HCA exceeds house-building delivery targets

HCA exceeds house-building delivery targets

Government’s aspiration for building affordable homes has exceeded its target by over 11,000, the latest HCA’s set of six-monthly housing statistics revealed this month.

A total of 179,170 homes of all tenures were completed through programmes run by the Homes and Communities Agency during the 2011 to 2015 Spending Review period.

51,187 of those were delivered in the final year (2014 to 2015).

HCA Chief Executive, Andy Rose, said: “2014 to 2015 was a strong year of delivery for the agency. It was the final year of the 2011 to 2015 spending period, and I am pleased that we exceeded our completion forecasts across the range of our programmes which all help to support the housing ambitions of local places and communities.

In doing so, we have exceeded our anticipated contribution to government’s aspiration of up to 170,000 new affordable homes.

We look forward to working with the new government to help maintain the momentum in delivering new homes across all tenures, and ultimately, create successful places with homes and jobs.”

According to the HCA’s latest set of six-monthly housing statistics published this month, of the 51,187 homes completed in 2014 to 2015, 41,312 or 81% were affordable, an increase of 50% on the previous year.

The remainder, 9,875, were for sale on the open market, an increase of 45% on the year before.

During the year, there were a further 27,414 homes completed with the assistance of the Help to Buy equity loan programme, designed to help people, particularly first time buyers, into home ownership.

All of these programmes and homes help to drive overall housing supply, meeting a range of housing needs in local communities and contributing to local growth.

Download the complete set of housing statistics.

HS2 talks business to boost the trades

HS2 talks business to boost the trades

High Speed Two Ltd and representatives from the Welsh Government will be in Cardiff this week to kick-start £10 billion worth of contracts to build Britain’s largest infrastructure project.

The event, hosted by the Welsh Government, presents companies with an excellent opportunity to find out more about HS2’s procurement process and will ensure that they have all the information required to bid for contracts.

Work on the first phase of the project is scheduled to start in 2017 and, at the peak of construction more than 40,000 people are expected to be working on the scheme.

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport said: “HS2 is an extremely significant investment in rail infrastructure that offers excellent supply chain prospects for companies in Wales.

Our manufacturing, construction and civil engineering companies have considerable expertise and a track record of delivering excellent service and products that can add value to this project and create economic benefits for Wales.”

Beth West, HS2 Ltd Commercial Director, said: “Building HS2 is a massive long-term project, one that offers a huge opportunity for Welsh businesses to bid for £10bn worth of contracts, boosting jobs and skills across the country.

To deliver a project of HS2’s scale and complexity we are committed to working with Welsh companies. I am extremely pleased that so many Welsh firms have already shown an interest in helping to deliver HS2 and I would encourage all businesses large or small to get involved.”

Tickets can be applied for through the Business Wales Events website.

New local community powers over onshore wind farms

New local community powers over onshore wind farms

Local residents will have the final say over whether onshore wind farm applications get the go-ahead in their area, Communities Secretary Greg Clark announced this week.

While onshore wind now makes a meaningful contribution to our energy mix, they are often imposed upon communities without consultation or public support.

Following the new planning rules, wind turbines should only get the go-ahead if they have been clearly backed by local people in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan.

Any application to build wind turbines will then need to have the clear backing of the community – with any planning concerns clearly addressed.

Power in the hands of local people

Radical reforms to the planning system have put power in the hands of local people, enabling them to have a greater say in the future development of their local area through Local and Neighbourhood Plans.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark said: “Our One Nation approach is about backing people on the issues that really matter to them and we are today delivering on our manifesto commitment to give local people the final say over onshore wind farm applications.”

If a planning application has already been made for wind turbines in an area where the local plan does not identify suitable sites, the council will only be able to approve the application where it addresses the planning concerns of the affected community and therefore has local backing.

Birmingham City Council extends Morgan Sindall’s framework

Birmingham City Council extends Morgan Sindall's framework

Morgan Sindall and Lovell have seen their position on the multi-contractor Constructing West Midlands framework extended by Birmingham City Council.

The consortium, known as Community Solutions, has had its role on Lot 7 of the framework, which covers major capital projects with a value in excess of £500,000, extended by a further two years from September 2015.

Originally appointed in September 2011 for a four-year period, Community Solutions has delivered around 50 projects through the framework which have a combined estimated value of over £120 million.

These include the £5.5 million Old Square Shopping Centre in Walsall, which completed in 2014, and the £5.6 million Perry Beeches IV free school which was awarded in 2013. Current work in progress amounts to approximately £80 million.

These include: enhanced project delivery efficiencies driven by lean processing, coupled with social charter targets for elements such as community engagement, training and local employment and an improved reporting structure.

Community Solutions’ work, along with three other framework contractors within Lot 7, is tested against seven key performance indicator categories where it continues to perform strongly.

Morgan Sindall’s Area Director for the Midlands region, Richard Fielding, said: “This extension represents a significant achievement for the consortium which is built on a record of delivery, partnership working and honest communication.

The people of the West Midlands region demand and deserve the very best accommodation for their public services and it is our job to ensure this is delivered in an efficient and safe manner which also has a positive social impact.”

Constructing West Midlands is open to any public body including local authorities, healthcare, education and blue light services.

It covers the entire West Midlands region including the shires of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Staffordshire along with the Black Country and the key satellite locations including Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent and Telford & Wrekin.

Bouygues to build new QMUL graduate centre

Queen Mary University selects Bouygues UK to build new graduate centre

Bouygues UK has been awarded a £27 million contract to provide a new graduate facility as part of Queen Mary University of London (QMUL)’s main teaching campus in Tower Hamlets.

The building will provide a vital research and teaching resource for the university and its growing number of postgraduate students; with large amphitheatre-style teaching areas and 63 offices dedicated to supporting postgraduates with their studies at the Mile End Road campus.

The university’s School of Economics and Finance will also relocate to the new building, which will include a cafe, lecture theatre and seminar rooms as well as a common room and terrace.

Bouygues UK’s Managing Director for Construction London, Arnaud Bekaert, said: “We are delivering a new building, on a busy student campus, in close proximity to London Underground – each of which presents different, simultaneous challenges for us during the construction phase.

The eight-storey facility will be built with two concrete cores and feature a 750 tonne steel frame with a brick facade and curtain wall. The building has an irregular facade so it is not uniform in design.

Due to its proximity to the Central Line, the building has also had to incorporate features to absorb and minimise vibrations from the trains using the underground, as have our construction methods. All in all, it is an exciting and complex project.”

As part of the project, Bouygues UK is once again collaborating with architects WilkinsonEyre; the companies previously worked together on the multiple award-winning Mary Rose Museum.

Project Manager Lead, Julie Crossen, Sweett Group said: “We are extremely pleased to have Bouygues UK as part of the project team to deliver the new Graduate Centre. Through our combined experience and established relationship, and working closely with the design team, we will deliver a state-of-the-art facility for QMUL.”

Enabling works have already been carried out on the site. The project is scheduled for completion in time for late 2016.

Kier chosen for £22m Dewsbury Hospital redevelopment

Kier 2

Kier has been given a £22 million contract to reconfigure and refurbish Dewsbury and District Hospital for the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust (MYHT).

Incorporating both refurbishment and new build, the three-year P21+ project will provide a new main entrance to provide a central focal point for patients, visitors and staff.

The reconfiguration of the hospital will allow MYHT to bring together all of the services it currently provides across the site into the existing Ridings building.

The works are being carried out to meet MYHT’s ‘Meeting the Challenge Strategy’, which aims to provide accessible and safe services to local people. Dewsbury and District Hospital will also become a designated ‘emergency centre’ as part of the Trust’s programme to develop an emergency care network across Mid Yorkshire.

Kier will complete the work in two phases, starting later this year by relocating services into the Ridings building and Service Centre. The construction of the new main entrance forms part of the phase two works.

Robbie Blackhurst, Kier framework manager, said: “We are pleased to have been chosen to deliver this exciting reconfiguration of Dewsbury and District Hospital, which will help to provide a more streamlined service for patients.

Kier has extensive experience in the provision of healthcare schemes, having secured over 50 projects through the P21+ framework in the past four years, and we’re looking forward to working closely with MYHT’s clinical stakeholders to design and deliver this transformational programme.”

Kevin Oxley, MYHT director responsible for capital project developments, added: “We are delighted to announce the appointment of Kier as our P21+ partner for the Dewsbury Hospital redevelopment.

Kier have a long and distinguished track record in both hospital redevelopment and new builds. We look forward to them bringing their experience and expertise to this important project.”

BAM gets Plymouth Science Park job

BAM gets Plymouth Science Park job

BAM Construction is to build a £6.5 million office block at the rapidly expanding Plymouth Science Park that will create jobs and boost the local economy.

The contractor, which has offices in Exeter, will deliver the 2,500 sq m state-of-the-art building as phase five of Plymouth Science Park.

It will feature modern, comfortable office space; state-of-the-art technology; and communal spaces designed to foster collaboration.

The company will work with local labour and apprentices, as well as aiming to provide opportunities to subcontractors in the area. The project is due to start in August 2015 and complete a year later.

Plymouth Science Park is a joint venture between Plymouth University and Plymouth City Council and is part of the Growth Acceleration and Investment Network (GAIN). It is home to more than 70 businesses employing 750 people.

The development is being funded by the partners with funding from the first round of the Growth Deal made by Government to the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

BAM Construction Director, Graham Kingdon, said: “BAM is delighted to be working on this exciting development for the thriving science sector in Plymouth.

We have already worked hard to cut the length of the construction programme and to ensure the client’s ambitions for this development are fully met. We now look forward to working hard to ensure the scheme benefits the local economy and environment throughout its construction and end use.”

Sustainability measures will include solar panels on the roof, rainwater harvesting, natural ventilation and high-performance wall insulation panels.

Go-ahead for new larger station building at Southall

Go-ahead for new larger station building at Southall

Proposals for a major overhaul of Southall station as part of the Crossrail programme have been approved by Ealing Council, paving the way for work to start this summer.

The work will be carried out by Network Rail and will last around 2 years. From the end of 2017, the station will be run by Transport for London as part of London’s integrated transport network.

By improving transport links, Crossrail is already unlocking development opportunities in west London, encouraging investment and supporting local jobs and businesses.

Almost half of planning applications (44%) within a kilometre of the five stations in the London Borough of Ealing cited the new railway as a justification for the development proceeding.

An example of a development that has cited Crossrail as a key factor includes the Southall Gas Works. The 83 hectare brownfield site has outline planning permission for a development of 3,750 homes and 525,000 square feet of commercial and community space and a primary school.

Matthew White, Crossrail Surface Director said: “The Crossrail improvements will transform the station and deliver a larger building that will serve local people for many decades to come.

The designs show a bright, spacious structure that will be easier for passengers to get around and will provide a focal point for the local area.”

Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: “The new design makes it as easy as possible for passengers to use, while also making a significant improvement to the town centre in line with the regeneration work that is already well underway in the area.

It is clear that the new station and the arrival of Crossrail will bring long lasting benefits not only for commuters but for the area as a whole.”

Crossrail has also been working with Ealing Council and Network Rail to help develop plans for improvements around both the new and existing station buildings which can be implemented when the new station building has opened.

New figures show Britain is building again

New figures show Britain is building again

The government has provided nearly 800,000 new homes across England since 2009, according to new figures released by the Valuation Office Agency.

The official statistics show the government’s plan to boost jobs and growth in the British house building industry is working.

The figures – which show how many properties there are in England covered by a Council Tax band – highlight an increase of 795,000 new homes since 2009.

The annual increase is 173,000 homes between March 2014 and March 2015.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “Today’s figures show how our efforts have got the country building again, with almost 800,000 additional homes delivered since the end of 2009.

Our radically reformed planning system has put power in the hands of local communities, helping over 200,000 households onto the property ladder through government-backed schemes.

Whilst our efforts to cut the deficit have helped keep interest rates at their record low making mortgages more affordable.”

1,000 new homes for private rent in London

1,000 new homes for private rent in London

Three multi-million pound deals will provide over 1,000 new homes specifically for private rent in London, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis announced this week.

The homes will be built in some of the capital’s most sought-after locations – including the newest neighbourhood in Stratford’s Olympic Village site.

Building to rent

The £1 billion Build to Rent fund is designed to help developers produce large scale, quality homes, specifically for the private rented sector.

The latest agreements will mean £252 million is invested in building 1,353 homes across key sites in London. These include:

  • 903 homes for rent at Stratford’s Olympic Village

  • 278 homes for rent at Newington Butts in Southwark

  • 172 homes for rent across sites in Hammersmith, Westminster and West Kensington

Work on the homes will start straight away, and be completed in 2017 and 2018.

Each site will include a mix of 1, 2 and 3-bedroom properties, all located closely to underground stations.

Speaking at the London Real Estate Forum, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “As a global city, with excellent opportunities and links to the rest of the world, there is clear demand to provide people with the flexible option of renting in London.

These 3 deals will deliver 1,353 new homes specifically for private rent in some of the capital’s most sought-after locations, meeting the needs of tenants well into the future.

These 3 deals are the latest to receive Build to Rent funding, delivering a total 4,200 new homes worth a combined £464 million since 2013, and offering greater choice for Londoners.”

Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency Andy Rose said: “The HCA is focused on increasing housing supply and these latest deals will help to build a strong private rented sector providing a choice of quality homes in areas of high demand.”