Wigan Council’s planning committee has approved phase one of the £300M North Leigh Park regeneration scheme in Leigh, Wigan.The long-term plans for the 185-acre North Leigh Park — to be delivered through a private-public partnership between Guernsey-based Long Port Group and Wigan Council — include 1,800 new homes.Phase one will deliver 162 new homes, along with a new access point, green open spaces and wildlife habitat.Additionally, the project will feature a 51,000sq m business park, 19-acres of green infrastructure and a community centre.The approval of the first detailed plans follows the granting of outline planning permission in February 2013.Full remediation of the site is anticipated to take 18 to 24 months and will be completed in 2018.
UK-based developer Ashfield Land has received planning approval from South Gloucestershire Council to construct an £100M office building at Bristol Parkway Station.The 19,000sq m HQ office project, named The Approach, will be developed on the site located off Hunts Ground Road, immediately east of Bristol Parkway Station.Ashfield Land believes that the project’s rail connections will be maximised with the electrification of the Great Western line — which is set to reduce journey times and increase frequency to London and other destinations into South Wales — and the opening of Crossrail in 2017/18. A new link road will also be built offering direct access to the M32.Ashfield‘s land director James Digby said: “Bringing 19,000sq m of excellently-connected office space forward is a strong sign of confidence in the Bristol occupier market. “The area has a strong track record in attracting major organisations particularly in financial services, defence and aerospace. The approved plans maximise the site’s location and public transport connectivity and will offer a stand out scheme for any corporate occupier.”The project is expected to be complete in 2018.
Strabag’s Swiss subsidiary has secured an €100M contract for the construction of an office building and a production building for Siemens in Zug, Switzerland.The contract, awarded by Siemens Real Estate, will be executed on a design and build basis with Strabag AG Switzerland serving as the main contractor for the project.The office building will be constructed using building information modelling (BIM), which guarantees a level of security in terms of cost, design and scheduling.The seven-storey facility will offer 31,700sq m of space on every floor for mechanical/electrical, seminar and conference rooms, as well as an underground car park.The four-storey production building will include production halls, laboratories and offices on 24,000sq m of floor area. An automated transport and storage system will be included on the basement level.STRABAG’s CEO Thomas Birtel said: “BIM.5D is the future of building. The aim of BIM is to digitally collect, combine and link all relevant data associated with the entire building lifecycle. This creates a building data model that basically is a giant synchronised database.“The model simulates for all involved how the building will change as construction progresses, which materials will be required in which quantities at what time, and what consequences could arise from late changes to the design.”Both buildings are to be completed in June 2018.
Oxfordshire’s Vale of White Horse Planning Committee has approved Mace’s planning application to redevelop the former West Way shopping centre in Botley, Oxford, UK.The project, called West Way Place, is set to become a mixed-use retail centre, which will include 140 new homes, a 122-bed Premier Inn, 321 car parking spaces and a 1,325sq m Co-Op store.The development will also involve the construction of 262 university-related student rooms, a new Baptist church, and a new community centre incorporating a public library.Mace’s development director Huw Griffiths said: ‘The West Way Place planning consent is a genuinely community-led proposal shaped by an eight month public consultation which included four meetings of a Community Liaison Group, a series of Community Workshops and a public exhibition. “This consultation enabled community views to be fed into the proposals, guiding the plans at every stage of the design process. “We are particularly pleased that development at West Way Place will be phased so retailers will be able to continue trading throughout the redevelopment. “Mace are proposing a direct let leasing model for the student accommodation but also have interest from Oxford’s two Universities. Retail tenants will include a mix of new and existing tenants.”
Consultancy company Atkins has won a contract to help Old Oak and Park Royal project to become one of the most sustainable urban developments in the UK.The London-based project will include the construction of over 25,500 new homes with a capacity for 65,000 jobs.Atkins is working with Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) and its cost and project management consultancy, Faithful+Gould, to develop environmental sustainability targets for the project.The sustainability targets will be based around urban form and public space, transport, energy, waste and materials, water and green/blue infrastructure themes.Sean Lockie, Faithful+Gould’s sustainability director, said: “Old Oak and Park Royal is a massive opportunity for London to do things that haven’t been done before. “It means creating a vision, which sets out clear goals, such as being healthy to live in, flexible over time, affordable, comfortable, and being energy and resource efficient, and then taking a systematic approach to delivery. “We’ll need to come up with some new business models to achieve this but in doing so we have a great opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives.”Atkins will deliver the final sustainability report to OPDC in September 2016.
Waking up at 5.30am, spending two hours travelling to the construction site, starting work around 8am — regardless of the weather conditions — finishing the workday at 4pm and travelling back home for two hours, is the routine of construction worker Ben Grant.Grant lives in Bournemouth, but works in London. The 23-year-old turned down a warehouse career to follow one in the construction industry. “I like working in construction, because you can see the progress you are making. At the end of the day you can look back and see what you’ve accomplished, because it’s just right in front of you,” says Grant.Even though working in construction can be personally rewarding, a high demand for workers has been reported by the UK construction industry in recent months and years. “There is definitely a high demand for more construction workers. I am aware that the company we are subcontracted to is needing at least 100 more workers at the moment and I can only imagine that this is a problem throughout lots of [construction] companies,” says Grant.A survey of construction recruitment firms, recently released by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) — a membership and professional body for the UK recruitment industry — highlighted that demand.The survey also concluded that 69% of the construction recruitment agencies surveyed believe that the shortage of bricklayers, labourers and other tradesmen constitutes the first or second most significant risk to their businesses.Kate Shoesmith, REC’s head of policy, says: “One of the things that comes up time and time again [in the survey] is that in the construction industry there is a high demand [for workers] and some of the roles are really difficult to fill and to find people with the appropriate skills. “They [recruitment agencies] are saying that it is really difficult to find bricklayers, scaffolders and estimators for the temporary construction jobs. If you look at the engineering side, they are talking about high ways engineers and structural engineers. If you look at the permanent jobs, where it’s difficult to find people in construction, they are saying that it’s very difficult to find architects right now.”Bespoke Recruitment Ltd has been supplying construction workers to the sector since 2001 and has been feeling the pressure. “We have a skill shortage at the moment in construction and we are struggling. We have demand for construction workers,” says Simon Noakes, co-founder and director of Bespoke Recruitment Ltd.Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute of Building this week promoted the concept of former servicemen and women from the Armed Forces joining the construction industry, ahead of the UK Armed Forces Day on June 25.The recessionThe UK construction sector has come a long way since the global recession in late 2007, which saw a reduction in construction projects and consequently a reduction in construction jobs across the sector. In recent years, the sector has been picking up the pace — as can be witnessed in London by looking at the skyline and the number of cranes and construction sites active in the city.The latest employment data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) corroborates this scenario. According to the ONS, the construction sector was the second biggest job creator in 2015, accounting for 25% of job growth that year. And, construction output has risen 2.5% in April 2016 — the biggest monthly increase since January 2014 —slowing down now only due to the EU Referendum and the uncertainty it brings with it.The industry has a number of jobs to offer, but simply no people to fill them. “There are lots of opportunities in construction at the moment and we cannot fill these roles,” says Noakes.“We have no pipeline of talent coming through the industry, so we don’t see many 18- or 21-year-olds going to college learning to be a plumber or a bricklayer.” Despite the recession starting almost ten years ago, parts of the construction sector are still paying the price of a shortage of workers.Shoesmith at REC says: “The global recession affected the UK market particularly deeply.“There were a number of people working in the industry who, when the jobs stopped coming, [started] thinking about whether they would continue to work as labourers. There were an awful lot of building projects that just stopped and there was no more commissioning of new building projects in the UK. When the jobs started to dry up they left the industry.”Misperception and lack of informationAdding to this, Clive Turner, research manager of NHBC Foundation — the research arm of NHBC, the UK’s leading home warranty and insurance provider — believes that there is still a misperception and lack of information not only about the industry, but also about the jobs it offers. “There is a perception about house building having a bad reputation in terms of what it offers. People don’t see it offering a career progression,” says Turner.“What we fear is that people don’t see the progression opportunities. They would like it to be a worthwhile job, but they are not sure it is, and I think they don’t always see that what you do can be extremely rewarding. “If you don’t realise [that] there is a career path that you can follow you will be forever thinking this could be a dead end job for anybody. There’s nothing worse than that.”A recent study by NHBC Foundation concluded that nearly 50% of parents are not doing enough to encourage their children to pursue a career in the construction industry, specifically in the house-building sector. “[It is] quiet a serious concern and we need to do more to encourage parents to be aware of what house building can offer,” says Turner.“There is a disparity between what house building can offer and what is actually offered to young people through their parents or career advisers. “The issue is the absence of a suitable level of information and guidance on what are a range of very interesting jobs.”Possible solutionsOne way of addressing this issue is attracting and captivating young people into the industry. “We need to think about recruitment and retention strategies, we need to see more investment in things like apprenticeships, that used to be a really golden route for entering the jobs market in construction,” says Shoesmith. “It was a highly credible route. “We need to see more government support for that. We obviously need to think about how we give career advices to young people before they are even thinking about the job options. “Do young people know that there are really good careers to be having in the construction industry? Are they aware of all the opportunities for them?”Other way of engaging young people into the construction sector is offering them a wide range of work experience opportunities while they are still of school age, because — according to Shoesmith — “it’s only by seeing what is like to work in the industry that you can actually visualise yourself there and see whether is something that is right for you”.The Crossrail project has addressed the shortage of skills in the UK construction industry by setting up an academy, where they have trained 20,000 people to develop tunneling and construction skills. They have already had 550 apprentices go through the system.Initiatives such as this can help to encourage workers to join the construction industry — as may the wage rise that has taken place across the sector.The latest employment data released by the ONS shows a 7.5% year-on-year increase in wages in the construction sector.“There are obviously huge rewards there, because the pay is increasing in this sector as the skills supply gets worse,” says Shoesmith.REC’s survey also concluded that some bricklayers are taking home £1,000 ($1,470) a week. Kevin Green, REC’s chief executive, says: “If you work in construction you can expect to be earning £34 a week more than last year, and our data indicates that some employers are increasing pay faster as the competition for skilled workers intensifies.” Expected to attract a wide range of people into the industry, Bespoke Recruitment Ltd is following this trend: through the agency a bricklayer is paid £180–£200 a day and a labourer £8.50–£9 an hour.
Developers Capital & Centric and Henry Boot have submitted plans to Manchester City Council for the first phase of a £200M mixed-use project in Manchester, UK.The project, designed by architects Mecanoo and Shedkm, will be located off Aytoun Street on a 2.3-acre plot of land acquired from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2014.Subject to planning consent, the residential-led mixed-use development in central Manchester will feature its own 'secret garden' as part of an innovative design.Phase one of the development will include about 500 private rented flats across two 12–16-storey buildings, featuring retail and leisure space at the ground floor level.The project will also include the refurbishment of the existing 1960s former Aytoun Tower, including a roof village of timber Dutch townhouses.Plans for the second phase, which will involve the redevelopment of the listed Minshull Mill and Minto & Turner Mill, are to be submitted later this year.Adam Higgins from Capital & Centric’s said: “We have worked closely with Manchester city council and importantly, the local community to create this exciting scheme, which will rejuvenate this area of our city that has been neglected for too long.“The ‘secret garden’ concept is pivotal to our vision to create a vibrant new bohemian destination for the city.”
Sewell Group has unveiled plans for the construction of a new business park in Yorkshire, UK.Sewell is partnering with telecommunications company MS3 Networks and developer Chiltern Groupon proposals for the development.A pre-application consultation has been undertaken with East Riding of Yorkshire Council and a project team has been appointed to prepare an outline planning application to submit later this year.Early proposals for the project include a mixture of space for businesses operating in key strategic sectors for the region, a further/higher education space and associated accommodation, an energy centre and a data centre. Rob Cawkwell, Sewell’s project director, said: “It is at the very early stages and we are very keen to engage with all stakeholders, as well as ensuring good dialogue with both East Riding of Yorkshire and Hull local authorities.“This is a strategic site for the Humber Estuary, which is the first of its kind in Yorkshire, bringing together businesses, data, energy and education all in one place.“We are in it for the long haul and we are committed to local labour, with a proven track record of investing in the region to create economic and social impact.”
Legal & General Capital has unveiled plans to collaborate with Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University to help construct and finance the £350M Newcastle Science Central development.The development will be located in the UK city’s Accelerated Development Zone, adjacent to Newcastle United’s football ground, St James’s Park, and to the north of Newcastle train station.The project will include the development of 47,000sq m of office space and 450 new homes. Legal & General Capital’s £65M initial investment will help create more than 19,000sq m of Grade A office space.Rachel Dickie, Legal & General Capital head of urban regeneration, said: “The delivery of Newcastle Science Central will help support the wider Newcastle economy and we are delighted to be working with Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University to deliver this major regeneration scheme.“Providing an excellent match for our long-term money, this public and private sector partnerships model demonstrates that we can unlock major regeneration projects that support the economic growth prospects of the UK by closing the funding gap, as well as delivering strong financial returns for our shareholders and policyholders.”The project is expected to create more than 4,000 jobs in the region.
Swedish construction firm NCC and Region Örebro County have agreed on the design and implementation of a new hospital project in Örebro, Sweden.The construction company was commissioned to build the new university hospital in October 2015.Both parties have agreed on a contract worth SEK1.5bn ($180M) and have worked together to plan the project and prepare detailed system documents. The new facility, known as the H building, will replace existing premises that no longer adhere to the current requirements. It will feature residential care, outpatient care and surgery for areas including ear, nose and throat (ENT), dermatology, anesthesia and emergency care clinics. NCC’s Building head in Sweden Henrik Landelius said: “NCC has extensive experience of building major hospitals, which we will utilize in this project. A partnering project such as this means that, at an early stage, we can plan together with the Region to obtain the best results.”The project is aiming to achieve Sweden Green Building Council (SGBC) Gold certification.
A2Sea has signed a contract for the installation of Horns Reef 3, which is an extension to the current Horns Reef 1 and 2 offshore wind farms in Denmark.The project owner is Vattenfall and the total capacity of the wind farm is 400MW. A2Sea’s purpose-built offshore installation vessel Sea Installer will be deployed to install the 49 MHI Vestas 8MW turbines. Load out port will be Esbjerg.“I am confident that our team of experienced employees both onshore and offshore will deliver on time, on budget and most importantly in a safe manner,” says Jens Frederik Hansen, CEO at A2SEA.When fully commissioned, the 400MW offshore wind farm will provide green energy for over 400,000 homes in Denmark.
The €382M Kieldrecht Lock has been inaugurated at the Port of Antwerp in Belgium.Measuring 500m in length, 68m in width and 17.8m in depth, the Kieldrecht Lock is said to be the largest lock in the world.The new lock, which has been built over five years, is expected to strengthen the position of the Port of Antwerp as a major hub of the EU Trans- European Network (TEN-T).The European Investment Bank (EIB) has financed the project with a contribution of €160.5M.Antwerp Port Authority chairman Marc Van Peel said: “The Kieldrecht Lock forms a necessary key to the further development of the port on the left bank of the Scheldt River. In recent years, our port had successfully overcome many hurdles, now ranking as number two in Europe.“In order to retain that leading position, Antwerp must have a highly necessary basic infrastructure such as well-functioning locks that are adapted to the increased scale of international shipping.“However, Antwerp also needs space to grow, which explains the first phase of the construction of the Saeftinghedok — a new tidal dock on the left bank of the Scheldt river — the next infrastructural project that is high on the agenda.”
Springfield Properties’ plans for phase one of the £1bn Bertha Park mixed-use development in Scotland, UK have received the go-ahead from Perth and Kinross Council.The first phase will include construction of 1,061 new homes, commercial buildings, as well as leisure and recreation areas. Plans also include a new network of roads, and a new secondary school.Springfield Properties managing director Innes Smith said: “Perth is a very attractive place to live and work. Not surprisingly the city is one of the fastest growing places in Scotland. We are committed to enabling that expansion with homes, business and leisure opportunities over the next thirty years. Already we have spent five years developing this plan.”“The plan provides everything a growing community needs. It is important that there are homes for every age and stage. “There will be lots of options to suit all budgets. Homes for sale, homes for private and mid-market rental and homes for rent through housing associations; all are proposed. Many of the homes have been designed especially to suit the site. And all homes are designed to be very energy efficient, keeping bills low for householders.”Bertha Park scheme will be carried out in phases over 30 years, and is anticipated to create more than 2,000 jobs.
NCC has bagged a SEK830M ($100.2M) contract from Fabege to build a new office building next to the Arenastaden city development project in Solna, Sweden.Covering an area of 40,000sq m, the seven-storey building will mainly accommodate ICA’s new headquarters. The building will comprise an underground parking garage with nearly 120 parking spaces. The project will feature large glazed facades and is set to comply with BREEAM-SE Excellent specifications. Preparatory groundwork on the project has already commenced, while construction of the actual building is set to start at the end of 2016. NCC Building Sweden head Henrik Landelius said: “Cooperation during the project engineering phase has been excellent and we look forward to carrying out this project together with Fabege. It is our first large-scale assignment for Fabege and we are using a collaboration form known as partnering. It is a form that we have used before for similar projects and our experience of it is extremely positive.”Fabege’s director of projects and development Klas Holmgren added: “We feel assured about how the initial preparations have been carried out and our impression of NCC’s staff is that they are highly competent and committed. Together, we have created a solid basis for a successful project and we are looking forward to the start of construction.”The project is expected to be complete in the end of 2018.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed three loan agreements worth €400M in total to support urban transport, education, and a combined-heat-and-power plant in Finland.EIB has signed a €140M agreement with the City of Espoo, which will support the construction of four new pre-schools and day-care centres as well as three new comprehensive schools.The programme will also include the expansion of three school campuses and renovation of one comprehensive and one upper secondary school.The second agreement involves a €180M framework loan to fund the investment plan of the transport company of the City of Helsinki. The plan involves procurement of new tram, extension of existing tramlines, and upgrades to the network. A significant part of the funding will be used for the newly produced ARTIC trams.In addition, EIB has also offered a €75M loan to Finnish energy utility firm Lahti Energia to deploy a biomass-fired CHP plant.The new plant, to use 100% renewable fuel, will replace the old Kymijärvi I coal-fired power plant by 2019. It will have the capacity to reduce emissions by allowing recovery of condensation from fuel and recycling ashes back into forests as fertiliser.EIB’s vice-president for Finland operations Jan Vapaavuori said: “The agreements signed today are good examples of where the European Investment Bank can add value for local infrastructure, services and energy generation.“The Bank has continued to invest in Finland over the last few years and we are glad that Finnish citizens will soon be able to find that the EIB’s activities have concrete benefits for their daily lives.”
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed to provide a €125M loan to the National Power Company of Iceland Landsvirkjun to build a new geothermal power plant at Theistareykir, Iceland.The funding will be used to support the design, construction and operation of a new 90MWe geothermal power station and its geothermal wells.The project will be located near Húsavik, in the northeast of the country, where nine wells with more than 50MWe capacity have already been drilled and tested.EIB’s vice president Cristian Popa said: “Iceland is in a very special position when it comes to renewable energy and it’s great to see how Landsvirkjun is making the most of it.“The EIB is glad that it can support this important energy project, which also highlights how the bank supports the energy sector around Europe.“The Icelandic expertise in this area is state of the art and serves as a blue print for geothermal projects around the globe."
UK-based construction firm Crest Nicholson has secured approval to deliver the £100M Brightwells regeneration scheme in Farnham, Surrey.The mixed-use development will feature 239 homes — 167 private homes and 72 homes under the Shared Ownership project to be purchased by Thames Valley Housing.The development will include new shops, restaurants, leisure and community facilities, including a cinema. It will also involve the restoration of the Grade II listed Brightwells House.Crest Nicholson will deliver the project over the next three years, creating 400 jobs during the construction work.
Midlands-based developer St. Modwen has been selected as commercial development partner by Bovis Homes to deliver its £900M Stanton Cross project in Wellingborough, UK.The development will create up to 144,000sq m of commercial space on more than 100 acres at Stanton Cross, having outline permission for a mix of commercial uses including industrial and distribution, offices, retail and leisure.Stanton Cross will also see the construction of 3,650 homes, 379 of which will be built in the first phase of the project, which has received detailed planning approval in October 2015 and is scheduled to commence on site this year.Rupert Wood, regional director for the Northern Home Counties at St. Modwen, said: “It is a major project for our growing Northern Home Counties region and will provide a significant development pipeline in an area which is seeing economic growth.”The Stanton Cross project is expected to take 15 years to complete.
Glasgow University has filed an outline planning application to develop the former Western Infirmary site as part of a proposed £1bn investment in its West End campus.The plan includes the creation of a research and innovation centre and new facilities for social sciences, the Institute of Health and Wellbeing and the College of Science and Engineering.It will also feature a hotel, a restaurant, bars and cafes. Glasgow University’s principal and vice-chancellor Anton Muscatelli said: "We hope to use the new site as a catalyst to attract and grow the very best academics, to attract the very best students and to ensure that Glasgow continues to be one of the top universities in the world."The first major development will be a Learning and Teaching Hub — situated not on the former Western Infirmary site but on University Avenue. It will provide spaces for 3,000 students at any one time, as well as state-of-the-art facilities, and will allow us to use the latest techniques in pedagogy."The project is expected to create 2,500 jobs during the construction period.
Urban regeneration specialist Queensberry Real Estate has been selected by Sheffield City Council as the preferred bidder for the role of strategic development partner in the £480M Sheffield Retail Quarter project.The first phase of the project is expected to be complete in 2019 with further final phases being completed in 2021. The project is expected to create around 2,500 jobs in the region.Councillor Leigh Bramall, deputy leader of Sheffield City Council and cabinet member for business and economy, said: "We are delighted to announce Queensberry Real Estate as preferred bidder to become our Strategic Development Partner for Sheffield Retail Quarter.“This is a key milestone and a significant step forward in the delivery of the scheme, which will provide a transformational development in the heart of our city centre.”Queensberry’s CEO Paul Sargent said: “My team has been focused for the last 18 months on winning this major instruction. It is a dream come true. A scheme that meets the scale of our ambition and challenges our creative experiences to date.“We will work seamlessly with Sheffield City Council to deliver the long awaited regeneration of the city centre. Our joint plans will be cutting-edge and inspirational placing the city at the forefront of the next revolution in urban place making.”