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The first 50 schools in the government’s rebuilding programme

The government has confirmed the top 50 schools in the first wave of its £1 billion school redevelopment plan.

The entire plan will deliver 500 reconstruction projects in the next ten years and it will start next autumn

The government announced 50 reconstruction projects and 21 new free schools in the first wave of work. The schools include primary, secondary and special schools as well as a sixth form college in West Yorkshire, with more than 70% of the schools in the North and Midlands.

 To help achieve the government’s net zero emissions goal, the school’s project will become more environmentally friendly.

Most of the plan’s first 50 reconstruction projects are expected to be completed within three to five years.

To support the first round of school reconstruction plans, the project invested more than £1bn, which is based on the government’s allocation of £1.8bn for school maintenance and upgrade projects next year.

School Rebuilding Programme: First 50 schools

Birmingham

King Edward VI Handsworth Wood Girls’ Academy

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Oak Academy

Cambridgeshire

Sawston Village College

Coventry

Cardinal Newman Catholic School

Coundon Court

West Coventry Academy

Derbyshire

Somerlea Park Junior School

Wilsthorpe School

Doncaster

Ash Hill Academy

Ridgewood School

Essex

The King Edmund School

Gloucestershire

Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School

Thomas Keble School

Hammersmith and Fulham

Fulham Cross Academy

Hampshire

Bay House School

Hertfordshire

Pinewood School

Kingston Upon Thames

Coombe Boys’ School

Kirklees

Greenhead College

Lancashire

Lytham St Annes High School

Tarleton Academy

Whitworth Community High School

Leicester

Catherine Infant School

Leicestershire

The Castle Rock School

Manchester

Sandilands Primary School

North Tyneside

Whitley Bay High School

Nottinghamshire

Sutton Bonington Primary School

Yeoman Park Academy

Rochdale

Kingsway Park High School

Littleborough Community Primary School

Newhouse Academy

Sefton

Deyes High School

Shropshire

Belvidere School

St. Helens

Longton Lane Community Primary School

Staffordshire

Wombourne High School

Sunderland

Farringdon Community Academy

Sutton

Greenshaw High School

Trafford

St John Vianney School

Wakefield

Minsthorpe Community College, A Specialist Science College

Wandsworth

Francis Barber Pupil Referral Unit

Warwickshire

Hartshill School

Kineton High School

Southam College

West Sussex

Greenway Academy

Wigan

The Byrchall High School

Fred Longworth High School

St John Fisher Catholic High School

St Thomas’ CofE Primary School, Leigh

Wolverhampton

S.Peter’s Collegiate Church of England School

Worcestershire

Pershore High School

Waseley Hills High School

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Fraud Alert: L&Q hit by investor scam

Major development association L&Q has launched an investigation after closing a fake investment opportunity in the business.

The housing association disclosed that it had learned of a fraudulent document and website using its name and claiming to be advertising an L&Q investment opportunity.

In a statement, L&Q said: “We can confirm that neither the document ‘L&Q Bond 2020/21 investment guide’ nor the linked website are genuine”

The organisation urged anyone who receives the document, or is in contact with those responsible for it, to report it to the City of London Police Action Fraud unit.

The fake website has now been taken down.

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Recruiters warning: Labour shortages could raise rates by 10%

A decrease in the number of EU-born workers in the UK construction industry, combined with an increase in demand, has created a restriction on the workforce. Contractors are finding it more difficult to hire workers at existing rates and are facing cost increases. The difficulties finding labour, following a drop in the number of EU-born workers in the UK, are likely to raise rates by at least 10 %, recruiters have warned.

Recent data from the Office for National Statistics revealed that more than 1 in 4 EU-born construction workers had left the industry between September 2019 and September 2020.

ONS data also showed that construction vacancies in the last quarter of the year had reached pre-pandemic levels. Construction was just one of two industries that reported a higher level of vacancies compared to the same period in 2019.

The labour shortage is not uniform across the UK, with major cities hit the hardest. Contractors in major cities like London and Birmingham face the biggest challenge in getting good workers at current prices.

This mismatch between supply and demand in the cities is causing workers to be brought in from further afield.

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London houses will have smaller windows

Residential developments in London will have to be fitted with windows up to 60% smaller than in other parts of the UK to comply with proposed new regulations to control overheating in new homes.

The measures are included in a consultation document for new building regulations launched last week and will apply to all new homes and residential institutions.

Government investigation has revealed that most new homes will overheat during hot summers and the problem will be particularly severe in London due to higher temperatures than in other parts of the country.

The draft regulation proposes that new London homes equipped with windows on opposite facades cannot have a window area greater than 13% of the floor area. Similar houses built in other parts of England will be allowed to have a window area of up to 21% of the floor area.

External shutters, overhangs or high performance solar control glass will also be mandatory in London on the south, east and west elevations of a development to control solar gain.

Homes will also need to include an unrestricted ventilation area equivalent or greater than the glazing area to remove excess summer heat.

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UK’s construction loses EU-born workforce

The number of European Union-born workers in the UK construction industry has dropped by more than a quarter in 12 months.

In the third quarter of 2020, there were 127,000 EU-born workers in the industry, down from 176,000 registered in the same period in 2019. The 28 % drop was larger than the 7 % drop in total employment in construction.

The exodus of EU-born workers has been greatest in London, where the decline was 30 % in the period.

The 28 % decline in EU-born workers over the past year has also been significantly greater than the 10 % fall seen for non-EU migrant workers.

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Covid-19 hits Laing O’Rourke’s Liverpool hospital: 26 cases on job with 1000 people

Laing O’Rourke confirmed 26 cases of covid in just over a week at its Royal Liverpool Hospital site.

In recent weeks, they have seen an increasing number of positive test results among workers in line with the latest increases in the Liverpool area.

 When a worker tests positive, they ensure they self-isolate immediately. They also implement track and trace procedures and ask the contacts of anyone who has tested positive to leave the project and isolate. Work in the zone where the positive was found is then paused to be deep cleaned before work resumes.

O’Rourke has around 1,000 workers on the job, which remains open, and was originally meant to finish in 2017. It is now due to be completed next year.

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November’s infrastructure growth brings construction work to pre-pandemic levels

The increase in new construction work in November sent the industry’s production to its highest level since January 2020, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

The value of all construction work in November hit £14.01bn, the highest level since last January. Growth was led by the infrastructure sector, which saw a 10% jump from October.

November’s worth of work was the highest on record for the infrastructure market (£ 2bn). It was also the only part of the construction sector where production was higher than 12 months earlier.

New data from the ONS also showed that UK’s economy as a whole shrank a 2.6%, after six consecutive months of growth, as England entered its second lockdown.

Infrastructure growth contributed to a 3% increase in all new works in November, helping to offset a 1% drop in repair and maintenance work. Both public housing and non-housing new works decreased in the period. There was modest growth for the private housing and industrial sectors, but private commercial construction remained stable.

November was the seventh consecutive month of production growth for the industry since it fell to a monthly record low of £ 8bn in April during the first lockdown.

PMI data released last week suggested that December was another growth month for the industry. The survey of construction buyers showed evidence that strong demand and supplier constraints had led to price increases.

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Rightmove: Site visits up 30% on same period last year

Rightmove has recorded its busiest new year start ever, despite lockdown restrictions sweeping the UK.

The property website said site visits were up 30% on the same period in 2020, with more than six million daily visits to sites last week.

The number of people contacting estate agents enquiring about a property purchase was an 11% higher, while those asking about a property to rent was up by 22%.

Rightmove said January is usually a busy month, as people make plans to move home at the start of the year, but they didn’t expect this results with so much uncertainty around restrictions. The demand they’ve seen so far is also the highest they’ve ever had in January.

The government has made clear that the housing market would remain open despite the closure of schools, hospitality outlets and most shops during the latest lockdown, but the housing ministry last week warned that regional or national closures of the market would be considered if necessary to manage the spread of the virus.

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Court Collaboration: new 48-storey Birmingham tower approved

Birmingham City Council has given the green-light for one of the biggest buildings in the city, a 48-storey tower.

The build-to-rent scheme will include 454 one and two-bed flats as well as some office space. 3% of the flats will be classified as “affordable”.

Court Collaboration said building works on the Deritend scheme are expected to begin later this year.

The company’s CEO Alex Neale said: “With a high level of ongoing investment and regeneration in this area… we are thrilled to have received planning permission from Birmingham City Council and look forward to starting works on-site in due course.”

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Contractors raise worries about working in lockdown

Major contractors are warning that keeping sites open in the coming weeks might not be as straightforward as previous lockdowns.

On Monday evening, Boris Johnson put England into another national lockdown – the third in just over nine months – to deal with the emergence of a new variant of covid-19 which the government’s scientists have found to be 50% to 70% more infectious. Construction was again spared the prime minister’s stay at home order with sites told to carry on working.

Government figures released on Monday showed there were 26,626 covid patients in hospital in England, up 30% on a week earlier. The peak of admissions in the first wave was 18,374 on 12 April but the country is now 40% above that level.

Sites are still operating under the existing 1m-plus rule on social distancing but one firm said bringing in tougher 2m-plus measures would see productivity hit.

Firms have said they are rotating teams and making sure not all critical staff are on site at the same time in case a job is struck down by a covid outbreak.

Contractors are also grappling with staff having to juggle childcare issues after all primary and secondary schools were shut down following Johnson’s Monday night announcement.

According to the government’s definition, key workers include a range of jobs from healthcare and education staff, supermarket workers and binmen. Any construction workers defined by the criteria is limited to “those constructing or supporting the operation of critical transport and border infrastructure through which supply chains pass”.

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