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.”

UK Government action to boost North Wales powerhouse

UK Government action to boost North Wales powerhouse

Wales Office minister Alun Cairns has hosted a transport summit with business leaders in North Wales to discuss maximising the opportunities for economic growth in the region.

The event gave businesses, the transport industry and government a platform on which to discuss the infrastructure required in North Wales and produce a joint plan to strengthen the case for rail electrification.

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb announced in November that he would make the case for North Wales rail electrification to colleagues at the heart of Government and today’s summit will helped explore exactly what is needed to make that happen.

The transport summit comes only weeks ahead of a report into rail electrification in England by the Northern England Electrification Task Force and attendees discussed the case for a joined-up rail network with English cities to boost the North Wales economy.

Alun Cairns said: “The UK Government has an economic plan for North Wales and we are determined to create the right conditions for growth. I want to link North Wales to the English cities so we can trade, grow, attract private investment, and attract the best people to the region.

Business leaders in North Wales are the driving force behind the recovery in Wales and the people that are making North Wales our own Northern Powerhouse. We need to work together to create economic growth, jobs and opportunities for hardworking people in Wales.”

200,000 homes on brownfield land set to be built

200,000 homes on brownfield land set to be built

Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis this week announced a multi-million pound fund to help provide 200,000 new homes on brownfield sites across the country.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Our efforts to get the country building again are working – housing starts are at their highest since 2007 and climbing. But we need to do more, delivering more homes while at the same time protecting our precious green belt.

That’s why today I’m taking steps that will help to make enough brownfield land available for 200,000 homes up and down the country, creating the homes and jobs communities want and need.”

Housebuilding is a key part of the government’s long-term economic plan – with starts now at their highest since 2007.

The £4.4 million fund will enable councils to bring forward brownfield sites of 100 homes or more in their area – making it quicker and easier for developers to get work started.

Unlocking development on brownfield sites

Since 2010 the government has pulled out all the stops to get the country building again – while at the same time keeping in place strong protections for green belt land.

The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear the need to prioritise building on previously-used brownfield land, while new measures make it easier to convert existing commercial, retail and agricultural buildings for residential use.

All this means more than two thirds of all new homes are now built on brownfield sites, while in the year to September planning permission was granted for 240,000 new homes.

But the government wants to go further – and has set a clear ambition to have local development orders granting planning permission for new homes in place on over 90% of suitable brownfield land by 2020.

This will let developers get planning permission quickly – getting workers on site quicker, and homes that communities want built.

New funding to boost growth and jobs in Gloucestershire

New funding to boost growth and jobs in Gloucestershire

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has visited Gloucestershire to announce how £15 million of investment will help create jobs and growth in the county.

The announcement is the next phase of Local Growth Deal funding which will help create 6,000 new jobs and provide 400 new homes in Gloucestershire.

The announcement comes after the government and all 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships agreed to expand the growth deals that were struck last July.

This funding is devolved from central government to Local Enterprise Partnerships and will fund the projects to be delivered by local authorities, businesses, colleges and universities.

They will use it to help train young people, create thousands of jobs, build new homes and start hundreds of infrastructure projects, including transport improvements and superfast broadband networks.

During his visit to Gloucestershire the Transport Secretary saw how multi-million pound funding will regenerate the Blackfriars and Quayside area in the heart of Gloucester and promote Gloucestershire’s renewable energy, engineering and nuclear skills along with other projects spanning aviation and retail.

Patrick McLoughlin said: “This £15 million funding will make a lasting improvement to Gloucestershire’s economy. Providing investment for the county to drive its own growth and job creation forms a major part of this government’s long-term economic plan.

The projects will provide the businesses, housing and skills that will build on the economic strengths already evident in Gloucestershire.”

The Growth Deals – which see a total of £1 billion allocated to local partnerships – bring funding for infrastructure, housing, and other projects together in a single pot and put directly into the hands of local authorities and businesses.

They can then invest based on their knowledge of what is needed in their area to maximise the potential for economic growth.

Galliford Try secures extra contracts worth £72m

Galliford Try  1

Galliford Try announced today that it has been successfully appointed to four new major contracts in the extra care and affordable housing sectors, worth a combined £72 million.

Partnerships has signed contracts with the ExtraCare Charitable Trust (ECCT) for its new £36 million retirement village set in five acres of land on the former MG Rover plant in Longbridge, south west of Birmingham.

The new development will create 260 apartments (105 one-bed and 155 two-bed apartments) for the over 55s and feature a village centre that includes a village hall, bar, restaurant, gym, IT suite, hair and beauty salon and shop.

Secondly, financial close has been reached on the £18 million scheme to build the new 135-bed ‘Village 135′ extra care facility for Wythenshawe Community Housing Group.

The project consists of two sites connected by a glass-enclosed pedestrian walkway and will provide a range of facilities for residents including a salon, cafeteria and main kitchen, a winter garden and roof terrace with planting area.

The scheme will provide a mix of 66 apartments for affordable rent, 39 apartments for shared ownership and 30 apartments for outright sale.

One Housing Group has appointed Galliford Try to two new contracts that will deliver the Protheroe House (£9.2 million) and Pretoria Road (£9 million) developments in North London.

The Protheroe House scheme will create a 50-bed extra care facility in Haringey including a large communal garden, roof terrace, hobby room and well-being centre as part of the development.

The Pretoria Road project will see the construction of 44 one-bed and eight two-bed properties in Hackney. Eight of the homes are specifically designed to be dementia friendly.

Galliford Try Executive Chairman Greg Fitzgerald said: “Galliford Try’s track record in extra care developments is second to none and we are delighted that the ExtraCare Charitable Trust, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group and One Housing Group have placed their trust in us to deliver the high quality facilities their customers deserve.”