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Construction Parliamentary Update - 28 November 2008

A round up of all the construction news from Westminster over the last seven days brought to you by the Madano Partnership.

GENERAL

The Government published its pre-Budget Report

RICS called on the Government to bring forward construction projects to avoid up to 300,000 job losses from the industry that the RICS anticipated.

Construction shares rose ahead of the report. The FTSE shot up by 10 per cent following Alistair Darling’s speech and sterling also rose.

The PBR contained a raft of measures aimed at infrastructure, public service construction, the construction sector and the housing market.The Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon welcomed stimulus the next day, saying that the £700 million stimulus for road and rail in the PBR would combine with £300m of Government funding to speed up the delivery of improved transport links to key UK airports and ports.

Support for those who defaulted on mortgage payments through unemployment was extended, and support was also held out to those that defaulted while in work, with regulations to make repossessions ‘the last resort’ also announced

A limited tax holiday was also granted on business rates for empty properties but it was not enough for stakeholders like the British Property Federation who had campaigned furiously against the rates. The PBR also contained plans to try to open up the award of public sector contracts more to SMEs.

GENERAL PPP/PFI/FINANCE/PROCUREMENT

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) published the third round of Procurement Capability Reviews for the Department of Health (DH), the Home Office (HO), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) (Press Release). (25 November)

PLANNING

The Planning Bill went through bicameral ping pong with the Commons considered the Lords amendments to the Planning Bill on Monday, and the bill then returning to the Lords on Tuesday, before receiving Royal Assent on Wednesday (Hansard).

The Government published the final report of the Killian Pretty Review – Planning Applications: A faster and more responsive system.The RICS welcomed the review. (24 November)

CONSTRUCTION

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and business secretary Lord Mandelson attended talks with officials from the construction industry, including the Homebuilding Federation and Federation of Master Builders. (27 November)

Foresight, the Government’s futures think tank published a report looking at sustainable energy management and the built environment which argued that ‘moves towards sustainable energy in the UK are being hampered by old ways of thinking’. (26 November)

REGENERATION

Housing Minister Margaret Beckett was among the speakers at the Thames Gateway Forum 2008 in London's Docklands. She said the gateway project could weather the economic storm. The Communities and Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears also set out plans for a £52 million Thames Gateway Institute for Sustainable Development at the Thames Gateway Forum. (26 November)

HOUSING

The Nationwide reported falling house prices of 0.4 per cent in November, but its figures also showed that the fall had slowed on the previous month. They said that deep interest rate cuts would provide support for borrowers and that while fiscal measures might help housing market indirectly, policies to support funding markets could be more likely to speed recovery. (27 November)

On Tuesday the Scottish Government announced £25 million for affordable housing. The Scottish Government also published updated housing statistics. On Thursday Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that accelerated investment of £9 million will finance a string of housing developments across Scotland. (25 – 27 November)

Sir Bob Kerslake who is set to take up the post of chief executive of the new Homes and Communities Agency on Monday, said that the Government was currently set to miss its housing target 160,000 new homes by 2016. (26 November)

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson approved a new development in Tower Hamlets on the site of St Andrew’s Hospital which included 964 new homes as well as retail outlets. (26 November)

EDUCATION

Partnerships for Schools (PfS) held its Excellence in BSF awards. (26 November)

TRANSPORT

Crossrail announced the short-listed competitors for Programme Partner at stage two as Bechtel, Legacy 3 (Parsons Brinckerhoff, Balfour Beatty Management and Davis Langdon), and Transcend, (AECOM, CH2M Hill and Nichols Group) (Press Release). (27 November)

A Landor conference looked at capacity and quality issues of rail stations. (27 November)

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon answered questions from MPs in the Commons. The transport secretary confirmed that an announcement on Heathrow's controversial third runway would be made in less than a month.

The Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon announced welcomed the £54 million North London Route Improvement Plan which he said would see the line to Camden Road doubled in size from two tracks to four (Press Release). (25 November)

The Scottish Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee took evidence on its inquiry into the potential benefits of high-speed rail services (Papers; Minutes). (25 November)

Network rail welcomed the next phase of the South Wales re-signalling scheme which it said would receive more than £150m over the next 24 months (Press Release). They also published their Wales Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS). (25 November)

Transport secretary Geoff Hoon was criticised by families of victims of the Potters Bar rail crash for employing "delaying tactics" with regards to a decision on a possible inquiry. Hoon has not made a final decision on an investigation but has written to all involved consulting them on what should be done (Independent). (24 November)

Transport Minister Lord Adonis announced a Shuttle Bus link to enable rail passengers travelling from Kent to use the new Stratford International Station to join the London transport network at Stratford Regional Station (24 November)

OLYMPICS AND 2012

The head of the Olympic Delivery Authority said that contractors were appealing to Olympic bosses to stop making design changes to Olympic venues so that they could be delivered. (24 November)

WASTE AND UTILITIES

Environment Minister Jane Kennedy welcomed the award of £138 million PFI credits to improve local waste management facilities in the Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire area . (27 November)

FUTURE EVENTS

Tuesday 02 December 4ps hosts a seminar on ‘Achieving Cost Effective Change in Long Term Contracts’

Wednesday 03 December Queen’s Speech

Friday 05 December DfT’s consultation on proposed new categories for Minor Modifications under the Railways Act 2005 closes.