Plans to build a £31m ‘smart street bridge’ in Sunderland are set to move ahead as the transformation of the city’s riverside gathers pace.
The plan to build a high-level pedestrian and cycle bridge is expected to be approved by Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet next week, paving the way for the council to seek a design and build contractor.
Featuring augmented reality, the crossing will allow people to use their smartphones to see virtual displays, creating experiences that council bosses say will ‘bring the city’s digital ambitions to life.’
The bridge will be fitted with creative lighting to appear as a ‘shard of light’ in the evening, illuminating the green open spaces that flank the riverside below.
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “This street bridge represents a hugely significant piece of infrastructure that will bring together both sides of the river, something that is critical to our vision of creating a vibrant mixed-use community spanning the north and south of the Wear. ”
The new crossing, which is likely to get started next summer, includes a high parapet and balustrades for safety. It will stand at a height that ensures that river-use will not be restricted and will boast stunning vistas across the river and out to sea.
Set to open in the first half of 2023, the crossing – which was warmly welcomed by Sunderland AFC players past and present when plans were revealed – will extend from the Keel Line, connecting to the banks of the Wear in the shadow of the Stadium of Light.
Papers submitted to Sunderland’s Cabinet show that the council’s ambition is to use Port of Sunderland to transport the new crossing in sections, transporting them up-river to construct the bridge.
The University of Plymouth is in advanced talks to sign a contract with BAM to create a new home for its School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics. Original 1970s cubed building will be stripped back to the frame and extended outwards Planning permission has just been granted to extend and enhance the Babbage Building, on the western edge of the University’s main city centre campus. The planning decision means the University can now finalise commercial negotiations with BAM Construct UK, with the aim of exchanging contracts in early 2021 and beginning work. Building’s envelope will consist of traditional masonry hand-laid glazed blue brick on a highly insulated structural framing system. The revamped facility, designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, will include a dedicated new-build component and refurbishment of the 1970s Babbage Building, creating more than 10,000m² of research and teaching space. Over the next 10 years, the University will be investing £100m in its campus to continue its expansion. Graham Kingdon, Construction Director for BAM, said: “We’re looking at all the ways we can bring our higher education knowledge and our digital expertise in design and construction to bear, to create a facility that is sustainable and energy efficient. “As always we plan to work in our highly collaborative way and use this scheme to support Building Plymouth by creating opportunities for future employment and training.” BAM’s engagement has come through the..
The Government has allocated £600m to 178 NHS trusts to help clear the critical maintenance backlog at English hospitals. The funding to refurbish wards, fit new electrics and upgraded ventilation systems and upgrade fire safety has been released to 178 NHS trusts to cover almost 1,800 maintenance projects. The first projects are now getting underway, and will be completed by March 2021. The investment is part of £1.5bn capital funding announced in the summer to build an NHS fit for the future, which also includes plans to modernise mental health facilities and expand A&E capacity. Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Alongside delivering on our manifesto commitment to build 40 new hospitals and 20 major hospital upgrades across the country, this investment will help our NHS build back better. “These crucial maintenance projects will deliver immediate benefits and provide NHS staff with the facilities they need to provide world-class care to their patients this winter, helping ensure the NHS is always there for you when you need it.” The projects include: £16m for a new critical care centre at Northampton General Hospital £3.3m to Croydon Health Services NHS Trust for a new paediatric integrated unit £6.5m for the construction of a new MRI building at St George’s Hospital in London to house a new scanner £2.7m to refurbish Firth Theatres at the Northern General Hospital, which includes critical care, cardiovascular surgery..
Initial work can get under way on the Stornoway Deep Water Terminal following confirmation of £49m investment package. More than 200 jobs will be created through the development of the new terminal in the Outer Hebrides. Scotland’s rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing confirmed the £49m investment, which comes from a number of partners seeking to strengthen transport links and support a range of industries in the Western Isles. The project includes a facility for berthing for cruise ships up to 360 metres long, a new deep water berth to cater for larger cargo vessels, and a freight ferry berth. There will be berthing and unloading facilities for renewable energy components and development land for a range of uses such as industrial processes and decommissioning. Ewing said: “We want our island communities to thrive and this investment to create a deep water terminal at Stornoway will provide infrastructure to support a range of diverse industries and economic activities, ranging from cruises, to energy, to aquaculture and ferries, which will be a tremendous benefit to the Western Isles. “This transformational project, which will put Stornoway in pole position to take advantage of emerging technologies such as hydrogen, is the culmination of dedicated partnership working between local partners, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Comhairle nan Eilean Siar [Western Isles Council] and the Scottish government to create a development of real value to communities...
Three vast development schemes in the East Midlands are set to move to market engagement with investors within the next three months. The ambitious plans involve redevelopment of Ratcliffe coal-fired power stations, construction of a vast Inland Freeport near East Midlands Airport and building a big community and innovation district around the region’s HS2 station hub. Together, the schemes aim to generate 84,000 jobs and add £4.8bn a year to the value of the East Midlands economy. A Government-supported interim body, prior to the legal formation of the new East Midlands Development Corporation, will start advancing plans for the schemes that collectively cover the size of three London Olympic Parks. This interim vehicle will initiate planning and enabling works ahead of formal parliamentary approval for the development corporation, expected to take over 12 months. Sir John Peace, chair of the Midlands Engine, said: “Both Covid-19 and the Brexit transition pose significant challenges for our economy. It’s therefore critical that we have ambitious plans for the future – and that we’re ready to move fast. “The East Midlands has brought together a formidable partnership from across the region to develop long-term plans which aim to deliver 84,000 jobs, unleash new technologies and add billions to the value of the UK economy. “To make the most of this massive potential, we are working together in a regional partnership to build a new organisation..
Any card carrying the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) logo will soon have to have an embedded smart chip to protect the integrity of the system. CSCS cards are not a legal requirement but are accepted as an industry-standard requirement for all workers on most major construction sites. There are various bodies that issue different trade-specific CSCS cards and most are already at some stage of integrating smart technology into their cards to improve security and efficiency. The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has updated its Industry Card Schemes Recommendation, which requires the use of cards carrying the CSCS logo, to increase the uptake of smart technology The Construction Leadership Council has set a deadline of 31st March 2022 for all card schemes to have smart technology . They must have the capability to electronically check agreed information relevant to a cardholder, using a common interface, without the need to manually enter data, the CLC says. CLC task force member Mark Reynolds said: “The CLC is keen to see technology used across the industry to enable everyone to access and use the information we hold to make better decisions.” Mark Reyolds also said: “The need to validate and verify the , qualification, skills and competence of construction workers has been brought into sharp focus since the Grenfell Tower fire,” suggesting that somehow the Grenfell Tower fire was the fault of the low-grade..
More than 500 new construction jobs could be created in Scotland following the signing of an agreement to establish a manufacturing yard for floating foundations for wind turbines. Port of Cromarty Firth has signed a letter of intent with Ideol, a specialist in floating for offshore wind. The agreement would see France-based Ideol and its future local construction partners use the Port’s land and Firth berthing sites. The partners would also cooperating towards further developing the facilities and infrastructure to establish a hull manufacturing yard for incoming floating wind tenders. In addition to providing business opportunities for local suppliers, the manufacturing would call upon proven construction methods and create a mix of skilled and semi-skilled work in the Highlands. Ideol has teamed up with Elicio - an offshore wind farm developer and operator in the Belgian North Sea - and BayW – a global renewable energy business with a strong historical presence in Scotland - to submit proposals for the ScotWind tender launched by Crown Estate Scotland. The consortium is operating under the name ‘Floating Energy Allyance’. There is expected to be massive expansion of offshore wind off the Scottish coast – Port of Cromarty Firth said that the pipeline of development predicted to be worth over £26bn just in the first round of 10GW development sites. Chief executive Bob Buskie said: “This partnership shows the vital manufacturing role the Port can play..
North Ayrshire Council has set out plans for improvements across its housing stock. It is consulting on rent increases that would allow a major programme of work, including a larger rise that would pay for additional measures to reduce fuel bills. The planned investment starting in 2021/22 includes the launch of a £25m programme for work on it sheltered housing, at least £5m for regeneration projects, more than half a million pounds on projects driven by tenants, and continuation of a £1m-per-year programme to regenerate estates. In addition, more than £15m will be spent on improving existing council homes with plans for over 300 new bathrooms, more than 400 new kitchens, over 1,000 external door replacements and more than 500 new boiler installations. Councillor Jim Montgomerie, cabinet member for green new deal and sustainability, said: “We continue to have one of the lowest rent levels in Ayrshire and our rent levels also remain below the Scottish average. “Despite this, we are delivering on our ambitious plans in place to build more than 1,500 new council homes across North Ayrshire as well as investing millions in our existing houses, giving tenants the types of homes they want to live in.” Council tenants are currently being consulted on proposed rent levels for next year and can express their preference for one of two options – a 1.9% increase or a 2.5% increase...
Plans to build a £54m glass research and development centre in Merseyside have been backed with central Government and local council funding. Glass Future research centre will be built in St Helens, next to rugby league stadium. The Glass Futures scheme in St Helens will involve building a 158,000 sq ft glass furnace research and development centre, capable of producing 30 tonnes of sustainable glass a day. The ultimate goal of the industry research project will be to eliminate CO2 from the production process. The research factory will be built on a 14-acre site adjacent to St Helens’ Rugby League ‘Totally Wicked’ stadium. Government today announced it would support the ground-breaking project with £15m funding. This comes on top of a £9m pledge from the Liverpool City Region announced earlier this year and a similar sum from St Helens Council. Companies from around the glass sector are also set to contribute around £20m funding. Glass Futures’ chief executive Richard Katz, said: “This £15m funding is an essential catalyst to kickstart the delivery of Glass Futures’ £54m Global Centre of Excellence in St Helens, an area rich in glass history. “The state-of-the-art R&D facility will enable Glass Futures and its members to work collaboratively to research and develop innovative solutions enhancing resource efficiency, moving the industry closer to sustainable low-carbon glass production and increasing productivity.” The facility will attract inward investment to..
Barrow-in-Furness, Blackpool, Darlington, Peterborough, Norwich, Torquay and Warrington are the first of 101 places to be granted a share of the Government’s new £3.6bn Town Fund to regenerate centres. The seven towns and cities will share nearly £180m in the first Town Deal awards to create jobs and drive growth across the country. Forming a cornerstone of this government’s levelling up agenda, these landmark deals will see millions invested in projects across the country. First Town Deal £39.5m to upgrade the Blackpool Illuminations and to support the development of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone £22m to modernise Torquay town centre, transforming it into a retail and leisure destination as well as improving transport links with a new focus on walking and cycling routes £23m for Peterborough to lay the groundwork for low carbon living. Planned projects include a skills centre for green technologies, enterprise hub and a new pedestrian bridge Darlington’s £22m deal includes funding for the town’s T-Levels offer which will help learners kickstart their careers in a number of fields. Barrow has secured £25m to spend on developing a new learning quarter, community wellbeing hubs and improving the local cycling and walking infrastructure. They also plan to run a housing renewal programme to address the lack of high-quality housing in the region. Norwich’s £25m will help to realise the city’s ‘2040 Vision’, which includes a new digital hub,..
Highways England has submitted its application for the £6bn Lower Thames Crossing to the Planning Inspectorate for approval. The Lower Thames Crossing development consent order (DCO) application was filed on 23rd October 2020. The Planning Inspectorate now has 28 days to review the application and decide whether or not to accept it. Assuming it does, the inspectorate will then invite written submissions from interested parties. Following the end of the six-month examination stage, the Planning Inspectorate will have three months to write a recommendation report and submit it to the secretary of state for transport. The Lower Thames Crossing will create a new three-lane dual carriageway, 14.3 miles long, connecting the M2 near Rochester and the M25 in Essex between North and South Ockenden. It will include a pair of 2.4-mile long bored tunnels under the River Thames, linking Kent and Essex. The scheme also includes improvements to the M25, A2 and A13, where the scheme connects to the road network. The north entrance to the Lower Thames Crossing, in Essex
The University of the West of England is planning to build a further 2,000 bed spaces in two phases at its Frenchay Campus in Bristol. Design for blocks which will be the largest Passivhaus student scheme in the country Phase one of the £200m scheme will initially involve demolishing the existing Carroll Court buildings and constructing 900-bed spaces across three buildings rising to six-storeys. Site enabling works are expected to start in June 2021 and the main works in October 2021. This will include a café, shared lounges and communal dining spaces. Elevation view of two planned blocks designed by architect Stride Treglown The University said in response to the climate change emergency it had developed a strategy to become carbon neutral by 2030, to reduce water and energy use, cut waste and support biodiversity. Plan of three new major accommodation blocks To meet this goal it is aiming to make the student accommodation project a Passivhaus development. Firms are being invited to and attend a further briefing on the project, approach to market and Passivhaus – at a date to be agreed – in late November
The contract is expected to be worth between £150m and £190m to the winning contractor over the eight-year term. It is being procured under the organisation’s new asset delivery model. England is looking for a contractor to provide and undertake all cyclical and routine maintenance, incident response, defect rectification and severe weather delivery on the all-purpose trunk roads and motorways within its Area 3. This is Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and part of Buckinghamshire, but not including the M25. Current maintenance contract for Are 3 is Kier , which secured a three-year extension in 2018. The procurement documents are available for unrestricted and full direct access, free of charge, at:
The Home Office has cleared plans to expand capacity at four prisons over the next three years. Extra places for nearly 1,000 inmates will be created in a £200m building programme. This will involve building new houseblocks at HMPs Guys Marsh near Shatfsbury (180 places); Rye Hill in Rugby (462 places); Stocken in Rutland (206 places). HMP High Down near Sutton in Surrey will get a new workshop freeing up space for 90 extra places. Planning permission is being sought for works to begin, and the first prisoners are expected to arrive from Winter 2022 at Rye Hill jail, and throughout 2023 at the remaining sites. Prisons Minister, Lucy Frazer QC MP, said: “This significant step in our plan to transform the prison estate shows the government’s intention to invest in infrastructure, create jobs and to build back better for this country. “The new houseblocks will provide modern environments where we can effectively rehabilitate offenders and steer them away from crime.” The buildings are another major step in the £2.5bn programme to create 10,000 extra prison places. This will see four new prisons built in England over the next six years. A new jail will be constructed at HMP Full Sutton, in East Yorkshire, and work is underway to identify a site in the North West of England and two in the South East. In addition to the four new prisons, Kier..
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has set out its future spending plans with the launch of its procurement pipeline. The DIO procurement pipeline reveals all construction-related work that will be carried out in the coming years for the UK armed forces on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. It includes new build work, refurbishments and facilities management, as well as design and consultancy work being procured. The pipeline will be updated every three months to help the supply chain better plan activities. Minister for defence procurement Jeremy Quin said: “We are committed to being a good commercial partner. Our defence estate is a critical element in our delivery to our people and defence tasks. We hope a transparent pipeline helps all suppliers identify how and where we can work together.” DIO commercial director Nick Wilkinson said: “It is extremely important both for us in DIO and our current and future suppliers that we share as much of our upcoming work as possible. We know the importance of having time to adequately plan strategic alignment, bidding resources and working resources against work packages suppliers are interested in. “This is equally in important for DIO as it helps us to think further ahead in our planning and gives a wide range of high capability suppliers from SMEs to large organisations the ability to bid.” Category Sub-Category Tender or Mini-comp from framework Framework..
The Government has unveiled the 40 major hospital projects it plans to build by 2030 as part of an initial package worth £3.7bn. A further eight projects will be added to the pipeline of new hospital and major overhaul projects once future funding bids have been assessed. New standards will be developed over the coming months to help standardise the design of new hospitals and make use of modular construction methods to speed up the build. The full pipeline of projects will need far more than the £3.7bn earmarked, with big extra spending commitments needed over future years to deliver the ambitious programme which could ultimately cost up to £20bn to deliver, according to NHS insiders. The (HIP) is the biggest hospital building programme in a generation. It launched last September with a £2.8bn investment that gave six new hospitals the funding to go ahead, alongside seed funding for trusts to work up business cases. The trusts that received seed funding will now all be fully funded to deliver 25 new hospitals. A new hospital in Shotley Bridge is also being added to the programme. NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said: “We welcome the government’s focus on investing in replacing and refurbishing the NHS estate as, for a growing number of trusts, this has now become an urgent problem. “Building a new, average mid-sized, hospital costs around £500m, so..
Homes, schools and hospitals across England are set to be greener and cheaper to run thanks to a £3bn plan to upgrade the nation’s buildings. Today the Government launches its funding schemes to help retrofit buildings, expected to support 120,000 construction jobs. Around £1bn will be channelled into boosting the energy efficiency of public buildings, including schools and hospitals through a Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund. This will help an array of public sector organisations in England, including central government departments, agencies, local authorities, schools and NHS Trusts, to install energy efficiency and low carbon heating measures, reducing energy bills and carbon emissions. An extra £50m will fund social housing through a demonstrator project for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF). This UK-wide demonstrator scheme will see grants supplied to upgrade the energy efficiency of over 2000 of the worst-performing social homes. The flagship Green Homes Grant forms the major part of the wider energy upgrade plan. Around £2bn will be available to help private home owners upgrade the energy performance of homes, using TrustMark-registered installers. Green Homes Grant The Green Homes Grant scheme will see the government fund up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvements up to £5,000. Homeowners with low-incomes, including those on certain benefits, are eligible for a grant covering up to 100% of the cost of works up to £10,000. The scheme will improve the..
The government is introducing a new public procurement model that takes greater account of the additional social value created by contractors who are bidding for work. Businesses seeking to win government work must set out how they will also deliver on the government's social value priorities. The changes mean that, from 1st January 2021, central government will now be required to go further than the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 to ensure that all major procurements explicitly evaluate social value, where appropriate, rather than just consider it. The social value model on which departments will assess contracts includes: supporting Covid-19 recovery, including helping local communities manage and recover from the impact of Covid tackling economic inequality, including creating new businesses, jobs and skills, as well as increasing supply chain resilience fighting climate change and reducing waste driving equal opportunity, including reducing the disability employment gap and tackling workforce inequality and promoting community integration. (For further detals see .) Commercial teams in all government departments will be expected to go on courses in implementing the new model, learning how to squeeze maximum social value from each contract. The underlying aim is for government to use its buying power to do good beyond the actual asset being purchased. In other words, it is not enough for a contractor to build a hospital that saves lives and cares for the sick; the contractor must also..
Sales data from Britain's builders' merchants indicate a solid V-shaped recovery for the industry. Builders' merchants’ sales bounced back strongly in the three months May to July, surging 38.9% ahead in value compared with February to April. Sales of landscaping material more than doubled (up 130% over the three-month period). Timber & Joinery Products followed, rising 44%. Heavy Building Materials sales were up 36%. In July 2020 sales of building materials were only 1.3% below July 2019 and some categories were ahead. Month-on-month, July sales were up 8.7% on June 2020. “These sales figures demonstrate the resilience and strength of a V-shaped recovery in the sector,” said Mike Rigby, chief executive of MRA Research which produces the monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) reports. “Builders’ merchants sell to a variety of markets, including new build, but their customers – general builders, developers, and other trades – are the backbone of the housing RMI [repair maintenance and improvement] market. The ONS [Office for National Statistics] provisional estimates for the same three months, May to July, are seemingly at odds with these figures, putting overall construction down 10.6%, with RMI falling 12.4% and private housing RMI dropping by 17.9%. “But a note of caution: we’re not comparing apples with apples”, he continued. “ONS numbers are provisional estimates based on a sample survey, and as more information comes in the estimates are revised...
Glasgow Council has kicked off a debate on the future of the city's public transport network. It has published a consultation document that addresses multiple challenges facing the city. A webinar will take place tomorrow (23rd September) and there will be series of digital workshops over the course of the forthcoming six-week consultation period. Glasgow aiming to become carbon neutral by 2030 but transport accounts for a third of the carbon emissions produced by the city. Changes are therefore required to how people get about the city if the net zero target is to be achieved. A transport policy simulator has been created, which will allow people to allocate points to the issues that matter to them and help create a picture of the city's priorities. Councillor Anna Richardson, city convener for sustainability and carbon reduction, said: “A modern, resilient and sustainable transport system is at the heart of any successful city, and Glasgow is no exception. How easily we can move around the city is of fundamental importance to people as it affects where we live, our life chances, our health and our overall climate. "The transport strategy will be key to how we move ahead as a city and will direct the investment that will help improve our environment, tackle inequalities and support the economy. There will be difficult choices to be made but the consultation document sets out..
Monthly construction output grew by 17.6% in July 2020 to £11,922m, according to latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data. July’s strong growth in output followed the record monthly growth of 23.5% in June 2020. However, even after two months of strong rises, the collapse in activity during the early stages of the pandemic meant that construction output in July was still 11.6% behind the February 2020 level. The growth in July 2020 is the third consecutive month of growth since the record monthly decline of 40.2% in April 2020, with then record monthly growth of 7.6% in May 2020 followed by record monthly growth of 23.5% in June 2020. July 2020 monthly growth of 17.6% is the second-largest monthly growth since monthly records began in January 2010. In the three months to July 2020 construction output fell by 10.6%, compared with the previous three-month period, to £3,591m. This was driven by falls in both new work (9.7%) and repair and maintenance (12.4%). The decrease in new work (9.7%) in the three months to July 2020 was because of falls in every new work sector, apart from infrastructure, which grew by 6.0%; the largest negative contributor was private new housing, which fell by 17.0%. Commenting on the new construction output figures, Clive Docwra, managing director of construction consultant McBains, said: “Today’s figures will be welcomed by the construction sector as..
Construction Leadership Council co-chairman Andy Mitchell has set out an industry wish-list for the chancellor’s forthcoming spending review. The four-page letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak makes the case in some detail for special measures across six themes. On behalf of the CLC, Andy Mitchell writes: “As you prepare for the autumn comprehensive spending review, we have considered how our sector can most effectively support the UK’s recovery. We recognise that difficult decisions will have to be made, so have focused on a small number of strategic interventions that we believe will drive growth while rebalancing opportunities and securing net zero carbon. Our recommendations form a package that will ensure employment for thousands of workers nationwide while building a better economy.” Requests made within the letter are: support for a housing refurbishment drive to improve energy efficiency (a ‘net zero carbon retrofit programme’ as the CLC puts it) more public money for post-Grenfell cladding replacement(“Government support for remediating unsafe in high-rise residential accommodation is essential to avoid the current toxic situation stifling property sales, due to zero valuations and lack of mortgage availability,” he writes.) creation of a regeneration investment bank or fund to provide cheap loans for urban regeneration schemes support for information technology. (Specifically, Mr Mitchell writes: “We ask that the UK government fund adoption of the Information Management Framework, which would enable secure, resilient data sharing across the built..
Demand for labour in the UK construction industry has recovered to 79% of pre-lockdown capacity. Data from the industry’s biggest payer of subcontractors Hudson Contract shows 117,591 payments to freelance operatives in August, compared to a peak of 149,067 in February and a trough of 80,625 in April. Managing director Ian Anfield said the bounce-back points to a V-shaped recovery for the construction sector. He said: “There is no shortage of work for highly skilled tradespeople, whether they are groundworkers, bricklayers, plasterers or plumbers. “Building sites are becoming more productive per head and the quality of work is improving because they only have the best people working on them. “Building firms have been tightening up on surplus labour because their margins are being squeezed by main contractors asking for discounts, social distancing measures on site and larger projects splitting into smaller schemes.” Anfield added the remaining proportion of people are choosing not to return to work as a result of state support schemes or seeking opportunities in other sectors. Overall, average weekly earnings for subcontractors slipped by 1.3% to £877 during the month of August, a similar drop to last year’s holiday season. Hudson is supplying statistics to the Bank of England to keep policymakers updated with real-time insights on demand for skilled labour.
The Government has stepped in to take control of fixing the cracking Hammersmith Bridge in London, which has been closed for nearly 18 months. The task force, led by transport minister Baroness Vere, will first work towards reopening the bridge for cyclists and pedestrians, before moving on to enabling the return of motor traffic. The Department for Transport has commissioned its own engineering advice on the state of the bridge after the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham said it could not afford to save the bridge from threatened collapse. Estimated costs of fixing to the 133-year-old cast iron bridge have been soaring steadily as engineers build a picture of the extent of repair needed. Shapps said there had been a lack of leadership in London on reopening this vital bridge. He said: “It’s stopped Londoners moving about easily and caused huge inconvenience to everyone, adding extra time to their commute or journeys. “We need to check the facts. Because in the time I’ve been looking at this it’s gone up from £25m to £40m, £80m, now £120m “I am going to send in engineers to find out what is actually going on and effectively take over this project to make sure we bash heads together to get this sorted.” Transport for London has been investigating building a temporary structure for pedestrians and cyclists at a cost of £27m. This would..
The government is set to invite bids for a new £12bn investment in affordable home building. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick will launch a prospectus this week inviting bids for funding for 180,000 new homes. Construction will be delivered over five years from 2021 to 2026. Nearly £7.5bn will be delivered outside London by Homes England while the Greater London Authority has been offered £4bn. Councils, housing associations and private providers will be able to start preparing their bids for funding this week. Jenrick said: “Today’s announcement represents the highest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade and is part of our comprehensive plans to build back better.” As well as delivering homes for affordable ownership, the new programme will deliver homes for Affordable and Social Rent. Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of Homes England, said: “The fund will support improved productivity in construction and unlock new economic opportunities across the country.”
The Government has hailed the formal start of HS2 full construction, highlighting a 22,000 jobs boom in the next few years. As the £45bn phase one project formally shifts from enabling works to main construction today, HS2 estimates a jobs bonanza over the next two years as main delivery contractors gear up their workforces. An estimated 400,000 supply chain contract opportunities for UK businesses will also be created during phase one of HS2. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “HS2 is at the heart of our plans to build back better – and with construction now formally underway, it’s set to create around 22,000 new jobs. “By creating hundreds of apprenticeships and thousands of skilled jobs, HS2 will fire up economic growth and help to rebalance opportunity across this country for years to come.” HS2’s Tier One construction partners based in Greater London alone will collectively recruit over 10,000 new jobs as HS2 gears up for major construction. Mace Dragados JV, Mace Dragados JV, which this month moved onto the construction site adjacent to Euston station, forecasts that it will need 3,000 workers to help deliver the capital’s new central high speed station. SCS Railways Skanska Costain Strabag JV expects to create 4,800 jobs on its Euston approaches and Northolt tunnels sections. There will be employment for around 550 previously unemployed people and 400 apprenticeships. Align JV Bouygues, Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick..
Embedding many working practices born out of the urgent challenges of the pandemic offer an opportunity for long term rises in construction productivity and safety. That is the message from an academic snapshot study of six major construction schemes that successfully adopted to safer distance working. Researchers at Loughborough University found that while overall site productivity was negatively impacted by social distancing requirements, individual and team effectiveness and productivity actually improved. They saw better and more detailed task planning, reduced waiting time between tasks, increased space and therefore less “overlap” of trades. There was also a boost in the use of technological solutions, more responsibility for individuals and less meetings. Balfour Beatty, GKR Scaffolding, Kier, Mace, Morgan Sindall, and Skanska opened their sites to researchers. One manager highlighted they had seen a 50% workforce reduction but only 30% reduction in output. Another said: “With the productivity and the new ways of thinking we believe we only need 7 ½ people to do the same as 10 people” Factors behind productivity uplift Better and more detailed task planning More space, fewer people, and less overlap of trades in the workplace improves gang/task productivity Better planning by workers e.g. preparation of workplaces re: tools and materials Less double handling of materials Fewer people ‘hanging around’ waiting to start work/tasks More streamlined worker flow due to workers staggering their start times, reducing the need to..
Tendering will begin next month for a £5bn framework to deliver new affordable homes across south and mid-Wales. The Welsh Government has set a target of building 20,000 new affordable homes by the end of the term of this parliament. While housing associations in Wales are planning to double current build rates to deliver at least 75,000 affordable homes in Wales over the next 20 years. The Welsh Procurement Alliance is planning a mega framework across 16 regions to support this house building programme. It has enlisted the London Housing Consortium to act as procurement body for the new framework. An invitation to tender is expected to be published on 11 September for the mega house building framework
Government payouts to support self-employed and furloughed construction workers have soared to over £6bn. The unprecedented level of support for construction was revealed in new HM Revenue and Customs figures to the end of July. Around £2.93bn has now been paid out to 174,000 firms making claims for staff on furlough. Over 769,000 staff have received support, with three-quarters of the industry’s eligible firms signing up to the coronavirus job retention scheme at some point in the last six months. From now on the number of staff on furlough is expected to diminish sharply as contractors bring staff back into work or opt for redundancies to slim down for predicted lower levels of activity. Since August employers have been asked to pay National Insurance and pensions contributions of furloughed staff and from September the amount of Government support to furloughed staff drops from 80% to 70% of salary. New July figures from the self-employment income support scheme reveal 884,000 construction workers received pay-outs, representing an 83% take-up rate. Pay-outs to the self-employed total just over £3.12bn, with the average claim at £3,500 being the highest for any UK sector. Construction has taken the lion’s share of self-employed claims, throwing the spotlight once again on the size of the industry’s CIS workforce. Construction accounted for a third of all payouts to the self-employed, far ahead of the single-digit percentage taken by other sectors..
The Government has released nearly £6m to kick-start design work on the long-awaited Cardiff Central station upgrade. Work on Cardiff Central station could now start in 2022, although the design process will finalise how long the scheme will take to reach construction. The existing Cardiff Central station, a Grade II listed building, was built in the early 1930s. Work will focus on improving access and ensuring platforms are suited for longer trains, boosting space and capacity for passengers. Funding has also been released to advance plans for upgraded signalling on the 241km Cambrian line from Shrewsbury Sutton Bridge Junction to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli. In addition, almost £2m has been committed for the next phase of development work on proposals to speed up journeys between Cardiff and Swansea, Chester and Llandudno Junction, and the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff, through better-aligned tracks. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The host of improvements we are delivering across Wales, from huge infrastructure upgrades to creating new and modern stations, are vital to deliver better, quicker and more convenient journeys for passengers within, into and out of Wales. “We want to transform travel for passengers and, as we build back better from COVID-19, we will ensure our investment helps to level up all parts of the UK.”
Tendering will begin next month for a £5bn framework to deliver new affordable homes across south and mid-Wales. The Welsh Government has set a target of building 20,000 new affordable homes by the end of the term of this parliament. While housing associations in Wales are planning to double current build rates to deliver at least 75,000 affordable homes in Wales over the next 20 years. The Welsh Procurement Alliance is planning a mega framework across 16 regions to support this house building programme. It has enlisted the London Housing Consortium to act as procurement body for the new framework. An invitation to tender is expected to be published on 11 September for the mega house building framework.
A new private members bill is being launched in the House of Lords today in the latest bid to toughen-up late payment legislation. The bill proposed by Labour peer Lord Mendelsohn contains a statutory limit of 30 days for paying bills. It also outlaws unfair payment practices like subcontractors having to pay fees to get on main contractors’ preferred lists of suppliers and payment of fees to get paid earlier under supply chain finance schemes. The bill also mandates the use of project bank accounts for public sector works over £500,000 allows small construction firms to refer payment disputes to the Small Business Commissioner rather than go through adjudication. Lord Mendelsohn said: “Late payment is crippling small businesses while the UK economy is crying out for investment. “By failing to tackle late payment we are starving our small businesses of the capacity to act. The recent huge escalation in outstanding payments shows that decades of promoting ‘culture change’ has only made things worse. “This Bill will tackle the issue once and for all with a package of measures that is operable, impactful and measurable.” Professor Rudi Klein, SEC Group’s CEO, said: “The construction industry is in the midst of an insolvency crisis with 2019 insolvencies likely to overtake by a wide margin the figure of 3,013 insolvencies in 2018. “The Government’s manifesto for the recent election made clear that it..
The government has launched a review of freelance tax rule changes due to come into force in April. Looming changes to IR35 rules are causing widespread concern in construction. HMRC rules are due to change from April 6 making contractors liable for determining the tax status of off-payroll professionals. Major contractors have been auditing freelancers employed via personal service companies as thousands of professionals are braced for a move back to PAYE. The government is now calling for evidence from affected individuals and businesses to ensure “smooth implementation of the reforms.” Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman said: “We recognise that concerns have been raised about the forthcoming reforms to the off-payroll working rules. “The purpose of this consultation is to make sure that the implementation of these changes in April is as smooth as possible.” Current rules allow workers to be employed via a personal service company (PSC) which determines whether IR35 tax rules should apply. That responsibility is due to shift from April to contractors who will determine employment status. Freelance workers fear they will lose out through higher tax payments while contractors will also face bigger bills from direct employment. The government is also reviewing its Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) online tool which has attracted widespread criticism.
Experienced plant operators will need to pass a ‘Competence Interview’ to keep their skills cards earned under Grandfather Rights. The new initiative means up to 50,000 operators will not have to sit formal qualifications to keep their Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) blue cards. Operators will have to pay up to £160 to undertake a competence interview – which is much lower than the cost of taking vocational qualifications. The interview initiative has been launched by training body NOCN who own the CPCS. It follows an industry-wide drive by the Construction Leadership Council to ensure all skills cards are backed-up by relevant qualifications by 2024 and carry the Construction Skills Certification Scheme logo. Graham Hasting-Evans, Managing Director of NOCN Group said: “The CLC’s objective is to drive industry improvement and its requirement that every blue cardholder must have a nationally recognised qualification to match the categories on their card at VQ Level 2 is behind this withdrawal of cards issued through Grandfather Rights. “As the leading Construction NVQ Awarding Organisation, we are able to quality assure this Competence Interview to the same level of as that expected of a Regulated Qualification, allowing operators to continue to work on-site with a renewal deadline of 2024.” Passing the Competence Interview will allow existing blue card holders to continue working on-site from 2025 without the need to either switch to a red ‘Trained Operator’..
CODE Co-Living has submitted plans for three building elements: one of 12 storeys, a second of 16 storeys, and the tallest reaching 36 storeys. At almost 117m tall, the main tower would be 16m taller than Sheffield’s current title holder and edge above a 114m tall student scheme currently under construction in Leeds – which is set to be the county’s tallest. The co-living development will provide 1,370 private studio flats for rent, available for both students and non-students. Substantial communal spaces are also incorporated, including dining and café facilities, a 50-piece gymnasium, cinema room, private study spaces and a large first floor south-facing outdoor roof terrace. The building will be operated on a build-to-rent basis, owned and operated by the developer. Nearly 140 flats will be affordable rent for non-students – more than the number of affordable homes delivered across the entire city last year. It will be located on a prominent site to the side of the Vita building, just off Charter Row and close to The Light Cinema complex. Jamie Lewis of CODE, said: “We have been looking for a site in Sheffield for several years. From the outside, it is clear that the city is going places with Heart of the City II and developments on The Moor transforming the city centre. We want to be a part of this.” He added: “We have worked hard..
Latest figures collected by the Joint Industry Board on behalf of trade body ECA and Unite the Union show the rate of RIDDOR-reportable accidents fell once again last year to 164 per 100,000 employees. No fatalities were reported during 2018 and the rate of major accidents was also lower than in 2017 at just over 52/100,000. The main causes of injury were falls, slips and trips and there was one reportable injury due to electric shock. Steve Brawley, Chief Executive of the JIB said: It's very encouraging to report that the rate of reportable accidents in our industry continues to fall, and it means that the rate of these accidents is now, remarkably, only slightly more than 10% of what it was in 2001, the year we started to collect data. The 2018 figures mean that the accident rate has fallen nearly 90% since 2001, which is a great achievement. In fact, the number of RIDDOR-reportable “ in a sample of over 13,500 operatives “ is now so low that in 2019 we will be asking companies for additional details of any â€˜over one day accidents. While these accidents are not RIDDOR-reportable, this will give us more data to work with in future.
Thousands of construction companies are facing a 20% drop in cash flow when VAT changes come into force in October. Government experts believe 150,000 firms could be hit by the reverse charge. The changes mean companies in the construction supply chain will no longer receive their 20% VAT payment when they submit bills, the VAT cash will instead be paid direct to HMRC by the customer receiving the service who will reclaim it in the normal way. One worried specialist with a Â£50m turnover told the reporters: We've estimated that for us as a tier two contractor this will have a negative impact on cash of £2.3m. If you are already running at the limit of lending and can't get more money from your bank and HMRC just plough on as they usually do you could be screwed. Tier twos are already net providers of free credit to Tier one contractors and now we won't be getting that VAT cash in from Tier ones. HMRC has introduced the change to combat missing trader fraud where companies charge and collect VAT payments then disappear owing the tax man. Payroll companies were braced to be hit hard by the changes but they have now been granted an exemption. HMRC said: Employment businesses who supply staff and who are responsible for paying the temporary workers they supply, are not subject to the reverse charge.
A revolving door of senior managers is being blamed for causing financial problems at major construction companies. Industry experts believe the merry-go-round of senior staff is often the root cause of contract problems. One senior figure told reporters: definitely a pattern we are seeing more and more of. You get these people who come in to roles like regional directors who then start chasing work to make their division look healthy to the main board. Experienced staff below them will have their reservations but no-one can really stop the new person in charge. The directors are often incentivised with bonuses for winning new work so the order books fill up with jobs which aren't purely focused on the bottom line. The nature of construction is that those schemes take years to work through and often by that time the directors have moved on to another company. They often leave behind a pile of problems but just walk into a new job. It's a bit like being a football manager. Once that's on your CV you always seem to get a new job no matter how poor your track record is. Obviously it's not the only issue causing problems in construction but it's a real factor and something which will continue to be a problem until a new generation of talent comes through. We've hired supposedly big names from major..
Officials from the Cabinet Office have written to firms to remind them of the new rules on prompt payment, which come into force this autumn. Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden, said: “Prompt payment is critical for all companies helping to deliver public services, particularly small businesses which are the backbone of our economy. “That’s why, from September, if government contractors are late with supplier payments, they could be prevented from winning public contracts until they clean up their act.” Under the new rules, suppliers who bid for government contracts above £5m per annum, who cannot show they are paying 95% of invoices within 60 days, risk being prevented from securing government contracts. The new measures follow further moves to level the playing field for small businesses, including an ambition to pay 90% of the government’s undisputed invoices from SMEs within five days. Suppliers that are not being paid on time are also able to raise complaints and concerns directly to the government through the Public Procurement Review Service.
House builders are being hampered by a shortage of construction materials including roof tiles, bricks and blocks. It has been reported that sites across the country are flagging-up shortages as an increasing problem. One industry source said: “Bricks and blocks are in short supply but the real problem is sourcing enough roof tiles. “Firms are having to look further afield to Europe for potential suppliers now because the domestic supply is stretched to the limit.” The issue was flagged-up by Taylor Wimpey in its results yesterday. The firm said: “Availability of materials is generally in line with demand but there remain pinch points with key products such as bricks, blocks and roof tiles. “The cost of these key products has risen significantly and whilst other material costs have been stable in 2017 we are experiencing more cost pressure coming into 2018. “The Group has agreed product lines and volumes with key suppliers to mitigate long lead times and shortages.” Persimmon also announced this week that it is building an in-house roof tile production plant which is expected to come on stream later this year. The UK’s largest house builder already has its own brick manufacturing plant. Persimmon said: “We recognise that with the continued increase in industry output the availability of skilled trade resources and some key materials to support further growth continues to be a constraint.”
24-hour protest against IR35 proposed A national day of action against is being proposed by a campaigner. Contractor Mike Gibson, of Changeir35.com, believes a 24-hour event should be used to protest against the of the being extended to the private sector. “[At this early] planning stage”, he said “[the event involves] a march to the Houses of Parliament, a few speeches and a petition [delivered]….to 10 Downing Street.” “The intent is to show the volume of support for and send a clear message that .” Gibson will also build and upload a directory of MPs’ responses to , to record their stance on the rule and create a log of the arguments for and against . But another IR35 critic, Graham Fisher, thinks that despite a consultation on the extension being , officials have likely already decided that it will go ahead. “Our general view is that HM Treasury and HMRC are not accepting any evidence pointing to the public sector changes being anything other than a . “If HMRC continues on their current course we should expect the same to be introduced into the ”. Fisher, who is managing director of accountants Orange Genie added: “In the unlikely event that they recognise the failure of the public sector implementation, any changes might be delayed to 2020.”