European investment to support economic growth

Welsh Government

Wales and Ireland are set to benefit from a unique £80 million European programme that will help strengthen economic links between the two countries.

The investment for the Ireland Wales programme 2014-2020 was announced today by the Welsh Government Minister for Finance and Government Business, Jane Hutt, during a meeting of the National Assembly for Wales’ Enterprise and Business Committee.

The programme will see Welsh and Irish partners working together on collaborative and innovative projects in the areas of innovation, climate change, cultural and natural resources, heritage and tourism.

Welsh Government Finance Minister, Jane Hutt, said:”I’m delighted to announce that the European Commission has agreed in principle a new £80 million Ireland-Wales Co-operation programme, with formal approval expected in the coming weeks.

Wales is perfectly located for doing business with Ireland and provides a link to the UK market and Europe beyond.

There are also strong synergies between Irish aspirations and those of the Welsh Government on driving sustainable economic growth and jobs for our two Nations.

We will continue to work together to explore effective co-operation opportunities in an increasingly global economic and, indeed, social environment.”

Managed by the Welsh Government in partnership with Irish authorities, including the Southern Regional Assembly and Irish Government, people and communities within the south-east region of Ireland and the north and west of Wales areas will benefit from the EU funding programme.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr Brendan Howlin, said that: “This investment will, once more, further underline the increasing importance we all attach to the growing collaboration across the Ireland-Wales maritime border and will allow us to build on the considerable achievements of previous and current programmes”.

Apprentices rebuild town’s historic buildings and boost growth

Apprentices rebuild town's historic buildings and boost growth

A group of construction students have renovated two abandoned Luton properties – including an iconic hat factory – under a revolutionary training scheme backed by celebrity builder Tommy Walsh.

Engineering Real Results, the largest trades training organisation in the UK, has spent months buying up neglected and derelict properties in a multi-million pound move which gives young tradespeople work opportunities and essential skills in the trades.

The scheme allows students to comply with Government rules which demand apprentices carry out 100 hours practical training.

The rule has forced apprentices onto the streets begging for unpaid work for decades. Now they can complete their qualifications in weeks rather than years.

Dr Jan Telensky, the financial angel behind the scheme said there have been thousands of new construction jobs this year as builders attempt to meet Government targets – but apprentices who spent years learning to become plumbers, gas fitters, bricklayers and electrician have been missing out because of the legislation.

He said: “Our own apprentices were losing out. This new scheme, New Vocational Quickstart, involves renovating properties across the country and enables them to get there NVQ in just weeks instead of years.”

The company has also been buying properties in Watford, Cardiff, Southampton, Featherstone in Yorkshire, Livingstone, West Lothian, Cardiff, Basildon and Wolverhampton.

And in an unprecedented move to help young families get onto the housing ladder Dr Telensky hopes to offer some of the properties for sale at discounted prices to the students who worked on them.

A spokesman for Brighter Homes, part of the Engineering Real Results organisation, set up to supply practical training for students, said: “We are committed to getting students into work and if we can help them get onto the housing ladder too that would be brilliant.”

Chairman of BPEC, the NVQ certification organisation and charity, Frank Glover said: “For too long you could study to get into the industry and then you had to find an employer and that wasn’t always easy. The red tape creates a blockage in the labour market. But this scheme is a fantastic solution, it allows people to get real hands-on experience.”

Paul Senior, chairman of the National Federation of Builders, also backed the scheme, saying: “Anything to provide training and experience to young construction students is a very good thing. The industry is very dependent on up-to-date skills and experience and we welcome innovative solutions such as Engineering Real Results.”

Willmott Dixon helps residential development project

Willmott Dixon

Willmott Dixon has followed up its recent deal to cross-fund Brentford FC’s new stadium by developing 1,000 homes with a similar arrangement that will allow a Hertfordshire school to build much needed new facilities.

The company was chosen by Cornerstone for a deal with Cheshunt School to cross-fund a range of enhancements by developing 88 homes within the school site in Broxbourne, subject to the necessary planning consents.

The homes will be created by Prime Place, Willmott Dixon’s private sale brand, and provide a mix of apartments and a range of family homes of up to four bedrooms.

Proceeds raised by the housing development will be used to enhance the school with modern facilities such as a new technology block providing better accommodation to teach science, design & technology, creative arts and ICT.

The school will also have a remodelled main classroom block to create a new entrance lobby, staircases and new circulation route, plus an updated admin block to link with the new technology facility.

The additional scope includes improving the sports fields with new changing facilities, while a second phase will see the provision of a new school and community sports hall with dedicated entrance and parking.

It’s another example of how Willmott Dixon’s development model is delivering new public facilities at no cost to the taxpayer. The company is also working with Westminster City Council to create two new leisure facilities at no cost to the council by cross-funding them with over 100 new homes.

Help to boost small house builders

The Scottish Government

A £30 million scheme in Scotland will launch for people to buy new homes from small and medium sized house builders that will boost the construction sector.

The Scottish Government’s Help to Buy (Scotland) Small Developers scheme will spread support more widely across the housebuilding industry by helping buyers who want a new property built by one of around 170 smaller developers.

Under Help to Buy, the Scottish Government takes an equity stake of between 10% and 20% of the value of the property which can be repaid at any time.

4,100 homes have been bought through Help To Buy (Scotland) in the last 15 months. The additional £30 million in 2015-16, on top of the original £100 million, will help a further 750 homebuyers.

House builders have to register with the scheme – currently around 170 are classed as small builders and 20 are defined as large builders.

During a visit to a new development in Leven, Fife, under construction by Campion Homes, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:“The Scottish Government is supporting the housebuilding industry and Help to Buy (Scotland) is one of the creative ways we are stimulating new development, opening up the market to thousands of house buyers.

Over 4,100 homes have been bought in the last 15 months, many from larger builders, with smaller and medium-sized developers seeing a smaller share of sales.

So this new support of £30 million will be ringfenced to support purchases from 170 smaller building companies that develop thousands of quality homes across the country.

These are often in remote locations and keep much needed jobs and skills in rural areas, while having a positive knock on impact on the wider economy.”

New funding boost to repair London’s low cost homes

New funding boost to repair London's low cost homes

Thousands of aging council homes across the capital are set to be renovated and repaired, thanks to a £145 million funding boost from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

From replacing dilapidated roofs, doors and windows, to rewiring, and updating outmoded bathrooms and kitchens, the funds will be used on internal and external repairs to help improve living conditions for thousands of local authority residents, across nine London boroughs.

Improvements will soon be underway in Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Haringey, Tower Hamlets, Camden, Lambeth, Kingston upon Thames, Southwark and Sutton, with the funds secured by the Mayor through the Government’s ‘Decent Homes Backlog Funding ‘ programme.

In addition to these borough improvements, the Mayor’s RE:NEW support team is ensuring plans are in place to make council-owned homes as energy efficient as possible.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “As London’s population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, and we strive to double the number of new homes being built across the capital, maintaining the quality of London’s essential existing housing stock is vital.

These improvement works, in those homes in most urgent need of repair, are essential to ensure a decent quality of life for thousands of Londoners.”

Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis said: “The Government is giving London this significant funding boost, which will improve the lives of thousands of council tenants by bringing their homes up to a Decent Standard.

And the changes we have brought in to protect leaseholders will help tenants by ensuring the repairs on their home get done without landlords imposing unreasonable charges.”

The £145 million funding is in addition to the £821 million share of the Decent Homes programme, agreed with the government and committed to 14 boroughs during 2011-15 to help transform social housing in the worst conditions.

Plans for £75m Salford residential scheme unveiled

Plans for £75m Salford residential scheme unveiled

Plans for an ambitious residential project in Salford have been unveiled, paving the way for new employment opportunities in the construction industry.

Called Adelphi Wharf, the development will be completed over three phases, comprising 580 apartments and town houses on the banks of the River Irwell.

The scheme has been valued at £75 million with the first phase hoped to start in April and be completed in August 2016.

The 450,000 sq ft development to be known Adelphi Wharf will include an onsite gymnasium and provide underground parking for residents.

Local partner Fortis Developments will deliver the project, subject to planning permission, with its letting arm managing the blocks.

Sales director at Knight Knox, Martin Copeland, said: “2015 is set to be a very exciting year for Salford, due to significant investment into the city’s regeneration.

We’re thrilled to be providing the area with high quality residential property and valuable investment opportunities, whilst boosting our portfolio with such a distinctive scheme.”

Director of Fortis, Kieran Moore, said: “Fortis Developments has worked closely with Salford City Council and Urban Vision to ensure that the design and visual impact of Adelphi Wharf complements the area, whilst incorporating modern architecture along the city’s water front.”

25,000 new businesses supported by Start Up Loans

25,000 new businesses supported by Start Up Loans

The government’s Start Up Loan scheme has hit another milestone as the 25,000th business loan is approved, taking the total amount lent to new firms to nearly £130 million.

The scheme provides financial support and mentoring to entrepreneurs looking to set up their own business.

According to the Start Up Loan Company, more than 32,000 new jobs have been generated as a result of the scheme since it was launched in 2012.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and supporting them to get off the ground and create jobs and opportunities for hardworking people is a key part of our long-term economic plan.

That’s what our Start Up Loans are all about – it’s great news that 25,000 loans have now been issued, giving people who want to work hard and get on the tools and confidence to turn their entrepreneurial vision into a reality.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The Start Up Loans scheme is enabling thousands of entrepreneurs across the country to realise their ambition and set up their own business.

Helping businesses to access the funds they need to grow is key to our recovery and through schemes like Start Up Loans the government is supporting serious volumes of lending to small and medium sized businesses.”

James Caan CBE, chairman of the Start Up Loans Company, said: “The creation of 25,000 new businesses is a significant achievement and everyone involved – the government, the Start Up Loans Company, and the loan recipients themselves, should be immensely proud.”

Balfour Beatty gets £32m Liverpool job

Balfour Beatty gets £32m Liverpool job

Balfour Beatty has been awarded the £32 million contract to build Baltic Triangle, a three-tower residential development in Liverpool city centre for developer Neptune Investments.

The two year project will see Balfour Beatty delivering 324 new apartments across three separate towers, which will be thirteen, ten and eight storeys in height respectively.

The project will also involve the creation of commercial space, a gym and underground car parking for 358 cars while helping the local construction industry.

Balfour Beatty will continue construction on a building previously begun by another developer, strengthening the existing basement and helping to reduce delivery time and costs by using pre-cast wall panels.

Balfour Beatty will recruit apprentices to the project and utilise its established links with Liverpool John Moores University to provide opportunities for students.

Jon Adams, Balfour Beatty Managing Director for Northern Major Projects, said: “Balfour Beatty has extensive experience in delivering high-end residential schemes and of working in Liverpool, where we have recently delivered the Liverpool One and Aloft Hotel developments.

We have a fifteen year relationship with Neptune Investments and we look forward to working with them to deliver this exciting new £32m development in the heart of the Liverpool docklands.”

Coventry University appoints BAM for £37m building

Coventry University has awarded the £37 million contract to build its flagship new Science and Health Building to BAM Construction.

BAM Construction are due to start work on the building, which will bring together the Faculty of Health and Life Science’s teaching and research facilities into a ‘superlab’, in February.

The five-storey, 120,000 sq ft building on Much Park Street in Coventry’s city centre is due for completion in 2017.

The modern multi-disciplinary building will house world-class teaching and simulation facilities with state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories.

A mock operating theatre, fully-equipped ambulance and a community house to test the latest assistive living technologies will be among the health simulation features.

A purpose-built laboratory for teaching and research in biological and analytic sciences will sit alongside a strength and conditioning room. A running track, sports therapy clinic and facilities for food and environmental sciences will also be part of the complex.

Professor Guy Daly, Executive Dean of Coventry University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, said:”We are delighted to announce that the contract to build the new Science and Health Building has been awarded to BAM.

“The new building is a significant development in our future as a leading modern university, providing world-class teaching, research and simulation facilities for our health and life science students.”

New wave of investment for enterprise zones

Developers are building a record number of offices and industrial premises in enterprise zones across the country, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced yesterday.

These are some of the first major investments of their kind since the downturn and show the increased confidence developers have in many local economies.

Communities will receive a big boost from these developments which will bring about more jobs on zones and provide many knock-on benefits for people living nearby – from new services and infrastructure through to new business opportunities.

More than £230 million has been committed to 31 projects across the enterprise zone programme so far, meaning at least 1.8 million square feet of new speculative office and industrial space will be rolled out by 2018 – the equivalent of more than 23 Wembley football pitches.

Around 250,000 square feet of that work has already been completed with developers pushing ahead to finish a further 500,000 square feet by summer, paving the way for up to 2,200 jobs.

The Communities Secretary made the announcement as he marked the completion of a £40 million building called 2 Glass Wharf at Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone. Built without a business initially lined up to move in, the iconic building will be welcoming its first tenant, global accountancy giants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “Enterprise zones are a great place to do business. That’s why these developers are channelling millions of pounds into these investments.

It proves that our long-term economic plan is on track, helping deliver the kind of world-class infrastructure that attracts top companies.

And that’s great news for the economy and communities because it’s these kinds of businesses that will create jobs for hard-working people.”

Enterprise zones are central to the government’s plans to rebalance the economy, offering world-class infrastructure and top-class growth incentives for companies, across a range of key sectors including aviation, manufacturing and life sciences.