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Construction Parliamentary Update - 30 September 2011

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


Dan Labbad appointed as co-Chair of the new Green Construction Board by Business Minister Mark Prisk

Dan Labbad, an experienced property and construction executive, who is currently Chief Executive Officer of Europe, Middle East & Africa for Lend Lease, will take up his position immediately and will sit alongside Mark Prisk, who is also co-Chair. The Green Construction Board will allow Government and the UK construction industry to work closely together to develop and put in place a long-term strategic framework for the promotion of innovation and sustainable growth in the industry. Business Minister and co-Chair of the Green Construction Board Mark Prisk said:”Greening the property and construction sector is a great challenge and a massive opportunity. By greening their own operations, pulling green practices through their supply chains and providing better, greener, buildings and infrastructure, we can not only make the transition to a greener economy but seize an opportunity for growth at the same time.” (29 September)


NHS trusts endangered by new-build PFI contracts, says minister

More than twenty NHS trusts are “on the brink of financial collapse” because of the legacy of Private Finance Initiative new build schemes, according to health secretary Andrew Lansley. Lansley said 22 trusts, which between them run 60 hospitals, were in danger of damaging patient care because of the financial burden put on them by PFI contracts. The Department of Health estimates that the use of PFI contracts for new hospitals built by Labour could ultimately see an extra £20bn spent by the NHS.Lansley told Radio 4’s Today Programme that: “We’re not going to let hospitals collapse financially.” (22 September)


National Trust petition attracts 100,000 signatures

Over 100,000 people have now signed a National Trust petition urging David Cameron to rethink his proposed planning reforms. The charity believes the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) puts short-term economic gain ahead of all other considerations, notably the impact on individual communities and the preservation of the green belt. The Prime Minister wrote to the trust in person last week after its Director General Dame Fiona Reynolds said she would not enter discussions with Planning Minister Greg Clark unless she received assurances that “the planning system is not there principally to promote economic development”. (28 September)

Clark hints at planning compromise

Planning Minister Greg Clark appeared to pave the way for concessions over the wording of the National Planning Framework in a seminar organised by the British Property Federation. In particular Clark referred to the proposed watering down of the “brownfield first” development presumption in the current planning system, as an area where ministers could be persuaded to look again. He also accepted that some parts of the draft NPPF were not worded clearly; saying that was inevitable given the task of reducing over 3,000 pages of guidance to just over 50, and saying the government would consider a clearer definition of “sustainable development”. (21 September)


1,000-home north London scheme wins planning

A 1,000-home scheme in north London has been awarded outline planning permission by the London Borough of Haringey. The Make-designed scheme will be built on the site of Hornsey’s old gas works and will centre around a new public square, named Clarendon Square. The clients on the project are National Grid Property and the London Development Agency. Adrian Cross, commercial property manager at National Grid said: “Haringey council’s decision to resolve to grant planning represents an important milestone in the regeneration of this strategically important site.” (26 September)

Tax bankers to pay for 25,000 new homes, says Balls

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has called for a repeat of the bank bonus tax to pay for the construction of 25,000 new homes, and the bringing forward of school and transport construction jobs. Balls used his inaugural Labour Party conference speech as shadow chancellor to call for a rethink from the coalition government on cutting spending, and outlined five key moves to increase economic growth. (26 September)

Government prepares ‘major boost’ to housing

The government will launch a major initiative to boost housing supply before the end of the year, Communities Minister Andrew Stunell told the Liberal Democrat conference. Speaking at a fringe event on housing hosted by the RIBA, communities minister Andrew Stunell said that a significant announcement on the release of public land was due before Christmas. He said: “There will be a major announcement on that that I’m not authorised to talk about.” Stunell also spoke about what he claimed were intractable problems associated with tackling the housing crisis, telling RIBA president Angela Brady that the institute’s new campaign on space standards would produce unintended consequences. (23 September)


Options for growth - rail industry unveils plans for the future of the railway

The rail industry has published its vision for how it can deliver better value for money and play a key role in driving sustainable economic growth. The Initial Industry Plan (IIP) sets out how the industry could build on recent improvements in cost efficiency and cut the cost of running the railway by £1.3bn per annum by 2019. These savings, combined with growth, could see the annual cost of the railway to the taxpayer reduced. This would be achieved through initiatives already in hand, greater cross-industry collaboration and changes in the way government procures passenger rail services. (29 September)

Labour calls for high speed rail line to be extended

Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle has called for the proposed high speed rail line from London to Birmingham to be extended to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Eagle used her keynote speech at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool to criticise the coalition’s decision to concentrate just on building the line to Birmingham, which she said “casts real doubt” on its long-term commitment to delivering high-speed rail in the north of the UK. (26 September)


Ten teams shortlisted for Olympic Park legacy work

Ten teams led by international architects including David Kohn, Ushida Findley, Heneghan Peng and West 8 have been shortlisted in a competition to design two major new areas for the post-games Olympic Park. The Olympic Park Legacy Company announced the shortlist of teams for the south park and the north park - which together it says will bring a “vibrant mix of cultural events, beautiful spaces and recreational uses”. The centrepiece of the new work will be a major new public space to welcome crowds to the south park. Sitting between the aquatics centre, the stadium, the ArcelorMittal Orbit and the 2012 gardens, this will include a visitor centre, water features, play facilities and host festivals and performances. (23 September)


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