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Monthly Archives: September 2020

Green light for Bam’s £350m Manchester arena

Plans for a new £350m arena in Manchester, to be delivered by Bam Construct, have been approved by the city council.

US developer Oak View Group gained permission for the scheme on the 24th September, with the project set to be the UK’s largest indoor arena.

Construction on the Populous-designed project is set to start in November with a 2023 opening date set for the venue. A statement from Oak View said 3,350 construction jobs will be created during the project.

The arena, which will hold 23,500 people, is on the city’s Etihad Campus, close to Manchester City Football Club’s Etihad Stadium.

New COVID rules to include face coverings in canteens

Workers should wear face coverings when in their canteens, if they are not sitting to eat and drink, according to the latest UK Government guidance.

Measures unveiled by Downing Street and devolved administrations this week have prompted a re-write of the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) site operating procedures, which are being prepared for re-issue.

A statement from Build UK released this morning highlighted that the new restrictions mean people in canteens should cover their face unless they are eating or drinking.

It added that sharing a car to and from work is still permitted in England and Wales, though people should try to avoid it. Updated laws in Scotland state vehicle sharing with people outside your own household is restricted “unless absolutely necessary”.

An update from the trade body last week claimed that a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “investigation concluded” that a recent serious outbreak of COVID-19 on an unnamed site found that travelling to work, as well as socialising, were likely to have been responsible for the outbreak.

Contractors sought for £500m building envelope framework

Framework provider YPO is seeking contractors for a £500m building envelope framework.

The public sector body’s framework is divided into 10 lots spanning glazing, cladding, roofing and insulation, scaffolding, demolition and inspections. YPO supplies products and services for a range of customers, including schools, local authorities, public sector, emergency services, nurseries and care homes.

The West Yorkshire-based provider, which is owned by 13 local authorities across Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Yorkshire, will appoint contractors onto a dynamic purchasing system that will run from the end of the year until 2027. Any profit the body makes are returned to the public sector.

The framework is due to start this November, with a deadline for the first round of submissions set for 15 October. Contractors can still apply to the framework after the first round, up until 4 November.

Ministers ‘planning new nuclear subsidies’

Ministers are considering new subsidies for the nuclear industry following Hitachi’s withdrawal from the market this week, it has been reported.

Horizon Nuclear Power announced yesterday that it will cease all remaining activity on its two nuclear developments – Wylfa Newydd nuclear facility at Anglesey, and its Oldbury nuclear project site in south Gloucestershire.

The Times reports that Boris Johnson and senior adviser Dominic Cummings are keen to restate the government’s commitments to nuclear builds and chancellor Rishi Sunak and business secretary Alok Sharma will be invited to a summit to discuss future levels of government support.

Hitachi-subsidiary Horizon announced the shutdown of the Wylfa project in January last year after failing to agree financing terms with Whitehall. The company called the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) funding model, where private investors buy stakes in long-term infrastructure projects, with users paying for the infrastructure through energy bills, to be introduced for the scheme.

Horizon director of nuclear operations Gwen Parry-Jones told MPs last year that getting early returns, as they would under the RAB model, was key to the company being able to commit to the project. The then construction minister Richard Harrington told MPs in February 2019 that government work on the RAB model would be completed by that summer.

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) consultation on using the RAB model for nuclear projects ran from July to October 2019. The government has yet to publish its outcome or a response.

Contractors wanted for £60m metro track works

Tyne and Wear’s transport body is looking for contractors to complete £60m of infrastructure improvements to deliver a dual-tracked metro network.

The scheme, known as the Metro Flow Programme, will involve unifying two existing Network Rail and Metro infrastructures to create a single twin-track between Pelaw and Bede. The winning contractors will complete the design and manage the installation and commissioning for metro operator Nexus.

Works will also involve construction for buildings relating to railway transport, demolition, site preparation and clearance work. The contractors selected will review track drainage and replace or update it as necessary, strengthen underbridges, lower platforms at Jarrow and Hebburn stations, raise all existing overhead lines, and re-signal the track from Pelaw junction through to Bede to support the joint running of light and heavy rail. A third track, which currently loops around Hebburn and Jarrow station, will also be decommissioned and removed.

The scheme will be funded by the £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund, launched by the Department for Transport in 2017. The contract is set to run from 13 September next year, until February 2023.

ONS: civils up beyond pre-crisis levels as industrial projects stall

Infrastructure has become the first part of the sector to bounce back above pre-crisis levels of output, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The value of infrastructure work in July was £1.97bn, the ONS said. This was 0.4 per cent above the £1.96bn recorded in February and 7.8 per cent higher than the value of infrastructure work in July 2019. Under a seasonal adjustment measure, which allows for different levels of work usually experienced at different times of year, July’s infrastructure value was up by 6.1 per cent compared to February.

The weakest level of recovery was seen in private industrial construction. A previously encouraging trajectory towards recovery stalled in June, as industrial work saw only a marginal increase on the value of June’s output. For the second month in a row it remained around 30 per cent below February, under the statistics body’s seasonally adjusted values. February is used as a benchmark as it is the last month to be entirely unaffected by the crisis.

ONS statistics show that all parts of construction have recovered substantially following the unprecedented £5.1bn drop in activity seen in April. Record growth of 23.5 per cent across the sector as a whole was seen in June, with a further 17.6 per cent added in July.

Sadiq Khan intervenes to approve 500-home development

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has intervened in a planning decision in Hillingdon, west London, to approve a 500-home site.

Hillingdon Council rejected plans from housebuilder Inland Homes back in February with the mayor ‘calling in’ the project in the following month. At a hearing yesterday afternoon, Khan approved the development, although the application is subject to a final decision from housing secretary Robert Jenrick.

Located on the site of the Master Brewer hotel and pub, the proposed redevelopment includes 1,250 square metres of commercial space, transport improvements and new public realm. According to Inland Homes, the masterplan includes “a network of pedestrianised areas, landscaped public squares and extensive green spaces to create a diverse garden quarter”.

Last month, Inland Homes agreed a deal to buy a 14.85 ha site in west London from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation. It wants to build more than 1,000 homes on the historic Cavalry Barracks site in Hounslow and intends to submit a planning application in the next six months. The deal was its fifth with the Ministry of Defence and Inland Homes’s largest to date.

Lack of new work sees August’s activity slow

A lack of new work slowed construction activity in August, the latest data from the Purchasing Managers’ Index has shown.

The PMI data for August was 54.6, which was down from 58.1 in July. Any figure above 50.0 indicates growth of total construction output. July’s increase was the highest in five years and the three months prior to August were all bigger than last month’s figure. Activity in housebuilding, commercial work and civil engineering was weaker in each category compared to the previous month.

The IHS Markit/CIPS survey found that supply chain disruption continued across the industry. Respondents also reported that “stock shortages and an imbalance of supply and demand for construction inputs contributed to higher purchasing costs. The overall rate of input price inflation was the highest since April 2019.”

There was also an improvement in business expectations among construction companies for the year ahead. Twice as many respondents (43 per cent) anticipate an increase in construction output over the next 12 months as those expecting a fall (19 per cent).

Job losses eased slightly in August, but are still occurring at the fastest rate in a decade.

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