New technology helping Network Rail redevelop Liverpool Lime Street

Network Rail is using virtual reality technology to save time and money and improve safety as it prepares to redevelop one of Britain’s major stations.

Liverpool Lime Street will undergo major work to transform it into a station to meet the needs of the growing numbers of passengers who use it every year.

As part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, £340 million is being spent across Merseyside to improve the railway for passengers, including changing the layout and length of Lime Street’s platforms to accommodate more and longer trains and upgrading signalling to make it more reliable.

The virtual reality technology has enabled Network Rail to carry out 4D virtual modelling to prepare for the work, reducing the amount of time needed on track and the potential to impact on train services.

Safety and efficiency of work is improved as virtual reality enables planners to avoid overlaps between different engineering teams as well as identifying potential risks and hazards which could potentially impact on reopening the railway on time.

Graeme Whitehead, Liverpool Lime Street project manager, said: “On major projects, where you have people laying track, moving bridges and installing electrical wires overhead, all at the same time, we need precise planning to avoid overlaps that could potentially cause projects to overrun or risk the safety of those working.

Using this state-of-the-art technology we can spot those clashes before they happen making the project safer and more efficient. This delivers benefits for passengers, taxpayers and our orange army of engineers.”

Simon Wray, managing director of Specialist Project Integration, the company which developed the software, said: “Liverpool Lime Street is the first rail project in Britain to have a virtual reality model at its core.

A unique feature of the system is that it works on multiple formats including mobile devices. Liverpool Lime Street is also the first project to use Oculus Rift virtual reality technology, which allows for a fully immersive experience for training and engagement.”

£250 million milestone for Start Up firms

£250 million of Start Up Loans have been made available to entrepreneurs to boost growth and create new jobs, Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark announced today.

Since 2012, Start Up Loans worth a quarter of a billion pounds have been agreed with start-up businesses to support them in getting up and running with finance and support.

Funded by government through the British Business Bank, Start Up Loans generate a return on investment to the economy of £3 for every £1 spent.

Businesses up and down the country from digital start-ups to recreational centres have benefitted from the government scheme.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “Whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, and whatever your age, everyone should have the chance to turn a great business idea into a reality.

British entrepreneurs and small businesses are the backbone of our economy. This government will build on the success of Start Up Loans to give entrepreneurs the support and opportunities they need to start a business, grow it in Britain and turn it into a global success story.”

Small Business Minister Margot James said: “Small businesses play a vital role in local communities, bringing them together and giving millions of people good jobs and livelihoods.

With 1 in 5 Start Up Loans going to deprived areas in the UK, they are one of the many tools we have to build an economy that works for all.”

At the start of 2016, there were a record 5.4 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, creating more than 15 million jobs and contributing £1.8 trillion to our economy.

Half of all Start Up Loans for people aged 18 to 24 go to those formerly not in employment, education or training (NEET) and 1 in 5 Start Up Loans go to deprived areas in the UK.

Tim Sawyer, CEO of Start Up Loans Company, said: “Since the launch almost 4 years ago our loans have helped create more than 45,100 jobs and for every pound invested we have returned £3 to the economy overall.”

Lovell starts £7.1m Essex housing scheme

Lovell wins £7.1m Essex housing scheme

Uttlesford District Council has chosen partnership housing specialist Lovell to undertake a £7.1 million redevelopment programme for an Essex sheltered housing scheme.

A ground-breaking ceremony has officially marked the start of construction on the project which will transform Reynolds Court in Newport, near Saffron Walden, into a purpose-built modern complex.

The existing sheltered housing is being replaced with 41 brand-new apartments for affordable rent – made up of 34 one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom homes – as well as new communal facilities including a communal lounge and a garden room, hair and beauty salon and a guest suite.

The first phase of demolition and site clearance has already been carried out. The demolition programme is being undertaken in two stages enabling existing tenants to stay at the sheltered housing scheme while it is being rebuilt.

The new complex is designed to achieve a ‘Very Good’ rating when assessed using the BREEAM system for measuring buildings’ sustainability. Energy-saving and environmentally-friendly features include underfloor heating and a sedum green ‘living roof’ which reduces rainwater runoff and provides a habitat for wildlife.

Lovell regional director Simon Medler says: “We are extremely pleased to have started work on these high-quality and modern homes and modern communal facilities for Reynolds Court.

Our team has extensive experience of delivering sheltered housing to an extremely high standard and are excited to be working on this scheme which will bring about real improvements for local residents.”

Balfour Beatty gets £35m Perth Transport contract

Balfour Beatty gets £35m Perth Transport contract

Balfour Beatty has been awarded a £35 million contract to deliver the first phase of the Perth Transport Futures Project, which will support growth in Scotland’s third fastest developing region.

Balfour Beatty will create a new grade separated junction on the A9 dual carriageway as well as a new link road enabling access to development land to the west of the city.

This is the first of four phases of the Perth Transport Futures project which aims to alleviate congestion, enhance accessibility to the city and unlock £500 million of economic growth for the local economy.

Hector Macaulay, Balfour Beatty Regional Managing Director, Scotland, said: “Delivery of this project will provide significant opportunities for local sub-contractors and suppliers, ensuring that the Perth and Kinross community not only benefits from greatly improved infrastructure, but also from the added economic benefit delivered through this scheme.”

Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive, said: “Through our National Civil Engineering and Infrastructure framework, Balfour Beatty and Perth and Kinross Councils have already formed a close partnership and this will help to ensure a streamlined and efficient first phase of the Perth Transport Futures Project.

Through the framework, the council is investing in the local economy and delivering added value for local residents as well as new opportunities for local SMEs, further enhancing growth in this rapidly developing region.”

The works are due to commence in September 2016, with completion expected in Spring 2019. The scheme will employ around 100 people and will provide a number of apprenticeship opportunities.

London Mayor to speed up housebuilding

Docklands deal will deliver 3,500 new London homes

Sadiq Khan has released the first details of his plans to set up a powerful ‘Homes for Londoners’ team at City Hall to oversee homebuilding in the capital and boost the delivery of new homes.

The Mayor of London has begun work to pull together and bolster housing and development capacity at City Hall and across the GLA family.

As a first step, he has begun recruiting new experts to scrutinise ‘viability assessments’ – the financial details that lie behind how much affordable housing new developments include.

The experts, who will be drawn from finance surveyors and property consultant experts and be based at City Hall, will support housing delivery by making planning decisions faster and more consistent, and by ensuring new developments include the maximum amount of affordable housing.

Sadiq will also lead a new ‘Homes for Londoners’ board, formed of London Boroughs, housing associations, and developers.

The board will oversee delivery, land assembly and investment decisions, and will draw on expertise from across the housing and property sectors to help develop new policy for the capital.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Homeownership has been slipping increasingly out of reach for more and more Londoners, and rents have been getting harder and harder to afford. I want to be honest with Londoners from the start that it will take time to turn things around – we’re starting from a position where last year the previous Mayor built the lowest number of affordable homes since records began.

I am determined that Londoners get the same opportunities this great city gave me. That is why I am setting up my Homes for Londoners team to speed up homebuilding and to move towards 50 per cent of new homes in London being genuinely affordable to rent and buy.”

A review of capacity and skills across the GLA will now get underway. Its aim is to ensure the ‘Homes for Londoners’ team can play a more active role in the delivery of housing, particularly in bringing forward public land in London, and speeding up the planning process. This may also lead to additional expertise and support being recruited into the team in due course.

David Montague, Chair of the g15, said: “The Mayor of London has made housing a priority from day one, and we have been working with James Murray on a new strategic housing partnership.

“Homes for Londoners will bring together the GLA, housing associations, local authorities and housebuilders to tackle the capital’s housing crisis.

“The priority now must be to build a long-term pipeline of clean serviced and consented land. With this we can guarantee apprenticeships, jobs, economic growth, thriving communities and affordable homes. Without it, London will lose out in the competition for investment and growth.”

Increase in number of new homes built and started

The number of newly built homes across England has increased 6% in the past year, new figures released today show.

The latest house building data shows that 139,030 new homes were completed in the year to June and have continued to build gradually over the last 2 years.

More than 144,280 homes were started in the year to June 2016.

Meanwhile, figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show there are more first-time buyers than at any time since 2007, with 72,800 in England in the second quarter of 2016.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We’ve got the country building again with more new homes started and built than this time last year.

This is real progress but there is much more to do. That’s why we are going further and increasing our investment in house building to ensure many more people can benefit.”

House building across the country

Today’s figures show strong regional growth in London, Swindon and Wakefield, which are all experiencing high levels of completions.

Delivery in London saw 24% more homes being built in the year to June 2016 than the previous year with local authorities in Greenwich and Waltham Forest seeing completions soar 126% and 103% respectively over the same period.

And in Swindon and Wakefield completions were up 104% and 41% respectively.

Figures published last year show that the total number of new homes across the country rose by 25% in 2014 to 2015, when taking in to account all homes, including new builds, houses that have been converted into flats and buildings whose use has been changed to residential.

The government is committed to building the homes this country needs and investing £8 billion to build 400,000 more affordable homes to rent and buy.

The landmark Housing and Planning Act will help deliver on its ambition to build a million more homes by ensuring councils continue to play a key role in delivery, and through new measures that will allow them to deliver more homes more swiftly.

Kier secures £5bn hat-trick of major construction schemes

Kier 2

Kier’s construction arm has confirmed it has secured places on a trio of major construction frameworks with a potential spend of £5bn that will create new jobs and boost the trades.

These include:

• A place on the four-year £4bn Department of Health Procure22 framework as one of six principle supply chain partners which commences in October. Kier Construction is a leading provider in the health sector having delivered over £170m of health projects over the last twelve months.

• A place as one of five suppliers on two five-year construction frameworks worth up to £750m at Gatwick Airport. The frameworks cover building and civil engineering projects up to £10m as well as a smaller works framework for building projects up to £1.5m. The award reflects Kier’s increasing profile in the aviation sector with a place recently secured on the framework at Glasgow airport focused on infrastructure improvements.

• A place on the two-year £500m University of Cambridge Framework to provide a range of facilities including laboratories, teaching and lecture spaces and sport facilities. This construction framework provides opportunity to build on our established working relationship with the University.

Kier Group chief executive, Haydn Mursell, said: “These awards demonstrate the breadth of our offering and the strength of our relationships with clients across a wide range of sectors, including healthcare, aviation and education.

Such awards, which account for approximately half of our UK regional building revenues, enable us to work closely with our clients to deliver on their long-term requirements and they further bolster our strong Construction order book.”

Balfour to build £42m student housing scheme

Balfour to deliver £42m student housing scheme

Balfour Beatty has been awarded a 454-unit student accommodation scheme in Vauxhall, London for Urbanest, a developer and operator of student housing in central London.

Having previously delivered 2,520 units across five central London schemes for Urbanest as part of a long-running partnership, this latest £42 million project at 5 Miles Street, Vauxhall will include 454 apartments at a variety of price points.

The 33-storey building will include a wealth of personal and communal study areas, lounges and a cycle store, together with significant enhancements to the public realm.

With focus on long term sustainability, photovoltaic panels and a green roof will be incorporated in order to minimize carbon emissions and reduce fuel consumption, alongside a combined heat and power (CHP) unit designed to recycle heat and energy within the development.

The scheme will create a number of jobs locally alongside an additional 20 apprenticeships as part of Balfour Beatty’s ongoing commitment to The 5% Club, which aims to have a minimum of 5% of the total workforce made up of apprentices or graduates.

The development will contribute to the wider £400 million regeneration of Vauxhall Square, which will include a significant amount of new office and residential development, alongside a new hotel and cinema complex.

Construction for 5 Miles Street is set to begin imminently and is scheduled to complete in summer 2018.

David Kennedy, Managing Director of London Region for Balfour Beatty said:“We are looking forward to continuing our longstanding relationship with Urbanest.

To date we’ve delivered over 2,500 units of student accommodation for Urbanest and over 20,000 beds for private sector customers and academic institutes as well as significant investment into a number of schemes.

Vauxhall Square is an important part of London’s development by incorporating the local student population into the local community and we’re pleased to be a part of the wider project”.

Wates reaches financial close on £63.5m job

Wates reaches financial close on £63.5m job

Wates Construction has signed a contract to deliver a new multi-million pound state-of-the-art food and health research centre at Norwich Research Park, marking a significant step in the business’ growth in East Anglia.

The £63.5 million construction element of this project will see Wates build a new five-storey development that will bring together research teams from the Institute of Food Research (IFR), the University of East Anglia and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Designed by architects, NBBJ, the scheme will comprise a variety of specialist laboratories, lecture theatres and offices. Photovoltaic panels and ground source heat pumps have been incorporated into the building design to enhance energy efficiency.

The work adds to Wates’ growing East Anglia project portfolio and extends the business’ presence in the region’s science and research sector. Current projects also include the University of Cambridge’s North West Cambridge Development.

Wates has made a commitment to create opportunities for on-site industry skills training throughout the work, which is expected to include apprenticeship positions and partnership working with Norwich-based schools and colleges.

Ian Vickers, Managing Director at Wates Construction, said: “This project is undoubtedly significant for the development of science but it is also set to be an incredible catalyst for the region in terms of creating opportunities for local people.

At peak periods our site team will stand at 350 and this, along with our investment in skills training and our engagement with a local supply chain, will further contribute to the local economic benefit of this fantastic scheme.”

More affordable homes for Fort William

New affordable homes will be built in the Fort William area as a result of the Scottish Government investing over £2.5 million in charitable bonds.

Charitable bonds are ethical financial products – no profit is taken by Allia, a social investment charity who issues the bonds on the Scottish Government’s behalf. Allia have provided Lochaber Housing Association with a loan of over £2 million.

The interest on the loan, over half a million pounds, is converted into a charitable donation, which the Scottish Government gives to housing associations for the construction of new social housing

There has been considerable success with previous charitable bonds that have been issued with total investments now over £40 million.

This seventh bond provided development finance for 581 affordable homes, and generated over £9 million for charities of which £6.7 million will go towards the construction of new social housing.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:”Good quality, affordable housing is essential to help attract and retain people in Scotland’s remote and rural communities.

We have committed to deliver 50,000 more affordable homes over the next five years, backed up with investment of more than £3 billion. Announcements such as this one today marks another step on road to delivering that pledge.

Innovative financing schemes such as charitable bonds play a major role in helping us deliver this major expansion in housing supply. We invested £25 million last year and have committed to invest the same again this year and we remain the only Government in the UK to do so.

Through these bonds we are also maintaining Scotland’s leadership in financial innovation, working with partners to deliver more for less public investment.”