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6 things to look out for at the Construction News Summit 2015

With less than three weeks to go until Summit 2015, we take a look at the biggest issues that will be up for discussion at this year’s event and the senior figures that will be leading the debate.

Infrastructure: Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin

Infrastructure was a big topic at this year’s party conferences with politicians putting roads, rail and energy centre of their agendas.

Following Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to renationalise the railways, chancellor George Osborne unveiled a new National Infrastructure Commission - a proposal lifted straight from Labour’s general election manifesto.

Crossrail Patrick McLoughlin at TBM Elizabeth breakthrough event at Canary Wharf May 2013

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin will use his keynote address at the Summit to lay out the government’s vision for infrastructure and what his department will demand from the construction industry.

He will be speaking just three weeks ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review, which will set out the blueprint for government spending, including his department.

Be there: There’s still time to book your place for this year’s Summit on 3-4 Nov at Central Hall Westminster, London. Plus get 20% using promo code CNREADER

Network Rail has dominated the headlines recently and Sir Peter Hendy’s review of its CP5 programme is expected to be published around the time of the Summit, adding a further dimension to Mr McLoughlin’s address.

The government’s rail focus is expected to fall on certain electrification projects, alongside Crossrail 2 and Thameslink, but other schemes are suffering continuing delays.

Just last week, Network Rail revealed it had put back a £58m pilot project to run trams on railway lines in South Yorkshire.

Mr McLoughlin will discuss priorities for his sector and the balance between road and rail policy, as well as what contractors can expect as the government attempts to reassure industry on its spending plans.

Mr McLoughlin will be outlining how government policy will impact on investment, the UK economy and what this means for the industry at the Summit’s keynote address on 4 Nov.

The economy: Five-year outlook

Next month’s spending review will outline individual departmental spending plans/austerity measures and will reveal government’s economic and political strategies.

How these broader positions are likely to affect construction will be at the centre of the morning panel debate at this year’s Summit.

Leaders from Bloomberg, CBI, Lloyds and the European Investment Bank will debate the shape of public investment in this parliament and where government’s attention will be focused.

Trevor Williams chief economist Lloyds Bank CN Summit 2014

It was revealed last week by the ONS that construction output in August marked the first year-on-year fall since May 2013, dropping 1.3 per cent.

With the recovery still showing vulnerability, the panel will examine where private sector growth will be strongest through to 2020 and whether there is sufficient financial clout behind major projects.

The debate on 4 November will extend beyond the UK to assess the EU referendum’s impact, interest rate rises and what effect greater uncertainty will have on confidence - both in the industry and the economy as a whole.

Bloomberg economist Dan Hanson, CBI director Rhian Kelly, Lloyds Bank economist Trevor Williams (pictured) and European Investment Bank London chief James Whittall will tackle the pressing questions and how they will affect construction.

Roads: Highways England CEO on the network’s future

Over the next five years, more than £15bn will be ploughed into the nation’s highways through the Roads Investment Strategy.

Highways England chief executive and Summit keynote speaker Jim O’Sullivan head an organisation that will spend an average of £7m every single day to 2021.

Having taken over the reins in July, he will be setting out what Highways England will be requiring from contractors seeking to win work under the RIS.

The critical priorities Mr O’Sullivan will seek from contractors include exceptional safety standards, innovative use of technology and high levels of collaboration.

Jim O'Sullivan CEO Highways England

The company’s five-year strategy will triple spending on the network and feature 112 major road improvement projects, all to be started by 2021.

Since victory in the general election, the Conservatives have shown an increased interest in investing in roads infrastructure, a policy that has won support from the International Monetary Fund.

As Mr O’Sullivan settles into his new role, he will seek greater feedback from contractors as resources come under pressure and clients battle to get the best companies in the supply chain.

Discussing the RIS and Highways England’s relationships with contractors, he told Construction News in August “we need a line of sight right down to the people at the sharp end delivering the work”.

Highways England has also shown it is not afraid to rip up bids if they don’t meet its standards, having retendered the third phase of the £1.3bn A14 improvement programme.

Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan will be expanding on the agency’s plans and how they might affect your business at the 4 Nov Breakfast Briefing (VIP and Plus pass-holders only).

The countdown is on: Book your place

The Construction News Summit 2015 on 4 Nov, with pre-Summit workshop on 3 Nov, is the must-attend event in the industry calendar.

Hear from a huge range of clients and senior industry figures as they outline pipelines, the future of construction and its role in implementing government policies.

Book your #CNSummit place now to avoid missing out –

Regional powerhouses: What devolution will mean

Increased debate over infrastructure spending has gone hand in hand with growing rhetoric over regional devolution, building on the government’s ‘Northern powerhouse’ agenda announced in June last year.

The chancellor announced at the Conservative conference new measures to transfer powers from Whitehall- the latest in a raft of moves to delegate spending responsibilities to local authorities.

This wider shift gives rise to a number of questions, and the Construction News Summit will bring together sector figures to debate these issues.

Senior officers from Birmingham and Leeds city councils will be joined by the strategy director of Transport for Greater Manchester and the chief executive of think-tank Centre for Cities to discuss the role of construction in this changing landscape.

Manchester in particular is expected to lead the way on devolution, after George Osborne announced last November plans for a directly elected mayor with powers over transport, housing, planning and policy.

This was followed by a post-election commitment to city devolution deals, following calls for greater powers from Manchester and Birmingham council chief executives. The Queen’s Speech in May built on this with its inclusion of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill.

The Conservatives’ plans for rebalancing the economy continued to develop at the Tory conference last week, with rising star and Northern powerhouse minister James Wharton telling Construction News that projects that support the party’s ambitions for the North were more likely to gain Treasury backing.

The Summit’s Regional Powerhouse breakout session on 4 Nov will feature Leeds City Council chief officer Tom Bridges, Birmingham City Council deputy CEO Paul Dransfield, Transport for Greater Manchester director Alexandra Jones and Centre for Cities CEO Dave Newton.

Commercial: Changing contractor-developer relationships

The commercial sector is shifting significantly, from evolving consumer habits transforming the retail sector to changing demands around new office space.

Deloitte’s latest crane survey found that office construction in the City rose 24 per cent over the six months to June, yet constrained supply continues to hit the market.

Argent, Hammerson and Land Securities are among the biggest UK developers, and senior figures from each will be assessing these challenges and more at this year’s Summit.

Don’t miss out: Get 20% off your seat at this year’s Summit on 3-4 Nov using promo code CNREADER – click here to book

Argent has worked with three of the biggest contractors at King’s Cross and recently told Construction News that developers needed to diversify their portfolios in response to a changing market.

Hammerson has also spoken of adapting to shifting conditions, as online sales and changing consumer trends have prompted it to reassess its strategy and alter its estate.

These evolving market forces will be discussed as the panellists expand on what skills gaps mean to their pipelines and how they expect public sector relationships to develop over the medium term.

Argent director Phil Sullivan, Hammerson director Robin Dobson and Land Securities director Tom Venner will be taking delegates’ questions and outlining their forecasts for the commercial sector in the 4 Nov afternoon breakout session.

Residential: Mapping demand and opportunity

David Cameron put housing at the core of his conference message last week as the future of the residential market becomes an increasingly urgent political and social priority.

The PM used his speech to champion his intention to turn “Generation Rent” into “Generation Buy”. He was speaking ahead of the Housing Bill, published this week, which included measures to extend the Right to Buy initiative and improve the planning process.

All of which provides a fitting backdrop to the morning breakout session on 4 November at the CN Summit, in which four of the biggest market players will shed light on what they see as the future of residential development.

Brandon Lewis housing minister CN Summit 2014

Senior figures from Anthology, Essential Living, Hyde Group and Legal & General Property will reveal their positions and take questions from delegates regarding the trends and projects on the sector’s horizon.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis (pictured), who spoke at the 2014 Summit, told Construction News last month that one million homes being built during this parliament would constitute “success”, and that the private rented sector was a crucial component in boosting delivery.

PRS development will be a topic of debate, with the panel set to analyse this developing market and the new entrants it is opening up to. Government policy on land disposal and the likely opportunities for construction will also be high on the agenda.

Anthology MD Mark Dickinson, Essential Living MD Scott Hammond, Hyde Group director David Gannicott and L&G head of residential James Lidgate will explore the five-year outlook for residential construction and tell delegates what developers will demand for their contractors in future.

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