Wates gets Phoenix office revamp in Birmingham

Ardstone Capital’s planned multi-million pound refurbishment of Phoenix House is striding ahead with the appointment of Wates Construction to create the new speculative office scheme on Newhall Street.

Set against a back drop of increased demand for prime office space in Birmingham, Wates’ appointment will see the contractor deliver a package of works valued at £8.4 million.

The new development has been designed by architects, AHR, and will comprise 50,000 sq ft. of Grade A office space across nine floors.

Building work is now underway, with project completion scheduled for November this year.

The project will include the improvement of the building’s existing floor plates as well as a new extension at the front and rear of the development to create increased office space.

Work will also comprise removal of the external façade, which will be replaced with full height glazing, and the creation of a new reception area and modernised entrance on Newhall Street, in the heart of the Colmore Business District.

Richard Scarrott, Business Unit Director at Wates Construction, Midlands said: After experiencing significant growth over recent years, Birmingham is seeing increased investment in new commercial developments, with the city’s market heading towards a record 1m square feet of activity in the past year.

We are extremely proud to be playing a central role in catering for the city’s thriving business landscape and look forward to pushing ahead with the project this year.”

HS2 moves closer to construction thanks to Birmingham headquarters

HS2 Ltd’s headquarters in Birmingham were officially opened by the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin this month, paving the way for the next construction phase of the scheme that will create new jobs.

Up to 1,000 staff will be employed at HS2 Ltd’s offices in Birmingham’s Colmore Business District, from engineers who will help design the railway to procurement specialists.

The official opening coincided with the final week of petitions in relation to the HS2 Phase One hybrid Bill being heard in the House of Commons Select Committee.

This marks a significant step towards the Bill, which will provide the planning permission for Phase One of the High Speed 2 (HS2) route between London and the West Midlands, being passed and construction starting on the line.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “HS2 will rebalance our economy, helping make the Midlands an ‘engine for growth’.

The official opening of the headquarters here in Birmingham is proof that HS2 is already boosting jobs and skills, and will continue to do so as we head towards construction.”

Birmingham will be at the heart of the HS2 network, with new stations at Curzon Street and Birmingham Interchange when the Phase One route opens in 2026. Connections north to Crewe will open in 2027, with the lines to Leeds and Manchester due to be completed by 2033.

Phase One of HS2 between London and the West Midlands is estimated to support up to 14,600 construction jobs, 2,200 permanent operations and maintenance jobs, and 30,300 jobs supported by development around HS2 stations in Euston, Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange and Birmingham Curzon Street.

HS2 Ltd Chairman Sir David Higgins, said: “The arrival of HS2 in Birmingham will play a vital role in boosting jobs, skills, economic growth and regeneration across the city.

Britain’s second city is at the heart of the HS2 network and I am delighted that the Secretary of State has today officially opened our headquarters at 2 Snowhill, as the project moves towards construction.”

Balfour Beatty appointed to TfL’s Framework

Balfour Beatty secures landmark care scheme in Ireland

Balfour Beatty has been selected by Transport for London (TfL) to be a member of its Property Partnership Framework which will carry major building works across the Capital.

Balfour Beatty has been selected alongside other property development companies and consortiums to the development framework which will help the delivery of thousands of homes, offices and retail spaces across 300 acres of TfL land.

The company’s Its current Eastwick and Sweetwater housing development project for the London Legacy Development Corporation, also part of the GLA family, will deliver 1500 homes and supporting infrastructure including a new nursery, library and health centre and a range of shops, restaurants, offices, workshops and new public open spaces.

Laura Porter, Investment Director, Balfour Beatty Investments, said: “Following an extremely competitive procurement process, our appointment as a key partner to TfL demonstrates our credentials as a leading London developer.

We look forward to working with TfL to bring forward the thousands of homes needed for London’s growing population and to supporting the Capital’s continued growth with the commercial space and jobs the developments will create.

The London developer market remains strong and provides attractive opportunities for investment. The TfL property framework provides a fantastic opportunity to invest in the development of London in partnership with the public sector.”

Skanska wins £45m Derwent scheme

Skanska wins £45m Derwent scheme

Derwent London has awarded Skanska a £45 million fixed price contract to design and build a commercial development in the West End of London.

The scheme is targeting the BREEAM Excellent environmental standard, using sustainable approaches throughout the construction phase.

Works are expected to be completed in autumn 2017.

Designed by Piercy & Company, the 9,800sqm scheme will be a mixture of retail and offices. The ground floor will provide 1,850sqm of retail space. There will be 7,950sqm of fully fitted out category ‘A’ offices across seven floors with two floors of roof terraces.

Skanska Managing Director Paul Heather said: “We are delighted to have been awarded our first project for Derwent London, a developer which Skanska has wanted to work with for many years. We look forward to developing our working relationship through the successful delivery of the Copyright Building.”

Derwent London Head of Development Richard Baldwin said: “We are very pleased to have appointed Skanska as the main contractor on the Copyright Building. Together we will deliver a first class office and retail scheme in one of London’s most attractive areas.”

To deliver this project, Skanska has put together a specialist in-house team to combine its skills in design, construction, mechanical and electrical engineering and ceiling installation.

House building starts hit 7-year high

The number of starts and completions on new build homes continued to rise last year to the highest level since 2008, new figures released today show.

More than 143,500 new build homes were started up to December 2015 – a rise of 23% on the same quarter a year earlier and up 91% when compared to the low point of the year up to June 2009.

The House building: December quarter 2015 also showed that the number of new build homes completed were up 21% on the previous year.

It means both starts and completions for new build homes are at their highest level since 2008 with more than 700,000 new build homes started since April 2010.

Meanwhile, figures from the Home Builders Federation also published today show a 12% rise in planning permissions on the same quarter last year, paving the way for new jobs in the building trades.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “Aspiring homeowners should get the help they need to turn their dream into a reality – key to that is building the homes our country needs.

Today’s figures show how our reforms to the planning system are delivering the permissions needed and schemes like Help to Buy have given builders the confidence to invest and build, with starts and completions now at their highest since 2008.

But we’re determined to do even more, and fulfil our ambition to deliver 1 million new homes by 2021.”

Housebuilding growth across the country

Today’s figures show that the number of new build homes completed by private housebuilders have risen 20% on the previous year, while those completed by housing associations are up 27% over the same period.

They also show strong regional growth with Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire experiencing high levels of starts along with areas in North Oxfordshire and the Thames estuary.

Figures also released today by the Home Builders Federation show that planning permission for 59,875 homes was granted in England during the third quarter of last year, up 12% from 53,409 permissions in the corresponding quarter the previous year.

Welsh Government to boost energy efficiency

A new Energy Efficiency strategy that will drive economic growth and improve energy efficiency has been launched by Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant.

The new strategy sets out a clear direction for the next 10 years and outlines how the Welsh government can support action across all sectors.

Launching the strategy Carl Sargeant said: “Energy efficiency offers a considerable opportunity to deliver green growth, through new jobs, skills and a flourishing supply chain.

Wales has led the way in successfully delivering a vision for energy efficiency that will deliver multiple benefits across the goals set out in our Well-being of Future Generations Act, reducing energy use and carbon emissions, creating jobs and tackling poverty and its ill effects on a number of fronts.”

Supporting the launch of the energy efficiency strategy, the Finance Minister Jane Hutt has announced the creation of a new Invest to Save Green Growth Fund with over £9 million investment.

The new national initiative will build on the success of the Invest to Save scheme and offer repayable grants for the Welsh public sector to generate energy and cash efficiencies

The following projects will benefit from the new £9 million investment through the Invest to Save Green Growth Fund:

  • £2.7 million for the installation of LED street lighting in Monmouth County Council, Gwynedd Council and Wrexham Council;

  • £333,000 for Natural Resources Wales for the implementation of various energy efficiency measures;

  • £4 million for the installation of LED lighting on sections of the Welsh Government trunk road network; and

  • £2.1 million to support energy efficiency projects across various Cardiff City Council premises.

Plans to drive growth and create jobs for Tees Valley

Plans to drive growth, create jobs and secure the economic future of Tees Valley has taken a major step as local leaders decided to transform the former SSI steelworks site.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine revealed plans would go full-steam ahead for a new Mayoral Development Corporation – the first of its kind outside of London – to drive forward regeneration and local economic growth in the Tees Valley area.

Work will start immediately to form the corporation. This will offer a vehicle for greater powers to be devolved, in areas including regeneration planning and business support.

These powers will be available at the new Mayor’s disposal so the area can quickly take up economic opportunities as they arise.

Since the closure of SSI in October, the government has put in place a multi-million pound package of support for the affected local community.

Lord Heseltine has been tasked with encouraging investment to create new job opportunities across the Tees Valley.

Local business leaders say the investment will play a role in the return of economic vibrancy to the area – something the new corporation will look to deliver by securing investment from the UK and overseas to bring in new jobs and businesses.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “Already, up to £80 million government funding is in place to ensure former SSI workers and local affected businesses get the support they need.

This new Mayoral Development Corporation is the next step, putting local people who know the area best at the heart of driving regeneration and delivering new businesses and jobs for the community.”

Government support for Tees Valley

The government’s package of up to £80 million support for the Tees Valley includes:

  • a £16.5 million Jobs and Skills Fund to help local firms employ former SSI workers or their spouses in full-time or part-time jobs for a minimum of 3 years

  • £16 million support for firms in the SSI supply chain and wider Tees Valley impacted by the closure

  • £1.7 million to help the 50 former SSI apprentices to continue their apprenticeships with alternative employers – all of whom are now continuing their training and are being paid

Morgan Sindall to build £37.5m education and leisure centre

Morgan Sindall to build £37.5m education and leisure centre

Morgan Sindall has been appointed to construct a £37.5 million education and leisure centre complex in Littleport, Cambridgeshire.

The project for Cambridgeshire County Council is already underway and will include the construction of an early years school, a primary school, a three-storey secondary school, a special needs school, and a community leisure facility.

The project will be completed in three phases. Phase one is already underway and will include the demolition of the existing leisure centre on Camel Road, to make way for the new education and a replacement leisure complex.

The two-storey sports centre will comprise a sports hall, a fitness suite, a multi-use hall, changing facilities, and a social bar area, and will be available for use by the whole community.

Both schools will open in time for the start of the academic year in 2017 while helping the local economy and boosting the building construction industry.

Bob Ensch, area director at Morgan Sindall, said: “Designing and constructing quality buildings which provide a positive learning environment and enhance children and young people’s educational experience requires detailed and thoughtful planning.

We’re looking forward to utilising our vast experience of working on world-class schools to deliver this great facility.

Once complete, the Littleport complex will not only be a comprehensive educational centre for children of all ages and abilities, but an inclusive community hub with great leisure facilities.”

Fast track planning to boost house building

Councils are set to process planning applications quicker and be able to offer fast track application services which will boost house builders.

Ministers want the pilots to tackle the lack of incentive for councils to improve and speed up their planning service leading to “drawn out applications and local frustration” for both housebuilders and individual applicants.

The proposals are expected to boost housebuilding and speed up the planning application process.

The proposals will increase local choice by giving applicants the choice of whether to submit their plans to the local council, a competing council or a government approved organisation that would process applications up until the decision point.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “Council planning departments play a vital role in getting local housebuilding off the ground, but for too long they have had no incentive to get things done quickly or better, resulting in drawn out applications and local frustration.

These proposals will be a first time boost for housebuilders looking to build much needed new homes for hard working families and buyers, and for local people looking to get a planning permission for home improvements through their local council quicker.”

Federation of Master Builders Chief Executive Brian Berry said: “The slow processing of planning applications remains one of the greatest barriers to building more new homes.

We welcome the government’s determination to find new and innovative ways of addressing this problem as it could help builders deliver more homes.”

Manufacturing Plan to boost Scotish economy

Government support to help Scotland’s manufacturers innovate and expand have been announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Manufacturing represents over half of Scotland’s international exports and of our investment in research and development, with nearly 190,000 people employed in the industry.

The funding, including £30 million from the European Regional Development Fund, will enable companies to capture new opportunities presented by a move to a more circular economy.

Supported by £70 million of investment, a new strategy for manufacturing – A Manufacturing Future for Scotland – outlines how government will work with industry and with higher and further education institutions to stimulate innovation, improve productivity and increase investment in Scottish manufacturing.

This includes a Circular Economy Investment Fund to help manufacturers develop innovative technologies, business models and infrastructure, from the proof of concept stage through to implementation.

It will also introduce a new Circular Economy Service, offering development support to businesses seeking to redesign their processes and products.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland has a long and proud manufacturing heritage and manufacturing must also be a key driver of our future prosperity.

While manufacturing has undergone a significant transformation in recent decades, with increased globalisation and greater use of digital technology, it remains a high skills and high wage sector, with earnings that are above the Scottish average.”