£8.3m to boost West Midlands transport links

£8.3m to boost West Midlands transport linksThe Department for Transport has agreed to fund a new bridge which will improve links to 3 of the West Midlands’ economic powerhouses, Baroness Kramer announced this week.

Building work on the new A45 South Bridge in Solihull can start after the government agreed to provide over £8 million in funding. The new bridge will significantly improve a transport link that carries 50,000 vehicles a day.

The structure will directly serve Birmingham International Airport, the National Exhibition Centre, Jaguar Land Rover and other businesses which generate over £2.5 billion per year and support over 80,000 jobs.

Baroness Kramer said: “The A45 serves important sites including Birmingham International Airport, the NEC, and employers such as Jaguar Land Rover. This new bridge will reduce congestion and improve safety, and include new pedestrian and cyclist facilities.

“The £8.3 million the government is putting into this project is part of our wider economic plan of investment in our local and national infrastructure to help drive economic growth.”

The new bridge will replace the existing 150 year old structure carrying the westbound carriageway of the A45 over the West Coast Main Line.

It will create an extra westbound running lane and an improved access slip road to Birmingham International Airport.

A temporary bridge will be created during the work, allowing the route to remain open throughout.

The main works are due to start in January 2015 with completion in August 2016. The department will provide up to £8.3 million towards the full project cost of £12 million.

New infrastructure guarantee for Speyside renewable energy plan

Scottish Wind FarmsThe Government has today confirmed to guarantee bonds worth up to £48.5 million for the Speyside Biomass Power project located in Moray, Scotland.

The biomass power station will supply electricity to power more than 20,000 homes and provide green energy for one of Scotland’s most iconic whisky distilleries, Macallan.

The world famous distillery will use the heat generated by the plant in the form of steam, a critical component of the distillation process.

Together, the carbon saving equates to taking over 18,000 cars off the road. The project will also create 123 jobs (100 in peak construction and 23 permanent) and support one of Scotland’s most important export industries.

The total funding required is £74 million, with the balance provided by John Laing and the Green Investment Bank who will make respective £13.5 million and £13 million equity investments in the project.

This is the latest project to be supported by the UK Guarantees scheme where the UK government act as a loan guarantor to major infrastructure investments across energy, transport, communications, waste and housing.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rt Hon. Danny Alexander MP said: “The Speyside guarantee is fantastic news for Scotland’s economic future.

“It will power thousands of homes with clean energy, and also support the whisky industry, a cornerstone of our economy, which brings in billions for Scotland and employs over 10,000 people.

“Today, over £1 billion of infrastructure projects have now been brought forward as a result of the UK guarantees scheme and £36 billion worth of projects are pre qualified.

“Our action is creating the right conditions for more investment in our infrastructure and helping to build a stronger economy.”

Sandwell Council appoints Keepmoat to improve hundreds of homes

Sandwell Council appoints Keepmoat to improve hundreds of homesKeepmoat has been appointed to carry out a major programme of improvements on behalf of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council that will boost the building trades.

Three high-rise blocks of flats in Smethwick, known as The Crofts, will receive an £11 million makeover as part of the partnership between Keepmoat and the council. The blocks will get new roofs, energy efficient external cladding and residents’ flats will benefit from new windows and balconies.

The 270 homes which will benefit from the improvements, sit on a main arterial route between Birmingham and West Bromwich.

Neil Baxter, Keepmoat’s Regional Director for the West Midlands, said: “We’re looking forward to working closely with Sandwell over the next two years to help the council deliver its ambitions to improve the quality of local housing for residents.

“Improving the standard of housing is crucial for delivering community regeneration and this comprehensive programme of work will make a real difference to people’s homes.”

The works are set to change the external of the buildings with a refreshed look, which will not only improve the aesthetics for the community but also help to reduce fuel bills for the residents and increase the lifespan of the buildings themselves.

The wider community is also set to benefit from the two year scheme with employment and training opportunities created by Keepmoat.

As part of this commitment there is provision for 12 apprenticeships as well as a graduate position and work experience placements for over 16s looking to kick start their career in the construction industry. As a result of these works a further five jobs will also be created on site, which will again be recruited locally.

Sandwell Council leader Darren Cooper said: “This refurbishment is one of a number of regeneration projects the council is delivering with our partners to boost the area and will complement nearby new build developments as well as the recently announced plans for the new hospital.”

“In addition to improving the quality of housing for hundreds of tenants we are also generating much needed employment and apprenticeship opportunities through our partnership with Keepmoat.”

£20m local energy fund for Scotland

The Scottish GovernmentCommunity partners will be able to bid for a new £20 million local energy challenge fund that will boost the energy industry and help the trades, Alex Salmond announced today.

The First Minister said the fund will help reshape how energy is delivered and used in communities throughout the country, confirming Scotland’s position as a global leader in renewables and low carbon development.

Mr Salmond was speaking ahead of today’s cabinet meeting in Arbroath, the final meeting before next month’s referendum.

From today, local partnerships including community groups, charities, local authorities, housing associations, universities and businesses can apply to set up low-carbon energy pilot projects in their areas, through the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) Local Energy Challenge Fund.

The Scottish Government’s target is to see 500 MW of renewables in the community and locally-owned by 2020. The Fraser of Allander Institute has now estimated that this target will be worth up to £2.2 billion over the lifetime of associated projects.

The First Minister said: “Today, my cabinet colleagues and I will undertake a series of visits in Arbroath, seeing first hand some of the great success stories of the Scottish economy.

“The new local energy challenge fund is a prime example of that. It is an opportunity to build on Scotland’s outstanding strength in renewable and low carbon energy and to reshape how energy is delivered and used in communities throughout the country.

“Renewable energy is extremely valuable to Scotland’s economy, reducing our carbon emissions and in providing low carbon energy supplies, as well as jobs and long term investment.

“I am confident this fund will help facilitate some of the country’s most innovative and exciting energy projects, and it cements our position as a global leader in renewables and low carbon development.”

Bidding opens for £200m to build homes

Bidding opens for £200m to build homesEric Pickles today announced the first wave of projects to benefit from a £1 billion scheme that will see the building of 200,000 homes and create new jobs in the trades.

The Communities Secretary published a shortlist of 36 large-scale housing projects in line to receive a share of £850 million of funding to get work going onsite and housebuilding started.

Mr Pickles said these projects were critical in getting Britain building, maintaining momentum that has already led to the highest levels of housebuilding since 2007.

The £850 million of funding for shortlisted projects announced today forms part of the government’s £1 billion, 5 year large sites infrastructure programme, and will be used to build the infrastructure needed to provide schemes of at least 1,500 homes.

The money will go towards the building of road improvement, schools and parks to support the extra homes being planned.

Housing is a key part of the government’s long term economic plan. The 36 projects announced today will go through a final rigorous due diligence process before receiving the funding.

Sites include the continued development of the Greenwich Peninsula in South East London, which will help provide nearly 10,000 new homes, while funding is also expected to go to Ebbsfleet Eastern Quarry, to help provide 3,500 homes.

Eric Pickles said: “This government’s long-term economic plan is getting Britain building again. Residential construction is now at its highest level since 2007 and continuing to rise, and 216,000 new homes were given planning permission last year.

“We are supporting locally-led development, and this £1 billion programme will help unlock or accelerate over 200,000 new homes across the country.

“This is part of our wider package of housing programmes to support home ownership, increase investment in the private rented sector and further increase house building.”

£1m investment will create jobs in Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone

£1m investment will create jobs in Haven Waterway Enterprise ZoneConsort Equipment Products which operates in a niche market manufacturing high quality energy efficient heaters is gearing up for a business boost as it invests £1 million in the latest technology.

The investment at its headquarters in Milford Haven – within the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone – has been backed by £385,000 from the Wales Economic Growth Fund.

During a visit to the Enterprise Zone this week Economy Minister Edwina Hart said Welsh Government funding will help create thirteen new jobs and safeguard a further 37jobs. Consort currently employs 85 people.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: “Consort’s increased sales illustrate the importance of investing in research and development and bringing new innovative products to the market.

I am pleased the Welsh Government is helping the business continue to grow and supporting its investment in new technology which will help create and safeguard jobs in the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone .”

The company serves the top end of the market with an extensive range of heaters that are sold through electrical wholesalers throughout the UK – and more recently in China.

The £1million investment in the most technically advanced machinery available will speed up production, boost capacity and open up new opportunities for increasing the contract manufacturing side of the business.

In addition to designing and manufacturing heaters, Consort’s light sheet metal fabrication and manufacturing business supplies a number of leading businesses in South Wales.

MD Ed Spankie said: “This investment is hugely important for us and support from the Welsh Government was absolutely essential and enabled us to go ahead.

“The equipment is the latest on the market and will give us a competitive edge, help reduce costs and increase efficiency- as well as creating and safeguarding jobs.”

Government kick-starts building of 3,000 new homes in Aberdeen

Government kick-starts building of 3,000 new homes in AberdeenNew investment fund that will finance the building of 3,000 homes in Aberdeen has been announced by the Chief Secretary Danny Alexander today.

The development will be phased over 15 years, with a total expected capital value of approximately £700 million, boosting the local economy and supporting up to 1,000 jobs.

The homes will be built by the Stewart Milne Group on a new development called the Countesswells on greenfield land in, Aberdeen.

In addition to 3,000 homes, of which 750 will be affordable, the entire development will also contain the infrastructure needed to support new residents, including education, parks, leisure and healthcare facilities.

To begin construction on the site the developer has secured a £80 million loan from the Bank of Scotland that will pave the way for new jobs in the trades.

The UK Treasury guarantee applies to this loan and has been crucial to getting this project started. In keeping with the industry’s usual approach, the remainder of the development will be financed from revenues from housing sales.

Danny Alexander said: “The Countesswells development will create 3,000 new homes which is fantastic news for thousands of families across Aberdeen and Scotland’s economy more generally.

“This is an excellent example of using the strength of the UK’s balance sheet and hard-won credit rating to guarantee and support infrastructure projects across the country.”

Glenn Allison, CEO, Stewart Milne Group said: “We are delighted that through HM Treasury, we have been successful in securing a guarantee to assist in the delivery of Countesswells.

“It is a critical project for the city over the next 15 years, delivering much needed homes and community facilities that in turn will support Aberdeen’s economic growth.”

Work starts at £141m Royal Docks project

Work starts at £141m Royal Docks projectWork is set to get underway on a £141 million Royal Docks scheme that will build 350 new homes and provide employment boost for the construction trades.

Notting Hill Housing (NHH) has appointed Galliford Try Partnerships to deliver the new homes of the east London project, with building work set to begin immediately.

Alan Brookes, UK CEO at EC Harris, cost consultant and employer’s agent for the project, said: “We are proud to be part of a landmark project that will create direct benefits for the local community in east London and supports the drive for regeneration across the capital.”

Phase one of the Great Eastern Quay (GEQ) scheme will comprise a range of one, two, three and four bedroom homes. Plans include 44% affordable housing, including shared ownership and affordable rent tenures.

More than a third of these will be 3 and 4 bed styles, in line with Newham Council’s aim to significantly increase the supply of family accommodation within the borough.

Newham currently has one of the highest proportions of social housing in London. The increased choice of accommodation will allow people to move between tenures and property as their household and economic needs change, while the low cost home ownership properties will enable more local residents to get onto the property ladder.

The first phase will also provide commercial space, much of which will be specifically aimed at business start-ups.

Kate Davies, Chief Executive, said: “We support the vision, crafted by Newham Council and the GLA, for the regeneration of the historic Royal Docks.

“We are investing heavily in what we believe will become a major new centre for homes, business and leisure in east London. GEQ will provide new opportunities for local people and those who want to be part of the renaissance.”

The GEQ project will introduce 819 new residential homes; riverside bar and restaurant venues; and local retail and business space.

The regeneration scheme will also create internal garden squares and a public realm along the river and docks, alongside improved public transport, pedestrian and cycle routes.

London’s mayor wins £145m for home improvements

London Mayor Boris JohnsonThe Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has announced a major funding boost to help improve affordable homes in poor condition and support energy-saving works to thousands of homes across London.

Some of the capital’s council estates are in need of urgent repair to improve the homes and lives of thousands of residents living in non-decent properties. To address this, the Mayor has secured £145 million of Government ‘Decent Homes Funding’ that will be distributed to London boroughs to bring homes back to good standards.

In addition to this, over 175,000 homes will benefit from carbon-reducing renovations that could save residents up to £180 annually on energy bills.

The Mayor’s Office has contracted Capita to a £3 million contract to support the delivery of energy-saving improvements worth at least £50 million, to homes by 2017.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “This vital Decent Homes investment will enable us to help boroughs transform some of the poorest quality council estates and social housing in need of urgent repair.

“Many families are also rightly concerned at the cost of their energy bills so I’m delighted to be able to put in place a programme of energy-saving measures for homes across the capital. This will result in renovations that lower energy bills for thousands of residents. “

From this week boroughs are invited to bid for Decent Homes Funding, the new £145 million fund 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.


As part of the bidding process each borough will be required to review the potential for additional building of homes on their estates while creating jobs and boosting local growth.

£50m plan revealed for Manchester business school

£50m plan revealed for Manchester business schoolBruntwood and the University of Manchester have submitted plans for phase two of the £50 million redevelopment of Manchester Business School (MBS) that will boost growth and create new jobs.

The phase two plans focus on the redevelopment of the existing precinct centre to create a 40,500 sq ft retail and leisure offer, specifically designed to host a mix of high quality brands and amenities.

The plans reconfigure the existing precinct centre to create up to 14 units ranging in size from 600 sq ft to 11,000 sq ft, with double-height glazed frontages onto Oxford Road.

The variety of units will create a mixed offer of retail, food and leisure for students, staff and visitors to the University and Business School, the significant working population on and around Oxford Road and the local residents.

The scheme will see the building of a new hotel and enhanced Manchester Business School Executive Education Centre, both of which are being developed as part of phase one, which was granted planning consent in April 2013 with construction due to commence later in 2014.

The phase two redevelopment also includes the refurbishment of circa 200,000 sq ft of MBS facilities to create significantly improved teaching and administrative accommodation, a new Learning Library and Enterprise Zone.

Commenting on the phase two plans, Toby Sproll, Head of Retail and Leisure at Bruntwood, said: “The creation of a vibrant retail and leisure offer as part of the wider redevelopment of Manchester Business School is vital.

“Not only is there strong demand for a great retail mix from the University’s students, staff, workers and local residents, the site is a key strategic location in the Oxford Road Corridor.”

Diana Hampson, Director of Estates and Facilities, said: “We share a long-term vision with Bruntwood to deliver not just exemplary facilities for the Manchester Business School and the University, but to create a landmark development in the Oxford Road Corridor.

“This development forms part of the University’s ten-year, £1 billion Campus Masterplan to create some of the most modern campus facilities in the world.”