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Construction Parliamentary Update - 14 January 2011

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

PPP/PFI

Following a review by the Treasury, fire chiefs have confirmed a £50 million project to rebuild 11 fire stations in Staffordshire will go ahead. Stations in Stone, Burton-on-Trent, Chase Terrace, Codsall, Kinver, Lichfield, Leek, Penkridge, Ashley, Rugeley and Longton will be rebuilt. Companies interested in the PFI design, build and maintenance of the community fire stations are being invited to submit their proposals, with a preferred bidder expected to be selected in January 2012 (12 January).

PLANNING

London planning chiefs have approved plans for a new 150 m skyscraper by Heron International. The £500 million 43-storey Heron Plaza will be a major hotel, residential and retail development in the City of London. Demolition of the site and construction are due to begin later this year (12 January).

CONSTRUCTION

The Construction Employers Federation has published data showing that over the previous 12 months every second construction company was working at half capacity or less. The outlook among 60 per cent of respondents also anticipated a lower workload in 2011. The State of Trade results also showed no discernable improvement in the construction industry’s experience of the planning system (12 January).

The Institution of Structural Engineers has announced that Roger Plank will be inaugurated as its new president later this month (12 January).

The latest Markit/Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply data has shown that construction activity has fallen for the first time in nine months, with the housing sector showing the steepest decline in 20 months (12 January).

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association has announced the appointment of Alasdair Reisner to the newly created role of director of external affairs (11 January).

The latest statistics released by PricewaterhouseCoopers show that the construction industry was the worst affected sector in the UK for corporate failures in 2010. Construction insolvencies during 2010 were 15 per cent above those experienced in 2008. The sector suffered 565 insolvencies during the fourth quarter of 2010, more than manufacturing with 410 and retail with 399 (9 January).

REGENERATION

The Department for Regional Development has published a consultation paper on the review of the Regional Development Strategy. The consultation will run until 31 March (7 January).

HOUSING

The Scottish Government has announced a sharp rise in council house building, with over 700 new homes planned by the end of March. Housing and communities minister Alex Neil confirmed that £80 million has been provided to 23 local authorities to kickstart building projects over three years for 3,000 new council homes and 2,000 construction jobs (12 January).

The Homes and Communities Agency has announced that 15 companies have been appointed to its new Engineering Panel, where they will be able to offer their services more cost effectively than on an open market basis. Those on the panel will also reduce the time it takes to procure under a fully compliant OJEU process by over four months. The services offered by the panel include transport and highways, geotechnical and remediation, environmental, and mechanical and electrical engineering (11 January).

The Department for Communities and Local Government has rejected demands from the Greater London Authority to toughen up timber-frame building rules. The government confirmed that it would retain current regulations governing timber-framed buildings but that the Health and Safety Executive will work with the industry to find technical solutions to address the risks around timber-framed construction (10 January).

A new report from the House Builders Federation shows that planning permissions to build new homes have fallen significantly from 2007/08 levels, hitting one of the lowest levels in the past five years and the second lowest of the past 19 quarters. Permissions granted for homes typically take up to three years and household formation projections show that the country needs to build around 232,000 homes a year until 2033, but according to the figures from the HBF report 2009’s total will be just 118,000 (7 January).

TRANSPORT

Crossrail chief executive Rob Holden has announced that after almost two years with the organisation he will step down from his current role later this year (12 January).

The Highways Agency has announced that Alan Cook has been appointed as the first ever non-executive chairman of the Highways Agency board. The new post has been created to increase efficiency and provide independent advice to transport secretary Philip Hammond (12 January).

 

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