Bouygues UK confirms two new Welsh contracts

Bouygues UK confirms two new Welsh contracts

Bouygues UK has announced details of a further two contracts in Wales – adding to its recent tally of award wins in the western region over the last couple of months.

The contractor confirmed details of a new deal, worth just over £21.1m, with The City & Council of Swansea; for the internal and external refurbishment of 238 flats spread out across two high rise towers and a residential block, in the districts of Sketty and Penlan.

The construction company won the contract under the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework and is collaborating once again with architects Stride Treglown and engineers Aecom. Work is due to begin on site shortly and the project is scheduled for completion in April 2017.

Separately, and following news of the Taylor Wimpey deal in London, Bouygues UK has now added a second 150-home development to its order book; this time in the Welsh capital, Cardiff.

Bouygues UK confirmed details of the new scheme which will provide a combination of 146 flats and 12 townhouses as part of the affordable housing element of a Section 106 agreement, governing the wider regeneration of the International Sports Village site in the Cardiff Bay area.

Bouygues UK’s Managing Director for Western, Chris Stevens, said: “We are winning repeat business and leveraging our strong credentials with clients and local authorities in the area to secure new contracts, based on our reputation for delivering high quality and sustainable schools, educational facilities and mixed-use housing schemes.

These recent wins underline Bouygues UK’s continued commitment to reinforcing our presence here in the region and the value we place on its potential for future business. Going forward, we also intend to expand our work in the West to increase our market share and further strengthen our position and brand on a wider, regional basis.”

Work go-ahead for £440m Westgate Oxford centre

Work go-ahead for £440m Westgate Oxford centre

The Westgate Oxford Alliance today confirmed that it will proceed with work on its £440 million Westgate Oxford development, with preparatory works to begin imminently and construction set to start in spring 2015.

The development is expected to generate up to 1,000 construction jobs with a further 3,400 retail positions opening up once the centre is completed in 2017.

The announcement follows more than four years of preparation, extensive public consultation and the approval of a reserved matters application by Oxford City Council. It also coincides with several leasing commitments from leading national and international retailers.

Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “This is an important day for the city of Oxford. As a key regeneration project for the city, Westgate Oxford will not only create many new jobs, it will also support the whole region including existing businesses, by increasing footfall in the city – I am delighted to hear that construction will begin imminently.”

The joint venture, in the heart of Oxford city centre, is between Land Securities and The Crown Estate is due for completion in autumn 2017.

The highly anticipated shopping centre development will see the existing Westgate in the west end of Oxford transformed to include over 100 new stores, 25 restaurants and cafes, a boutique cinema, roof top terrace dining and a wealth of new public spaces.

With Oxford already topping the wish list of cities in which retailers want to secure space (PROMIS), today’s announcement will be welcomed as a rare opportunity for retailers and leisure operators to reach a broad audience in a truly historic setting.

Robert Noel, Chief Executive for Land Securities said: “Today we’ve taken a significant step towards creating our vision for a world-class retail and leisure destination in Oxford, having worked hard with our customers and the community to shape the right scheme.

Alongside our growing list of customers, we are committed to creating a new Westgate Oxford which not only complements the city’s beauty and heritage status but also enhances its global reputation as a great place to spend time.”

Paul Clark, Director of Investment and Asset Management at The Crown Estate said: “This significant milestone underscores our commitment to this ambitious redevelopment which will totally transform the retail and leisure experience in Oxford and stand out as one of the best schemes of its kind in the UK.”

£20m fund to keep homes warm

£20m fund to keep homes warm

An additional £20 million will be invested to cut fuel poverty and improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s housing, Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil confirmed this week.

£6 million is earmarked for home energy efficiency programmes that will support measures such as solid wall, cavity or loft insulation.

An additional £14 million will be invested in low cost home energy efficiency loans available to households in the private sector to supplement existing grant schemes to help install energy efficiency measures.

This additional funding will take the Scottish Government‘s investment to tackle fuel poverty and boost energy efficiency over the three years 2013/14 to 2015/16 to around £300 million.

Details of the loan schemes will be announced in due course.

Mr Neil said: “This Government is determined to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency head on, as this additional £20 million investment for energy efficiency measures demonstrates.

Fuel costs have risen six times faster than incomes since 2003. In 2013, fuel prices rose by seven per cent, pushing more people into fuel poverty. The fact that this is happening in an energy-rich country is outrageous.

Given the recent reductions in energy costs, all energy providers must implement price cuts now and not wait until the Spring.

This additional funding means we have allocated over half a billion pounds since 2009 to make Scotland’s homes more energy efficient”.

Over 700,000 households have benefited from measures like new boilers or insulation targeted in particular at those in or at risk of fuel poverty.”

Plans approved for Cornwall’s custom build housing project

Plans approved for Cornwall's custom build housing project

People can soon design their dream home at one of England’s biggest dedicated custom build sites after proposals to bring nearly 150 new and affordable homes to Cornwall were backed by planners.

Cornwall Council‘s approval of Carillion-Igloo and Coastline Housing’s planning applications to build 144 homes beside the Heartlands regeneration project at Trevenson Park, Pool, enables construction work and marketing to start later this year.

The development includes 54 Custom Build plots, which will offer people from across Cornwall the chance to design and build their own home with a manufacturer chosen from Carillion-igloo’s specialist panel.

This site is one of the Homes and Communities Agency‘s biggest Custom Build projects and is set up by Government to boost house-building by unlocking a wave of new homes designed and built by their owners.

Coastline Housing will also develop 90 new and affordable homes, which includes a well-designed block of 23 flats for older people overlooking the Heartlands Park.

It is estimated that around 200 full time equivalent annual jobs will be created by the construction work, with the majority of jobs going to people who live in Cornwall.

HCA area manager Paul Britton said: “This project clearly demonstrates one of the many approaches we are taking to provide more opportunities for people to get the homes they can afford in Cornwall.

Custom Build offers people a more accessible route onto the housing ladder whilst providing an opportunity for people to design the home of their dreams. We know there is high demand for more homes in Cornwall, which has a history of ‘self build’ housing.

This scheme from Carillion-igloo and Coastline will make a positive contribution. I look forward to seeing the new homes come forward on this important and exciting site.”

Carillion-igloo head of custom build housing Jon Sawyer said: “Carillion-igloo are very excited about securing planning for 54 Custom Build homes in Cornwall, which is an important milestone for this project and the custom build housing sector as a whole.

We are grateful for the support of our partners HCA and Coastline and the pragmatism of Cornwall Council in adopting a new approach to approving the appearance of homes, the first of its type in the UK.

We will now be working hard to make the first serviced plots available in the spring and we aim to see the first custom build homes coming out of the ground by the end of 2015.”

Balfour Beatty gets £800m Thames Water contract

Balfour Beatty

Balfour Beatty announced this week that its joint venture with Skanska has signed a five year contract with Thames Water, with an option to extend for a further five years.

The initial £800 million contract covers the AMP 6 regulatory period, running from April 2015 to March 2020, paving the way for new jobs and economic boost in the trades.

Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty Group Chief Executive, said: “Through our joint venture and by collaborating in the Alliance, we bring our deep expertise to bear on this major investment in water infrastructure.

This contract will help to ensure the resilience of the vital water infrastructure in Greater London and the Thames Valley for future generations. Balfour Beatty is committed to support Thames Water in delivering on its commitments to its customers and the regulator.”

As a one third partner in the SMB joint venture, the value to Balfour Beatty is approximately £265 million over the initial five years. This follows on from a two year Early Contractor Involvement phase that started in March 2013.

The SMB joint venture is providing water asset solutions as part of Thames Water‘s ‘super-alliance’, known as eight2O.

AMP6 involves creating and maintaining the necessary water infrastructure across the Thames Water’s network, including pipes, pumping stations and water treatment works, in order to meet commitments to Thames Water’s customers and the water regulator, Ofwat.

Enterprise Zones to benefit from £40m funding injection

Businesses to benefit from Enterprise Zone Business Rates Scheme

Businesses moving to Enterprise Zones will benefit from improved access and even better facilities after a funding boost of more than £40 million from the Government.

The money is part of the Government’s £12 billion Growth Deals to fire up local economies and is on top of the £195 million that benefited Enterprise Zones during the first round of deals last July.

It means a total of 17 Enterprise Zones have benefited from more than £235 million through the programme.

Growth Deals are a revolution in the way our economy is run. For the first time ever, infrastructure, housing, and other funding has been brought together in a single pot, and put directly into the hands of local authorities and businesses to invest with their knowledge of what is needed in their area to maximise their potential economic growth.

Local Growth Minister Penny Mordaunt said: “Enterprise Zones are playing a vital role in driving forward our economy. That is why we have invested an extra £40 million to make sure these sites continue to flourish and attract the kind of top-class companies that create high quality jobs.

Through the Government’s £12 billion Growth Deals we are placing the power and money in the hands of the people who know how to spend it best and investing in projects which will make a real difference to local communities.”

Enterprise Zones are central to the Government’s plans to rebalance the economy. The 24 enterprise zones are at the heart of the Government’s ambitious long-term economic plan. They have created over 12,500 jobs, attracted 434 new businesses and generated over £2 billion worth of private investment since opening for business.

North Sea job matching action planned

The Scottish Government

Action to boost the impact of the current oil price on jobs and economic growth was discussed at the first meeting of the Energy Jobs Taskforce in Aberdeen last week.

Lena Wilson, chair of the Taskforce said: “There was an overwhelming sense of determination and collaboration from the members of the taskforce at today’s first meeting.

“Whilst there’s recognition that the industry both at home and internationally has major challenges ahead, the group has absolute confidence in the strength and resilience of the sector and is acutely aware of the future opportunities this industry will provide.

“The aim of this taskforce is to safeguard the decades of skills and experience built up whilst helping to put in place the most effective and efficient operating environment for the industry to ensure it is even stronger and internationally competitive as the oil price begins to recover.

There were some great ideas shared at today’s meeting and there will be swift progress in turning these into tangible actions. We have a helpline available for those facing redundancy, will be launching an online presence and will be delivering a large employability event in Aberdeen in the near future.

There’s plenty that can be done to reduce impact and further develop Scotland’s strength in the sector by working shoulder to shoulder through this tough period and today’s first meeting was very helpful in setting the foundation for what’s to come.”

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing welcomed the first meeting of the Energy Jobs Taskforce, saying: “The calibre and breadth of expertise of the Energy Jobs Taskforce members shows that we have the right people for the job round the table, working together to help those who will feel the pinch in falling oil prices the most.

“There is a real risk that the current fall in the oil price will lead to the premature decommissioning of assets and the loss of highly skilled workers. The Scottish Government, along with public sector partners, industry representative and commercial companies are doing what we can and within this context, I think it is vital that the UK Government acts now.

I welcome the constructive discussions and actions that have come out of the first meeting and I am confident that the Taskforce, chaired by Lena Wilson, will deliver tangible help to those facing redundancy.”

Crossrail works set to start at Shenfield and Brentwood

Crossrail works set to start at Shenfield and Brentwood

Network Rail is set to begin work for the Crossrail programme at Brentwood and Shenfield stations that will create new jobs and boost the trades.

Network Rail will gain access to the railway embankment behind Friars Avenue and begin preparatory work. Starting around Monday 9 February, de-vegetation will begin to clear land for a new platform at the station and to strengthen the embankment.

The clearance is expected to last around three weeks and will be kept to an absolute minimum. Letters have been sent to all the nearby properties and representatives from Network Rail have visited residents to make sure that they know about the works.

Network Rail is in contact with residents to see whether additional trees can be planted at 1a to 25 Friars Avenue to mitigate the impact of tree removal along the railway.

To keep disruption for residents to a minimum, the majority of the work will take place during week days. However, a small amount of vegetation close to the overhead power lines can only be removed when trains are not running, so will be taken out over the weekend.

All work must take place within the acceptable noise limits set out as part of the Crossrail Act and a number of measures will be taken to ensure that any noise is kept to a minimum.

It is expected that no more than two lorries a day will be required for the de-vegetation works. Traffic marshals will co-ordinate all traffic and pedestrian movements and clear signage will be installed for lorries, cars and pedestrians. Lorries will enter Friars Avenue car park via Hutton Road and Friars Avenue.

The Leader of Brentwood Borough Council, Councillor Barry Aspinell, said: “We have been working hard with the Crossrail Team to make sure that any inconvenience to local residents and traders is kept to an absolute bare minimum.

Although the Crossrail Act does mean we have a limited role, we have been very proactive at sharing our local knowledge and experience with Crossrail and the other organisations involved to address key issues that concern our residents and businesses.”

Matthew White, Surface Director at Crossrail said: “Network Rail and its contractors will be taking all possible measures to make sure that any disruption to local people will be kept to an absolute minimum during the works at Shenfield and Brentwood.

Crossrail will transform rail services for local people providing new rolling stock, more frequent and reliable services and the ability to travel right through central London without having to change trains.”

Forecast: Construction to Grow in 2015

Forecast Construction to Grow in 2015

Construction output is forecast to increase 5.3% in 2015 and 17.8% by 2018 according to the latest forecasts from the Construction Products Association.

On predicted growth rates, construction will continue to top its pre-recession peak within 18 months, before growth is expected to slow due to election uncertainty and capacity constraints.

Dr Noble Francis, Economics Director of the Association, said: “Last year’s recovery in construction was driven primarily by 18.0% growth in private house building. This year, industry growth will be more broad-based as further a further increase of 10.0% in private house building is expected to be supported by 8.0% growth in commercial offices and 7.9% growth in new infrastructure.

Growth rates across most of the industry are expected to slow in 2016 and 2017 because of uncertainty regarding the General Election in May, which could give pause to both contract awards and industry investment. Whilst this is unlikely to impact construction activity this year, due to the lag between contracts and activity on the ground, it may have an adverse effect on output in both 2016 and 2017.”

Dr Francis added: “Private house building growth is expected to slow from 10.0% this year to 5.0% in 2016 and 3.0% in 2017. In addition, activity in the commercial offices sector, which is still 39.5% below the pre-recession peak, is forecast to grow 7.0% in 2016 and 5.0% in 2017. Growth in total construction output, therefore, is expected to slow to 4.2% in 2015 and 3.4% in 2016.

The industry also has concerns regarding capacity constraints in the medium-term. Whilst output in the sector during 2014 was 8.5% below the level seen in 2007, overall capacity last year was not a key issue.

However, construction output is forecast to surpass the pre-recession peak during the next 18 months, this despite the industry having lost 343,000 jobs and considerable materials capacity in the seven years following the financial crisis.

As a result, it is essential that there is significant investment in UK construction skills and manufacturing over the next few years if the growth forecast is to be achieved.”

Lancashire Uni plans £200m Preston campus upgrade

Lancashire Uni plans £200m Preston campus upgrade

The University of Central Lancashire has unveiled a 10-year development plan which will transform its Preston campus and boost the local economy.

The University’s vision over the next 10 years is to create a unified, sustainable and welcoming campus which will enhance the experience for all those visiting the University.

The new campus will integrate seamlessly with the rest of the City, benefitting current and future generations of students, staff, visitors and the wider community.

Subject to planning approval, the first stage of the development will see the construction of the £30 million-plus Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) commencing in January 2016.

Simultaneously, work will begin on the creation of an iconic gateway to the University. At its heart will be a remodelled Adelphi roundabout with the construction of a new public space, drawing together the University and the City.

UCLan’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry Kelleher said: “Over the coming decade we will invest in the region of £200 million to create a world-class campus environment which blends new facilities with the creation of public, green spaces to encourage people from all over the City to visit and enjoy the campus.”

The project is also hoped to spark a major focus on regeneration and business investment in the University quarter with wider benefits for Preston and beyond.

The Vice-Chancellor added: “Developing a skilled workforce which meets local, national and international needs is central to our development plans. Future investments like the Engineering Innovation Centre will reflect that goal, helping to create jobs, kick-start regeneration and attract inward investment into the City.

Our vision for the future of the University is shared and supported by our project partners Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council. We also want to listen to and work with our neighbours and all the community, to ensure the City and region benefit from the tremendous cultural and economic opportunities that our plan will create.”