Fast track planning to boost house building

House building UKCouncils are set to process planning applications quicker and be able to offer fast track application services which will boost house builders.

Ministers want the pilots to tackle the lack of incentive for councils to improve and speed up their planning service leading to “drawn out applications and local frustration” for both housebuilders and individual applicants.

The proposals are expected to boost housebuilding and speed up the planning application process.

The proposals will increase local choice by giving applicants the choice of whether to submit their plans to the local council, a competing council or a government approved organisation that would process applications up until the decision point.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “Council planning departments play a vital role in getting local housebuilding off the ground, but for too long they have had no incentive to get things done quickly or better, resulting in drawn out applications and local frustration.

These proposals will be a first time boost for housebuilders looking to build much needed new homes for hard working families and buyers, and for local people looking to get a planning permission for home improvements through their local council quicker.”

Federation of Master Builders Chief Executive Brian Berry said: “The slow processing of planning applications remains one of the greatest barriers to building more new homes.

We welcome the government’s determination to find new and innovative ways of addressing this problem as it could help builders deliver more homes.”

HS2 to create 25,000 construction jobs

HS2 talks business to boost the tradesThe Government has deposited a proposed set of changes to the High Speed 2 railway that will boost phase one of the project between London and the West Midlands.

Government experts are predicting the High Speed 2 railway connecting London with Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester will create 25,000 construction jobs.

Procurement has already started on the scheme with building work set to get under way in 2017.

Transport secretary Robert Goodwill said: “We are starting the procurement process by preparing the contracts that will be signed as soon as the bill has passed; some of the largest value contracts in UK construction history.

Generating tens of thousands of opportunities, sixty percent of which we expect to be awarded to small- and medium-sized businesses.

We need everything from architects to aggregates, steel and surveyors, to engineers and environmental consultants.

We estimate that HS2 will create 25,000 jobs during construction and 3,000 jobs when in operation.”

Mace to deliver £33m London West End office job

Mace to deliver £33m London West End office jobMace has been appointed by Exemplar, who are working in partnership with AshbyCapital, to deliver the £33m scheme at One Bedford Avenue in London’s West End.

One Bedford Avenue is scheduled for completion in early 2017 and has been designed by Stirling-nominated architects Bennetts Associates, with the project replacing two outdated office blocks with 115,000 sq ft of high-end retail and office accommodation.

There will be an art installation on the south-west corner of the building, acting as a marker to signify the entrance to Tottenham Court Road.

The new mixed-use development close to Tottenham Court Road will kick-start the redevelopment of the surrounding area in anticipation of Crossail’s completion in 2018. 

Sustainability is central to Exemplar and AshbyCapital’s vision and at the heart of the scheme’s design, which is targeting a BREEAM Excellent rating for the commercial space and Very Good in the retail units.

Sustainable measures incorporated into the design include green roofs, photovoltaics and CHP.

Mace is already working with Exemplar on Regent Street at 1 New Burlington Place and 10 New Burlington Street, and this new appointment complements Exemplar’s projects in the area.

Mace’s Chief Operating Officer for Construction, Gareth Lewis, said,This is a fantastic project for Mace and we’re delighted to be working with Exemplar on another high quality, high profile development in London’s West End. With Crossrail due for completion shortly after One Bedford Avenue, the scheme will be a major new addition to the Tottenham Court Road area.”

New Perth development to create new construction jobs

The Scottish GovernmentA A £30 million development is to be built within Perth city centre that will create more than 350 construction and supply jobs, while attracting over 300,000 visitors every year.

The Mill Quarter development, which will be located on the site of the Thimblerow car park, will comprise of restaurants and bars, speciality shops, a cinema, gyms, housing, and a multi storey car park.

This multi million pound project was secured by Perth and Kinross Council and helped by collaborative marketing undertaken by the Scottish Cities Alliance, a partnership between Scotland’s seven cities and the Scottish Government.

Expresso Property have been selected by Perth and Kinross Council as the preferred developer for the site.

Speaking as he visited Perth Concert Hall to make the announcement, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:“If Scotland’s cities thrive so too does the rest of the country, and I am pleased to announce this exciting new £30 million venture for Perth.

By providing a unique new destination for restaurants, retail and leisure, the Mill Quarter development will boost the local economy by creating jobs and attracting visitors to the area.

The Scottish Cities Alliance provides a single point of contact for potential investors to access all seven Scottish cities. This success clearly signals the benefits of our cities and the Scottish Government working together in partnership. I am delighted that this is the first deal to be done, and I hope it will be the first of many.”

Councillor Andrew Burns, Chair of the Scottish Cities Alliance said: “This is a fantastic result for the city of Perth and my congratulations go to everyone involved in bringing the deal to fruition.

I am quite sure that, thanks to our ongoing collaboration and, in particular, to the development of the Investment Prospectus, we can look forward to attracting many more major investments from across the globe.”

Nicholas Robinson of developers Expresso Property Limited said: “That forward thinking has been crucial in establishing the real business case for this development here in the heart of Perth and we are now excited to get the project underway.”

HCA exceeds house-building delivery targets

HCA exceeds house-building delivery targetsGovernment’s aspiration for building affordable homes has exceeded its target by over 11,000, the latest HCA’s set of six-monthly housing statistics revealed this month.

A total of 179,170 homes of all tenures were completed through programmes run by the Homes and Communities Agency during the 2011 to 2015 Spending Review period.

51,187 of those were delivered in the final year (2014 to 2015).

HCA Chief Executive, Andy Rose, said: “2014 to 2015 was a strong year of delivery for the agency. It was the final year of the 2011 to 2015 spending period, and I am pleased that we exceeded our completion forecasts across the range of our programmes which all help to support the housing ambitions of local places and communities.

In doing so, we have exceeded our anticipated contribution to government’s aspiration of up to 170,000 new affordable homes.

We look forward to working with the new government to help maintain the momentum in delivering new homes across all tenures, and ultimately, create successful places with homes and jobs.”

According to the HCA’s latest set of six-monthly housing statistics published this month, of the 51,187 homes completed in 2014 to 2015, 41,312 or 81% were affordable, an increase of 50% on the previous year.

The remainder, 9,875, were for sale on the open market, an increase of 45% on the year before.

During the year, there were a further 27,414 homes completed with the assistance of the Help to Buy equity loan programme, designed to help people, particularly first time buyers, into home ownership.

All of these programmes and homes help to drive overall housing supply, meeting a range of housing needs in local communities and contributing to local growth.

Download the complete set of housing statistics.

Government funding to boost Bristol’s Enterprise Zone

Government funding to boost Bristol’s Enterprise ZoneCommunity leaders in Bristol will be able to roll out even more ambitious plans for the city’s enterprise zone thanks to nearly £6 million of Government funding.

The grant has allowed Bristol City Council to acquire the derelict sorting office building site adjacent to Temple Meads railway station.

The 2.1 hectare site is a key within the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone and has lain disused and derelict for over 17 years.

The acquisition follows the council’s purchase of Arena Island and 1-9 Bath Rd. Over the next few months further work will be carried out to review how these three important sites can work together to create a new quarter within the enterprise zone.

This new opportunity will feed in to the planning application for the arena which is currently planned for the end of the summer.

Local Growth Minister James Wharton said: “This is great news for Bristol. As everyone knows this site has been an eyesore for years and a real blight on the city.

It’s why we’ve invested nearly £6 million to get these plans off the ground, which along with the Arena development will create hundreds of jobs for hard-working people and pump millions of pounds back into the local economy. It’s yet another example of how our Enterprise Zone programme is driving forward growth and delivering real benefits to local communities.”

The former sorting office site close to Temple Meads station and Arena Island contains two large interlinked disused buildings – a 1930’s sorting office and an adjoining 1970’s office building.

The council plans to use the site for a mix of employment space with some residential use. The site has potential for waterfront offices and provides important links with other sites in the enterprise zone.

It will bring better connections to Temple Meads station and could allow landing points for a new pedestrian bridge from Arena Island and links to a proposed floating pontoon cycleway and walkway connection to Temple Quay.

The purchase has been made possible through a grant of £5.425 million, from the Department of Communities and Local Government.

The grant supported the transfer of Arena Island from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to Bristol City Council allowing funding agreed by the Mayor to acquire Arena Island to be used to buy the former sorting office at Cattle Market Road.

Affordable house building ahead of target

House building continues to climbHousing statistics released today show the Scottish Government is ahead of its 5-year target to build 30,000 affordable homes by March 2016.

The figures show that 26,972 affordable homes have been delivered in the 4 years from 2011-12 as part of the Affordable Housing Supply Programme – 90 per cent of the Scottish Government target. This includes 18,670 homes for social rent – 93 per cent of the social rent target.

A total of 15,541 new build homes, both private and for social rent, were completed in the full year to end December 2014, 4 per cent (657 homes) more than the 14,884 completions in the previous year.

Private sector led housing accounted for a large proportion of this increase, with a 16 per cent increase in private sector led completions in 2014.

In addition, social sector new build homes completed for the first quarter of 2015 show a total of 1,677; more than double the number of homes completed in the same period last year.

This brings total social sector completions in the financial year 2014-15 to 4,221, an increase of 4 per cent on the previous year.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: “Housing is at the heart of the Scottish Government’s ambitions to create a fairer and more prosperous country and the supply of affordable housing is a key priority. I’m delighted to say we are well on track to meeting our five year target of 30,000 new homes by 2016.

The figures for the first quarter to the end of March 2015 are positive and we will work with partners to deliver our target of 30,000 affordable homes across Scotland by next year.

In addition, we will continue to work closely with the housing sector to support the construction of new homes across all tenures, supporting jobs in the construction industry and wider economy, and helping to strengthen communities, promote social justice and tackle inequality.”

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.”

Go-ahead for £1.7 bn Royal Albert Dock scheme

Go-ahead for £1.7 bn Royal Albert Dock schemeThe creation of the £1.7 billion London’s next business district that will create thousands of jobs has today moved a significant step closer.

The Greater London Authority has given the go-ahead in the process towards full planning approval to ABP for the 4.7 million sq ft development at Royal Albert Dock.

This follows the decision by Newham Council last year to grant planning permission subject to the response from the GLA.

ABP is expected to be able to begin work on the 35 acre site later this year and build what is being described as London’s next financial business district following the City of London and Canary Wharf. The first phase will be completed in 2018.

UK planning regulations are complex and it is understood it took months of negotiations between ABP and the planning authorities involving London Borough of Newham, Transport for London, and the Greater London Authority before agreement was finally reached.

The final stage is for UK Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, who is responsible for planning within the UK Central Government, to formally allow ABP to progress and Newham have already sent the documents to his office for ratification.

ABP’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director, John Miu, said: “Obviously we are delighted by how the whole planning process has progressed and we are looking forward to getting underway and completing our first phase in just 3 years.

There is tremendous interest from across Asia from companies wanting to locate in the Royal Albert Dock business district development and we look forward to making further exciting announcements in the months ahead.”

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said: “This decision means that we are a step closer to realising the vision of Newham as an international location for business.

The ABP development will bring further investment in to east London, including thousands of jobs and opportunities for Newham residents within high-tech businesses as well as construction industries from at home and abroad.

ABP is a significant part of the Royal Docks transformation which will see the revival of the waterfront and reinstate the docks as the heart of London’s industry.”