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Construction News Summit 2014 live blog

Get the latest from the Construction News Summit 2014 with our live blog

5:32pm: Video streams of today’s sessions will soon be available on the website. Keep a look out as Construction News analyses what has been discussed and debated at this year’s Summit over the next few days - online and in next week’s magazine.

Thanks for being with the live blog today, and a reminder that searching for #CNSummit on Twitter will bring up all the tweets and comments from the day.

5:27pm: But that’s all there’s time for. Andrew Neil is making closing remarks. The second Construction News Summit closes for 2014.

5:23pm: On a health and safety question, Mr Pollard says site H&S is the focus but occupational health dangers can get overlooked,

Suppliers seemingly working with most if not all of the CEOs’ businesses are still vying to get questions in.

5:16pm: The CEOs are taking questions from the floor. There’s no shortage of hands waiting to ask.

5:12pm: Andrew Neil questions whether overseas involvement is bad for the industry. Paul Sheffield says evidence tells us delivering mega UK projects without foreign involvement doesn’t work - and JVs involving those foreign companies show this.

Some international zones are offering opportunities for UK companies, but it’s difficult to know with confidence where to work, he adds.

5:07pm: Is construction a good investment, asks Andrew Neil. Nick Pollard says the industry trades on “crazy, stupid” margins. No other industry works with such a high risk/reward ratio.

5:03pm: Paul Sheffield says if construction’s still doing things in 15 years the way it does them now, then it will have lost the plot. The change required can’t be achievedby “tinkering the edges”. He suggests offsite construction could be a “gamchanger” - to general consensus on the panel.

4:59pm: Mark Reynolds: we really need to support the supply chain. Mr Reynolds says the next 15 years are the most exciting I’ve seen… but is that visible to the supply chain?

4:54pm: The immediate problem of 400,000 people leaving the industry needs addressing. We need to attract talent back to the industry - young recruits are a solution to the long term problem.

4:52pm: We don’t shout about what a great, varied career construction can give people, says Mr Pollard. The most important thing is giving someone that job.

4:50pm: Slightly later than billed it’s the contractor CEO panel. Joining the Construction News Summit for today’s final session are: Steve Fox, BAM Nuttall; Nicholas Pollard, Balfour Beatty Construction Services UK; Mark Reynolds, Mace; Alan Robertson, VolkerWessels UK; Dave Sheridan, Keepmoat; Paul Sheffield, Laing O’Rourke.

4:36pm: We don’t have a system that helps young people through their career step by step, says Adrian Belton.

4:32pm: Susan Westberg says Skanska is focusing a lot of effort on social media to engage with younger people. The issue in Sweden, as in other countries, she points out, is that the careers that interest young people are IT, media and technology.

Bringing those elements into construction can help, she suggests.

4:30pm: Lisa Campbell says the US is good at getting talented people into vocational careers: “removing the stigma” around those choices is important. She adds that young people are also getting increasingly concerned about low carbon construction and sustainability and by showing how the industry is tackling the green issues.

4:22pm: Chair Andrew Neilchallenges the panellists that the UK doesn’t value vocational careers. The education system since 1944 has been hindering vocational industries through a failure to implement the ‘Butler Act’ properly.

4:18pm: Skanska’s Susan Westberg says the new generation needs educating about the good things about the construction industry. And, that educating needs to start early.

4:11pm: The CBI’s Neil Carberry says a career service in the industry is now largely non-existent. So much more for the industry to do.

4:07pm: Autodesk’s vice president for customer and marketing strategy Lisa Campbell is at the Summit from the US. Bringing a global perspective to the skills issue, Ms Campbell says the new generation is naturally digital and technical - and to attract that generation, the industry needs to meet that.

3:58pm: After a short break, the Summit is convening for the final two sessions of the day. First to go: how to attract the next generation to the industry, and change its image.

Adrian Belton, the CITB’s new chief executive, asks whether there is a people strategy that will tackle the skills crisis in a way that doesn’t just see the shortage as a unit of labour.

3:45pm: There’s a good debate kicking off on investment in infrastructure outside of London. Is there such a thing?

3:41pm: Thames Tideway CEO Andrew Mitchell says that the project will cost each household “£60 in perpetuity”.

3:33pm: HS2 needs to go further and faster, and to Scotland, says Barry White.

3:30pm: However, new design and construction technology is making Highways Agency projects viable and cost effective. So if major roads were planned, that would be excellent news…

3:26pm: Back on infra, Highways Agency’s director of major projects Peter Adams says feasibility studies on roads capacity due to conclude soon, but no major new roads are currently planned.

3:21pm: Talking about regional challenges, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s Christian Spence says the city is struggling with a real lack of office space - supply is limited.

3:14pm: Despite the uncertainty Heathrow still spends more than £500m a year on infrastructure, the audience learns.

3:09pm: On Heathrow, its executive procurement director Ian Ballentine says that the third runway would be completed by 2025/26 if work started as soon as the Davies Commission gave it the green light.

3:06pm: URS senior vice president for EMI region Jerome Munro-Lafon says the Treasury has a clearer relationship with government, which is helping improve quality of work.

3:01pm: In the session now looking at regional opportunities, Scottish Futures Trust’s CEO Barry White says the country is in need of world class infrastructure.

2:58pm: Andrew Mitchell of ThamesTideway Tunnel says, “We have to stop looking surprised when we don’t cock things up.”

2:54pm: New panels are up in each of the sessions. Major infrastructure clients discussing how to deliver unprecedented levels of infrastructure investment in the UK.

2:49pm: But, Geoffrey Spence reiterates that projects in current pipeline will happen.

2:45pm: The commercial panel is discussing the benefits or otherwise of flexible working. The idea that no one will work in offices in the future is simply not true, argues Paul Williams.

Skanska, who are doing excellent tweeting by the way, tweet that flexible working is different but not worse. It’s changing the commercial market.

2:38pm: Meanwhile, in the infrastructure pipeline session, the question is asked as to whether Crossrail 2 should be a part of the pipeline.

2:36pm: Peter Cole says that high-rise resi is not easy to build - compared with high-rise offices. “I know which I’d rather build”.

2:32pm: James Pellatt warns that residential generates return but has higher cost, and takes more time than general commercial schemes. The panel is asked whether commercial developers make good residential developers. “No,” says Mr Pallett.

2:30pm: Derwent is planning to “dabble” in residential, according to Paul Williams, but Argent’s Nick Searl says it’s full steam ahead for them: PRS is going to be a great opportunity as it becomes more in demand, but that doesn’t mean they will turn their back on commercial schemes.

2:28pm: However, Peter Cole admits the cost inflation does worry him. Derwent’s Paul Williams says greater concern is insolvencies and overtrading.

2:24pm: Great Portland Estate’s head of projects James Pellatt, who we interviewed recently, says they will always think about building speculatively. Adds that cost inflation isn’t a worry for GPE.

2:21pm: Hammerson’s Peter Cole says that it’s a UK success story, not just in the capital. Nick Searl follows up: they’re seeing good signs in Manchester and Birmingham, and that brings confidence.

2:19pm: Argent’s Nick Searlsays their focus will shift towards residential.

2:14pm: Major clients are sharing their plans with delegates here at the Summit. Argent and Derwent are firmly committed to London - “We believe in London,” says Paul Williams from Derwent.

2pm: The sessions are underway. Geoffrey Spence from Infrastructure UK says the next stage of the National Infrastructure Pipeline will be announced in the autumn statement.

1:43pm: At 2pm the breakout sessions start. Session A is on the infrastructure pipeline, and session B ison commercial and regional opportunities. Across the two sessions, there is a fantastic roster of clients involved, including: Infrastructure UK, Highways Agency, Heathrow, Thames Tideway Tunnel, Hammerson, Great Portland Estates, Argent and Derwent.

1:30pm: The gnocchi is pretty good from the Summit’s lunch menu.

1.15pm: On that, the speakers add that the small footprint and tight tolerances necessitated the use of 4D. Offsite prefab critical to the success of the Cheesegrater, delegates hear.

12:58pm: Mr Webb says that his company wants to see more innovation from construction. They chose Laing O’Rourke for the Leadenhall Building for their innovative approach. Steve Cork says that it wouldn’t have been achieved without the use of BIM and digital engineering.

12:45pm: Lunch is upon us, as the delegates make their way through the rooms of the Royal Society building to find refreshment.

There’s still plenty going on over lunch though, as lunchtime speakers Steve Cork from Laing O’Rourke and Nigel Webb from British Land talk through the construction of the Leadenhall Building.

12:32pm: The Treasury is looking at overseas investment flowing into HS2, too, says Mr Nazir.

12:26pm: Waheed Nazir, from Birmingham City Council, says that the city needs to build 80,000 homes by 2051 to meet demand. The question had just asked whether foreign investors could help future housebuilding.

12:24pm: “Overwhelming majority” of investment into UK is from overseas, says Dan Higginson.

12:20pm: The politicians debate has come to an end. Both MPs did a good job convincing the audience of their committment to infrastructure, skills and the wider industry as a crucial part of the UK economy. Whether the detail in their answers was enough to give the Summit’s contractors and clients cause for optimism remainsto be seen.

Next up, slightly behind schedule, attentions turn to attracting foreign and equity investors to UK projects. Dan Higginson, director at Greycoat Real Estate, and JLL’s head of residential research Adam Challis are taking the audience through that.

12:10pm: Mary Creagh says her opposite number does a great job on “high level stuff”. Not sure if that is a backhanded compliment.

12:08pm: That calls for another… Boom!

12:07pm: “Have you actually lamentably failed at infrastructure?”, Andrew Neil asks the minister and shadow ministers for transport

12:02pm: One Construction News Summit delegate describes the “squabbling” between the two MPs as “embarrassing” on Twitter. It feels like the audience has enjoyed seeing them under pressure from today’s chair.

11:58am: Mr Hayes follows this up by saying politicians should be kept away from apprentices and training!

11:55am: The two MPs are perhaps relaxing a touch now after the initial rapid fire difficult questions from Andrew Neil. John Hayes admits, “We have a lot of work to do to even get government departments to take on enough apprentices”.

It’s good to hear apprenticeships come up from the ministers, with a general election little more than six months away. The industry will be eagerly awaiting more detail on the parties’ plans in that time, though.

11:52am: Mary Creagh MP: apprenticeship requirements could be put into training franchising agreements. She says that public procurement is central to an effective apprenticeship programme.

11:45am: Ms Creagh adds that HS2 will help “futureproof” the country’s transport system.

11:41am: Mr Hayes responds by saying Andrew Neil is referring specifically to phase 2 of HS2 - phase 1 is already going through Parliament and Mary Creagh says that Labour is behind the plan.

11:36am: Andrew Neil is certainly asking Mr Hayes the tough questions. “Why won’t you tell us the route of HS2 before the election?”

11:31am: Certainty and consistency are needed if the UK is to get the investment and plans in place to support future infrastructure construction, says Mr Hayes.

11:28am: John Hayes is now up at the general election debate, responding to Mary Creagh MP. Starts by saying that he promises to speak in a non-partisan way - “unusually for a politician”.

11:24am: Certainty is what’s needed, and Labour plans to promote long term certainty, to support skills and capacity in construction, says Ms Creagh.

11:20am: Ms Creagh follows up by saying £5m was wasted on estuary airport ideas. Shepromises swift action on airport expansion after election if Labour are in power, but won’t pre-empt outcome of Davies Commission.

11:19am: Boom!

11:18am: There’s today’s quote of the day: Ms Creagh says that the Liberal Democrats have “more positions than the Kama Sutra” on aviation capacity.

11:13am: Starting off, Mary Creagh MP reaffirms Labour’s commitment to new National Infrastructure Commission.

11:05am: The Construction News Summit is just about to get back underway. Take a look at some of the imagesbeing taken by delegates and shared online.

10:45am: Some networking and refreshments ensue, ahead of the general election debate. Minister of state for transport John Hayes and shadow secretary of state for transport Mary Creagh go head to head in that one: the question is, ‘What would your party do to support sustained growth in construction?”

10:36am: The discussion comes to an end - a lot of enthusiasm in the room and a lot of very interested delegates following the panel’s chat.

Keep following events on Twitter using the hashtag #CNSummit

10:18am: Chair Andrew Neil makes the point that government-backed infrastructure always ends up costing the public. There’s a definite need for long term planning, is the consensus.

10:12am: David Hancock from the Cabinet Office says that construction is lagging behind in digital (as digital editor on Construction News I can vouch for that - ed.)

10:06am: Pension funds and foreign investors, potentially the solution to funding infrastructure, says Richard Blakeway.

10:05am: Andrew Neil challenges the panel on how new infrastructure will be paid for.

9:50am: Mr Williams adds that the industry’s still in a ‘recovery phase’ - which means a massive opportunity to catch up.

9:43am: Lloyds Bank are setting aside £50m for SME construction projects, says the bank’s chief economist Trevor Williams.

9:38am: Mike Spicer says that construction could be looking at 4 per cent growth this year, and says “the future’s bright”.

9:35am: Andrew Neil, chairing the panel, kicks off saying that the economy is forecasting 3 per cent growth with no interest rate rises into 2015.

9:31am: Following Mr Lewis’s well received keynote, the focus shifts from local development to the macro-economic outlook for the UK up to 2020.

On the panel are Greater London Assembly’s deputy mayor for housing, land and property Richard Blakeway; David Hancock, head of construction at the Cabinet Office; British Chamber of Commerce’s director of research Mike Spicer; and Lloyds Bank’s chief economist Trevor Williams.

9:29am: On the subject of Green Belt land, Mr Lewis said decisions are very much up to the local authorities - but they are being taken.

9:25am: The government wants to work with people coming out of the armed forces using their leadership and management skills. 14,000 apprentices have entered the industry in 2014, Mr Lewis says, the highest number in four years.

9:07am: Hiring is back to the levels seen in 1997, says Brandon Lewis MP.

9:05am Mr Lewis wastes no time in highlighting the skills shortage but says now is a real opportunity to be attracting talent to the construction industry.

9:01am: Brandon Lewis, minister of state for housing and planning, is today’s first speaker. His keynote is on the importance of local development and economic growth to the construction industry.

9:00am: After an introduction from Construction News’ managing director Ben Greenish, today’s chair, the broadcaster and journalist Andrew Neil, begins the day with his opening remarks.

8:10am: Following the breakfast briefing, guests take on some refreshments and begin networking ahead of the Summit’s main programme.

7:50am:As the briefing is under Chatham House Rule, limited information is available from the session, but an audience of senior industry leaders have been listening intently.

7:33am: Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, opens the day’s events at an invite-only breakfast briefing.

7:31am: An early start on cool but dry London morning. We’re at The Royal Society on Pall Mall in London.

7:30am: Welcome readers to the Construction News Summit live blog. Get the latest updates here and ensure you’re following the Twitter hashtag #CNSummit to keep up to date with everything going on today.

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