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Construction Parliamentary Update - 1 July 2011

A round-up of all the construction news from Westminster this week, brought to you by the Madano Partnership

PPP/PFI

PPP Bulletin has reported that deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has announced that the government will overhaul the tax system in order to open the way for tax increment financing (TIF) for capital projects in England and Wales. Councils will be allowed to keep the business rates that they collect in future and not have to pass them on to central government. The change may help some councils to implement TIF plans so that more money can be ring-fenced to be invested in infrastructure (29 June).

In a response to a written Parliamentary question, Treasury secretary Danny Alexander has confirmed that the government has not approved any new PFI procurements since coming to power. However, new government guidance on ways to improve value for money in PFI deals, to be published in the Autumn, could signal the launch of new PFI projects (28 June).

Jesse Norman has led a House of Commons debate on the history, effects and legacy of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Economic secretary to the Treasury Justine Greening contributed to the debate saying that the government has not ruled out the future use of PFI projects (24 June).

CONSTRUCTION

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released provisional data for the year April 2010 to March 2011, which shows the number of workers killed in the construction industry last year increased. , HSE chief construction inspector Philip White said: “The construction industry continues to see more deaths than any other industrial sector” with big sites maintaining better safety records than smaller sites. The rate of fatal injury has increased to 2.4 per 100,000 workers compared with 1.9 per 100,000 workers in 2009/10 (28 June).

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has launched new guidance for its members to assess the costs and benefits of speeding up the construction process. The report addresses how speeding up the completion of construction projects can be achieved and what financial value can be placed on doing so. It also highlights the legal and financial repercussions associated with accelerating projects (24 June).

REGENERATION

Property developer Westfield has announced plans for a £1 billion extension to its White City Shopping Centre in West London. The plans include 1,700 homes and 500,000 sq ft of new retail space. Westfield says the proposals will create 2,500 permanent jobs and represent a £1 billion investment, although the development will be “phased over time” (27 June).

HOUSING

Latest figures from the National House-Building Council have shown that housing registrations in the North and Midlands have tumbled 30 per cent during the past three months. But in London, the South-east and Eastern regions, housing starts have rebounded strongly, up nearly 50 per cent. The London figure was boosted by the inclusion of the Olympics Athletes’ Village, but shows a surge in activity led by cash overseas buyers and housing association starts. Over the period from March to May, the North-east was hardest hit by the housebuilding slump, down over a third against an already depressed period last year (24 June).

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) have formally signed the second Greater Manchester Local Investment Agreement. The £320 million deal will secure investment for affordable housing in the area until 2015. The HCA and AGMA have committed to working together with partners to generate and co-ordinate investment for housing in areas where it is most needed and where it will have the greatest economic impact (23 June).

EDUCATION

Brent Council has announced the appointment of Wates Construction as preferred contractor for a £40 million rebuild of two academies in north-west London. The existing Crest Academies buildings are in need of modernisation and improvement and the proposed new buildings will include separate girls and boys academies. Wates will deliver the project in partnership with a multidisciplinary design team from Capita Symonds, with the new academies set to open in 2013 (28 June).

TRANSPORT

The House of Commons Transport Committee has taken evidence for its inquiry on the case in favour of High Speed Rail from witnesses including Campaign for High Speed Rail directorProfessor David Beggand and British Chamber of Commerce director general David Frost (28 June).

In an interview with the Financial Times transport secretary Philip Hammond has ruled out the use of PFI to deliver the High Speed Two (HS2) programme, despite supporting the use of PFI to deliver the Intercity Express Programme for new rolling stock across the existing network. The government could choose to procure the rolling stock through a PPP, which has proved the favoured model to deliver new carriages on London’s Crossrail and Thameslink projects (24 June).

 

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