9.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said the figures showed good early progress towards delivering the Scottish Government’s ambitious target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years.

Speaking ahead of a visit to a new housing development in Edinburgh which will provide 236 affordable homes in the city, Mr Stewart said: “We have an excellent track record on housing. The number of affordable home completions from April 2007 to end March 2016 was 60,704 – on average 24% more per year than the 38,015 delivered between April 2000 and March 2007.

“In the previous session of Parliament, we exceeded our target of delivering 30,000 affordable homes, and our bold and ambitious More Homes Scotland approach will build on that achievement.

“We have committed to investing over £3 billion to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years. This is accompanied by increased housing subsidy levels and a new Rural Housing Fund to boost the supply of affordable rural housing.

“We’ve also helped stimulate growing confidence in the private housing market and supported people into home ownership, in particular through our £500 million Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme.”

Employment reaches a record high

employment-reaches-a-record-highThe number of people in work is at a record high with nearly 175,000 more people in work up to July 2016, compared to the previous 3 months.

The Office for National Statistics confirmed today that there are 31.77 million people now in work – up by more than 550,000 in the past year and by 2.7 million since 2010.

The employment rate in the UK continues to run at a record high of 74.5%, and the unemployment rate holds firm at 4.9% – its lowest in more than 10 years.

The rise in employment continues to be driven by full-time work, which has accounted for 75% of the growth since 2010. Average wages including bonuses grew by 2.3% over the last year.

Work and Pensions Secretary of State, Damian Green, said: “It’s great to see another record-breaking set of figures out this month with the unemployment rate at a 10-year low and wages growing healthily.

We know that there are fewer children living in workless households too, which underlines our efforts to help people move into employment and to build a Britain that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

But there’s more to do, and we will continue to work with businesses to help more people take up the wealth of opportunities out there in the economy.”