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Construction Parliamentary Update - 15 May 2009

GENERAL PPP/PFI

The Financial Times reported that many private finance initiative projects are to remain off the government’s balance sheet following guidance from the Treasury to Whitehall departments indicating that, while they will count on departmental accounts. (13 May)

PLANNING

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and Culture Secretary Andy Burnham announced the Governments new planning and design standard strategy urging councils and developers to put good planning, local character and high quality design at the heart of development. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published a report entitled `World Class places: The Government’s strategy for improving quality of place`. (12 May)

The House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee held a hearing on Planning Policy Statement 6: Town Centres. (11 May)

The DCLG published a revised circular on costs awards in appeals and other planning proceedings. (08 May)

CONSTRUCTION

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson pledged action over union blacklisting saying the Government intended to introduce new regulations aimed at preventing union members being denied employment by secret blacklists. The government will launch a consultation in the early summer on revised regulations. Construction union UCATT welcomed the announcement that the Government intends to outlaw blacklisting but was concerned that the process will be delayed due to a fresh consultation exercise. Construction News reported that UCATT was holding discussions with solicitors over a civil suit as Government plans to outlaw blacklisting. (11 – 14 May)

Labour MP Jim Sheridan initiated an adjournment debate in the Commons on gangmasters in the construction industry. (13 May)

Housing Minister Iain Wright laid amendments to Part G (sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency) of the Building Regulations before Parliament and announcing that from October all new build homes will have protective devices fitted to baths to limit hot water temperature, and will need to meet a new minimum standard of 125 litres of water per person per day to improve water efficiency. (13 May)

One in five construction sites failed health and safety checks during the latest national inspection initiative carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). (12 May)

Building reported that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) had not ruled out legal action against 40 contractors that used the illegal blacklist of construction workers that was uncovered in February. (08 May)

REGENERATION     

The All-Party Urban Development Group held an evidence session on regeneration and the recession. (14 May)

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears announced the publication of framework report `Towards Transforming Places; Changing Lives: Taking Forward the Regeneration framework report` which outlines details that all new public projects including housing, schools, and hospitals will be subject to new design standards. Blears said £6.5 billion would be invested in urban regeneration across the country over the next two years. (11 May)

Deputy Minister for Regeneration Leighton Andrews announced that a £38 million regeneration scheme to transform towns and communities across North Wales will begin following the go-ahead for Convergence Funding. (08 May)

HOUSING

New buyer enquiries in the housing market increased for the sixth consecutive month in row with the positive net balance in April, the highest figure for almost a decade, according to the latest housing market survey published by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). (12 May)

UK house prices were 13.6 per cent lower than in March 2008 according to the latest house price index statistics published by DCLG. (12 May)

Housing Minister Ian Wright answered Written Questions on topics including housing in relation to floods, construction, planning permission, surveys and standards (Hansard). (11 May)

EDUCATION

Schools Minister Jim Knight launched a new Minimum Design Standard for the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. The Minimum Design Standard for BSF, jointly developed by the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF), Partnerships for Schools (PfS) and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). (13 May)

The Commons Innovation, Universities and Skills Committee held a meeting on further education college capital expenditure. (13 May)

Schools Minister Jim Knight said £7.5 billion had been allocated to support investment in the school construction for the 2009-10 year. (11 May)

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) announced that a further £60 million of capital funding has been approved by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to accelerate capital spending for projects in universities and colleges that are considered likely to have the greatest impact on economic recovery. (11 May)

TRANSPORT

Construction News reported that Transport for London’s (TfL) £150 million contract to expand Bond Street station has attracted tenders from the Costain/Laing O’Rourke/Bachy team, Kier, Taylor Woodrow, Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est, Bam Nuttall and Tubelines. Four contractors are set to be shortlisted in July. (14 May)

Network Rail’s, Chief Executive, Iain Coucher announced that he would be forgoing any annual bonus this year. (14 May)

Construction News reported that Network Rail will spend £34 billion across the network over the next five years, 2009-2014. This will include £11.5 billion for renewals work and a further £8 billion to enhance the network. (13 May)

Laing O’Rourke was named as preferred bidder for enabling and civil engineering works at the Isle of Dogs Crossrail Station at Canary Wharf (08 May)

OLYMPICS AND 2012

The Government and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) announced that £324 million of the Olympic Delivery Authority’s (ODA’s) budget would be invested in the Olympic Village, following the Government’s decision to not use private funding from Lend Lease. (13 May)

FLOODING

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee (EFRA) launched inquiry into the Ofwat Price Review 2009 and a separate pre-legislative scrutiny inquiry of the draft Flood and Water Management Bill. (14 May)

The Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Bill was debated in Scottish Parliament. The plans to improve protection from flooding were passed. (13 May)

WASTE AND UTILITIES

The members of the UK Contractors Group (UKCG), which represents 25 major contractors agreed to sign up to the WRAP Halving Waste to Landfill Commitment. UKCG also appointed Madano as one of its first affiliate members this week. Madano will lend communications expertise to the group. (08 May)

FUTURE EVENTS

Early 2009 Consortium DTZ reports on the potential regional economic impacts of a Severn tidal scheme in Wales

Friday 15 May 2009 Transport Group quarterly meeting

Monday 18 May 2009 Communities and Local Government Committee hearing on proposed changes to Planning Policy Statement 6 on town centres

Mon 18 – Tues 19 May 2009  Sustainable Supply Chain Construction Summit 2009

Tuesday 19 May 2009 ABI/IUA Environmental Liability in force: What does it mean for you? seminar

Tues 19 – Wed 20 May 2009 HSE conference InterConstruct 09: Health & safety in a challenging and multicultural industry

Tuesday 19 May 2009 The Public Private Finance awards 2009.

Wednesday 20 May 2009 Commons Transport Committee hearing on the Major Road Network

Wednesday 20 May 2009 Holyrood conference on Regeneration: Sustaining development in times of recession

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