“Positive project news continues in July after the EU referendum result”
- London’s £500m Toblerone towers scheme approved
- Manchester skyscrapers get planning approval
- Office building returns to pre-recession levels
- Contractors turn to computer games to solve skills crisis
- ECA responds to referendum result
- Dads encouraged to discuss their trade with daughters in relation with National Women in Egineering Day
- Business as usual after Brexit says BSRIA
- Screwfix partners with Scottish minister for employability and training to help tradespeople hire apprentices
- £320 million to be invested in ‘central heating for cities’
- Ambitious Fifth Carbon Budget welcomed by sustainability industry
- Green gas could deliver decarbonised heat to the UK
- Quality Plumber Week 2016 aiming to encourage a new generation of plumbers
London’s £500m Toblerone towers scheme approved
Ambitious plans for six new towers in South London’s Elephant and Castle regeneration have been nodded through by planners.
The £500m scheme has been nicknamed the Toblerone towers because of the triangular shape of the main blocks ranging up in height from eight to 40 floors.
Designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill the buildings will provide a mix of 500,000 sq ft of office space and 400 homes.
Developer London & Regional Properties must first demolish Department of Health offices at the 1993 built Skipton House, London South Bank University’s Perry Library and the Keyworth Street Hostel for homeless men.
The developer has pledged to construct affordable housing to the value of £16.8m on several sites in the close vicinity.
Arup is the main structural and facade engineer with Norman Disney & Young deliver M&E design.
Because of the scale of the proposed scheme the London Mayor will have the final say on the development plan.
Geoffrey Springer, head of development at London & Regional said: “We are proposing a significant investment in the regeneration of Elephant & Castle, which will celebrate the area’s cultural heritage.
“This will be an iconic development, providing new cultural and community space and, most importantly, new jobs and homes. The development will also deliver new open space and a vastly improved public realm, strengthening the ongoing regeneration of Elephant and Castle.”
Manchester skyscrapers get planning approval
The 64-storey Owen Street skyscraper will contain 496 apartments and will trump the neighbouring 48-floor Beetham Tower.
The tower will be built alongside three slightly smaller buildings near Deansgate railway station, on land previously used as a car park.
The tallest will be 200.5 metres tall. The other three are 37-, 44- and 50-storeys high, reaching 122-, 140- and 158-metres respectively.
Tower B is 50 floors and 157.9 metres tall, Tower C is 37-storeys and 122 metres tall and Tower D is 44 floors and 140.4 metres tall.
The developer is CQ Investments, part of the Renaker Build group of companies.
The scheme, designed by SimpsonHaugh & Partners, also includes basement car parking and a cinema. The four main towers will range between 37 and 64 storeys, and include 1,508 apartments in total, with a further three-storey building housing a tennis court, swimming pool and retail units.
Andy Finch, head of sales at Renaker Build, said: “We are thrilled to have received permission for our latest development which will be the first within the Great Jackson Street framework, creating a new community at the southern gateway to the core of Manchester city centre.”
WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff provided building services engineering. Director Ian Standring said: “Planning approval for the Owen Street towers is a real sign of confidence in Manchester’s property market, and we’re excited to be working as part of the design team on what will be an iconic scheme for the city.”
Office building returns to pre-recession levels
Office construction reached a post-recession peak in the first quarter of 2016, with more than £2 billion worth of contracts awarded, the highest figure since 2008, including six major developments worth over £50 million.
According to the latest figures from industry analysts Barbour ABI on behalf of the Office for National Statistics, office construction new orders have been gradually increasing since 2012, where in the first quarter new orders were worth £890 million, compared to more than double in the first quarter of 2016.
Some of the major developments include Glasgow’s 122 Waterloo Street offices, 10 storeys high and worth £90 million, the £50 million Energis House in Reading and One Capital Square development in Cardiff worth £30 million.
Commenting on the figures, Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, said, “Office availability is at its lowest for 15 years across London, with many other parts of the UK in a similar position, due to below average office development since the recession. However this past quarter is encouraging with major developments spread right across the UK.
“There are major towns and cities such as Liverpool, Glasgow & Cardiff in vital need of more grade A office space. However Manchester in particular stands out, as it requires an extra 3 million sq ft of office space over the next ten years if it’s to keep up with the city’s forecasted economic growth.
“With the demand so high it is not surprising to see figures reach record post-recession levels, which I see continuing throughout 2016, barring any worries regarding the EU referendum that may stutter future progress.”
Contractors turn to computer games to solve skills crisis
‘Craft your Future’ is aimed at 12-14 year olds and takes place in the popular gaming world of Minecraft.
The Enquirer understands that a number of contractors and leading clients are looking at adopting the game in a bid to win young minds.
The CIOb has launched a series of four freely available Minecraft Education Lessons, that can be downloaded by teachers anywhere and accessed via the Minecraft Education Platform.
Students encounter a variety of problems that reflect construction challenges in cities today.
The lessons take place in Newtown, a specially created virtual city in Minecraft, to design, plan, collaborate and build solutions that develop a sustainable future for all its citizens.
Exercises also include real life scenarios like the challenge of restoring Battersea Power Station.
Bridget Bartlett deputy chief executive at the CIOB said: “Combining Minecraft and a thorough curriculum for the teacher makes for a unique and immersive experience and will help reveal why the industry is important and why a career in construction can be so rewarding.
“There are 70 million people playing Minecraft and just like Lego it has the capacity to inspire and attract a new wave of construction managers into an ever-increasing digital industry.
“What is exciting is that these young learners will not only have fun but also develop their communication, team working and mathematics skills; skills that construction has a high demand for.
“The lessons are designed to be teacher friendly and we hope construction employers will also want to use them in schools as they bid to switch the next generation onto a career in construction.”
For more information on the project click here
ECA responds to referendum result
Following the result of the EU referendum, Steve Bratt, Group CEO of the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), has called for the industry to continue to focus on the key issues that will affect its future.
“The legal situation today is still the same as the legal situation yesterday,” he said. “We are still in the European Union, and will be for at least the next two years, so the industry needs to focus on its immediate priorities: improving the commercial terms we work with, adapting to and embracing emerging technologies, and ensuring we have a skills base that is fit for the future.”
Steve Bratt also called on the Government to focus on increasing economic stability and managing the UK’s relationship with the rest of the world.
He said, “The immediate priority for Government is to work towards increasing confidence and stability in the economy, and creating an environment to encourage investment in construction and the wider engineering services sector. Many project approvals and starts were deferred as a result of the lack of clarity around the UK’s future in Europe, and the Government and the National Infrastructure Commission need to make the necessary decisions and investments to ensure this delay does not extend any further and harm the sector and the businesses within it.”
Steve Bratt continued, “We urge Government to think carefully before any agreements are reached that will impact on fundamental sector issues such as safety and skills. Investment in a skilled workforce is at the heart of our sector’s success and we want to see this further improved and supported.”
He concluded, “The ECA will continue to play a leading role within the wider engineering services sector and the business community, and will work with Government to help create the best conditions for prosperity – and to ensure that our members and our industry are in the best position to survive and thrive.”
Dads encouraged to discuss their trade with daughters in relation with National Women in Egineering Day
Three quarters of male electricians recently surveyed, would be happy for their daughters to take up a career in the trade. However, a similar percentage feel old-school attitudes towards women would actively discourage females from taking up a trade.
The survey of electrical contractors was carried out by leading electrical industry body NICEIC. Its Jobs for the Girls campaign was set up to encourage more women into the trade and to plug the increasing skills and gender gaps.
Emma Clancy, CEO of NICEIC, said, “Dads have an important role to play in shaping the career choices of their daughters – particularly in the trades sector where many children follow in their father’s footsteps.
“As part of National Women in Engineering Day, we would encourage dads to talk about their trade to their daughters – particularly as up to 75% of contractors would be happy to see their daughters become an electrician.”
Since launching the Jobs for the Girls campaign in 2011 NICEIC is seeing a growing interest in women wanting to take up a trade. However, the numbers are still painfully low.
Emma added, “It was interesting to note that many men feel certain attitudes from another era, still exist today.
“That is something we all have a duty to eradicate. I would encourage dads who do come across such attitudes to take a stand and think about how they might feel if it was their daughter working in the industry.”
The survey of over 100 electrical contractors found that 90% of father’s believe that it is their responsibility to advise their daughters on their career choices. However, only one in five dads said their child had received any information from school or careers advice service about trade opportunities.
For more information about Jobs for the Girls and how to get into the trade, visit www.jobsforthegirls.com
Business as usual after Brexit says BSRIA
After the decision for the UK to leave the EU, BSRIA says it is ‘business as usual’ for its members and that the construction industry should remain confident and optimistic about the opportunities out there for existing and new industry projects.
Indeed BSRIA is committed to giving ‘extra service to members’ throughout this uncertain time.
Julia Evans, chief executive, BSRIA, (pictured right) said, “Now that the dust has settled a week on from the Brexit decision – for BSRIA it is definitely business as usual – we are where we are. There are opportunities out there for our members to garner new work and deals – we all just need to find them.
“Against a backdrop of political and ‘economic spaghetti’ BSRIA can lead and support its members into a bright new future. It is a brave new world. We appreciate there is certainly political turmoil, noise and volatility in Westminster – but BSRIA needs to join in this debate. As an industry – we must now start to shape future policy.
“Indeed it is a chance to revise industry regulations and to renegotiate the framework for the future and find new trade rules. We need to protect what has already been invested in and make the most of our assets – especially – investments and buildings. And ensure that investors have confidence in our industry.
“I was especially encouraged to learn that government ministers have begun efforts to reassure industry leaders that housing and infrastructure spending will not drop and in fact both will become ‘more important, not less’ after Brexit. The Mayor of London has also announced to boost housing.”
Industry cannot afford any period of parliamentary inaction and uncertainty on non-EU related issues, whether two years or more in length, and BSRIA seeks urgent reassurance from government that this will not be the case.
Screwfix partners with Scottish minister for employability and training to help tradespeople hire apprentices
Screwfix’s Scottish Apprentice Guide has been launched to help tradespeople understand how easy it is to hire an apprentice.
The Minister for Employability and Training, Jamie Hepburn, visited a Screwfix store in Edinburgh on 6 July to launch the guide.
The free booklet is available in Screwfix stores across Scotland and is entitled ‘Your Guide to Hiring an Apprentice’.
The booklet was developed with national skills body – Skills Development Scotland – which pay a contribution towards the cost of training apprentices.
It was released by Screwfix in conjunction with the Minister for Employability and Training in response to research revealing that tradespeople want an increase in the availability of skilled workers through the encouragement of apprenticeships, plus help in understanding how to take apprentices on.
The easy-to-use, free information source is designed to expose many of the myths surrounding apprenticeships.
As a pocket-sized guide, it includes everything those in the trade need to know in bite-size chunks – from the benefits of taking on an apprentice, to where to go first and the help available.
Screwfix released the guide in response to feedback from its trade customers. Many of the plumbers, electricians, builders, carpenters and other tradespeople questioned by the Screwfix poll have little or no experience of taking on apprentices, with only 14% having employed one in the last year.
Graham Bell, operations director of Screwfix, comments, “As a key supplier to the trade, we’re always looking for ways to support tradespeople in growing their businesses – from enabling them to get the right products at the right time to finding out and helping to address the issues that matter most. We understand how vital apprentices are as the future lifeblood of the trade, but it’s clear from what our customers are telling us that more needs to be done to simplify the process of hiring one.
“We have developed this guide to help tradespeople who have little or no experience of apprentices. Whether they’re looking to find out a bit more about who to hire an apprentice through, or the financial support available to them to help with taking one on, we encourage interested tradespeople to pick up their free guide from one of our 31 stores in Scotland now.”
Minister for Employability and Training, Jamie Hepburn, said, “Modern Apprentices make a real contribution to the Scottish economy, apprenticeships offer our young people better career prospects and have a positive impact on the businesses and industry, bringing value to both employers and the economy. The Scottish Government has supported nearly 200,000 MAs since 2007 and we surpassed our target to deliver 25,500 modern apprenticeships in 2015/16. We are determined to keep growing the number of opportunities for people to secure a Modern Apprenticeship and by 2020 will be delivering 30,000 places.”
To download a copy of the guide, visit www.Screwfix.com/apprenticeguide
Last year, Screwfix launched its Tradesman Manifesto, which highlighted the desire of UK tradesmen and women to hire their own apprentices, and called upon the Government to support this increase in the trades. Many of the plumbers, electricians, builders, carpenters and other tradespeople questioned, had little or no experience of taking on apprentices with only a small percentage taking on an apprentice in the last year.
In response to this, Screwfix alongside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills launched a handy guide for tradespeople to pick up in store offering guidance and funding advice on how to go about hiring an apprentice. Theresa was keen to learn more about how Screwfix is helping people in the trades hire apprentices.
For one in three tradespeople, cost is the biggest barrier to taking on an apprentice and research shows more available funding would allow small businesses to hire and train the tradesmen and women of tomorrow.
John Mewett commented, “As a key supplier to the trade, we have a great relationship with our trade customers and can really help amplify their voice by getting their message across on visits like today’s.
“Many of our customers are busier than ever right now so it’s important we work closely with the wider industry and the Government to consider ways to help them and to encourage growth in their businesses.”
£320 million to be invested in ‘central heating for cities’
£320 million will be invested over the next five years in heat network schemes across the UK, in order to supply low carbon heat to homes and businesses.
The government is now consulting on how best to deploy the £320 million fund allocated in the Spending Review for investment in heat networks.
Dubbed ‘central heating for cities’, heat networks are already used widely across Scandinavian cities to keep homes warm in winter. The government believes heat networks have the potential to reduce heating costs by more than 30% in some households, with the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) dubbing the investment “exciting news for the country’s towns and cities”.
Instead of having individual heaters in each building, a heat network comprises a big central heat source (or more than one source), heat from which is then piped to a number of buildings.
Heat can be taken from a range of sources including large heat pumps, combined heat and power plants and deep geothermal plants, which take heat from underground rocks miles below the surface of the earth. It is then pumped around homes and businesses, potentially bringing down the cost of energy bills and it also helps to reduce carbon emissions.
DECC believes heat from waste incinerator plants can also be harnessed in this way, distributing it to nearby homes and businesses.
Amber Rudd MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: “This is an important next step in developing more home-grown energy, which is a vital part of our plan to ensure long-term energy security and affordable energy for our families and businesses. The funding we’re consulting on today will enable these schemes to provide affordable low carbon energy to thousands of homes and businesses across Britain’s towns and cities.”
More information on the consultation can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-the-heat-networks-investment-project-hnip.
Ambitious Fifth Carbon Budget welcomed by sustainability industry
The UK’s Fifth Carbon Budget, announced in parliament on 30 June by Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, has set out a new legally binding emissions reduction target for 2030.
The Budget aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 57% compared to 1990 levels during the period 2028 to 2032, and 80% by 2050, as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.
IEMA says this decision gives a clear and positive signal of the UK’s transition to a low carbon and sustainable economy at a critical time for UK environment policy.
“This decision comes at a critical time for the UK and provides much needed clarity on the long-term direction of travel towards a low-carbon economy,” said Martin Baxter, IEMA’s chief policy advisor.
“Post Brexit, our future prosperity is increasingly dependent on us seizing the opportunity to make the necessary changes to address long-term sustainability challenges. Climate change is a defining issue of our time and significant opportunities exist to create jobs, boost productivity and enhance competitiveness by reducing our carbon emissions,” he continued.
“Achieving the 2030 target will require concerted action and investment. The recent referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU makes the job harder but not impossible. The true test of climate leadership is about sustaining the implementation of policies to achieve long-term climate goals.
“This decision on the fifth carbon budget provides the basis for giving confidence for investment, innovation, progressive transformation and effective action over the long-term. It must also be reinforced with a clear, post-Brexit, confirmation of the UK’s international commitments and UK ratification of the Paris climate agreement.”
Trade association RenewableUK said the announcement underlines a strong UK framework for continued investment in renewables.
“This announcement is especially welcome given the uncertainty caused by last week’s referendum. It’s a clear signal that the UK will continue to show bold leadership on carbon reduction. This will allow investment to continue to flow into renewable energy projects throughout the UK,” said RenewableUK’s chief executive, Hugh McNeal.
Phil Hurley, managing director at renewable heating manufacturer NIBE, also praised the carbon budget’s long-term commitment to tackling climate change, but has called for more robust action in the wake of the EU referendum.
“There’s no denying the uncertainty that’s facing the renewable heating industry following the decision to leave the EU. While we still have a long way to go before stability returns, the long-term goal set out in today’s fifth carbon budget is an important first step,” said My Hurley.
“This much-needed injection of confidence shows that the government is still very much committed to building a lower carbon future for the UK. Despite all the unanswered questions about our ongoing relationship with the rest of Europe – and how this will impact a renewable heating industry that’s been largely driven by EU directives – the UK now has a 2030 target that’s significantly more ambitious than the EU’s own.
“What we need now is a clear strategy to support deployment of renewable heating technologies on the necessary scale – including meeting the challenge of installing 6.8 million domestic heat pumps by 2030. This means reassurance about the future of current legislative frameworks. Priorities should be the Energy-related Products (ErP) Directive, as well as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).”
Isaac Occhipinti, Head of External Affairs at Energy & Utilities Alliance (EUA) said: “Tackling climate change requires a strong commitment and the Fifth Carbon Budget offers this. However, if we are to turn out commitment into a reality a robust policy framework is needed. The current lack of policy and the need for greater implementation of existing policy is at least recognised but this alone won’t deliver the necessary changes.
EUA and its divisions will continue to work with DECC to identify an action plan and also overcome the current challenges, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The budget mirrors EUA thinking on RHI, that the existing tariff payments offer little to help tackle the substantial upfront costs of installing renewable technologies.
“We also need to support the research and development of ‘mainstream’ green gas as a low carbon alternative fuel source. Injecting green gas directly into the gas grid is the best and most cost effective way of decarbonising heat. The gas grid currently delivers gas into the homes of over 85% of the UK population and there is little appetite to simply abandon gas and start again with a new system, not to mention the enormous costs involved, so green gas, whether biogas, bioSNG or even hydrogen offers a very real solution to delivering seasonable heat demand in a low carbon way.
“The projected gap of 100 MtCO2e (or 47% of the required reductions) between our current trajectory and where we need to be,as reported in the 2016 progress report to Parliament is frightening but by; identifying a solid strategy, investing cleverly and working together, EUA believes we can deliver.”
Green gas could deliver decarbonised heat to the UK
The Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) has responded to the annual Future Energy Scenarios (FES) publication from National Grid, and called for more to be done to decarbonise UK heating by directly injecting green gas into the national mains-gas grid.
Isaac Occhipinti, head of external affairs, said: “We welcome this report from National Grid as it acts as a catalyst to start a stimulating and thought provoking debate, using four possible energy scenarios. EUA recognises that decarbonisation will continue to drive the agenda, with heat and power being joined by the transport sector as a target to drive down emissions, while still maintaining security and affordability. We need a clear pathway to decarbonise heat, one which recognises that behavioural change and cost are integral factors to achieving the required outcomes.
“We believe that gas will remain the primary heating fuel beyond the 2040s. The fact that the gas grid currently delivers gas into the homes of over 85% of the UK population, coupled with the very large investment needed to change this, suggests that gas, albeit green gas will be a vital component of the UK’s energy infrastructure for many years to come.
“The opportunity afforded by injecting green gas directly into the grid – whether biomethane, synthetic natural gas or hydrogen – will allow the gas grid to be decarbonised without homeowners needing to take action and with little additional investment.”
The EUA also highlighted the government’s recent adoption of the fifth carbon budget, which sets new and legally-binding emissions reduction targets for 2030. In order to achieve this, Mr Occhipinti said the industry needs a strong commitment and a robust policy framework in place.
“EUA and its divisions will continue to work with DECC to identify an action plan and also overcome the current challenges,” he said, noting that the budget has suggested the existing Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs offer little help to tackle the upfront costs of installing renewable technologies.
“We also need to support the research and development of ‘mainstream’ green gas as a low carbon alternative fuel source. Injecting green gas directly into the gas grid is the best and most cost effective way of decarbonising heat. There is little appetite to simply abandon gas and start again with a new system, not to mention the enormous costs involved, so green gas, whether biogas, bioSNG or even hydrogen offers a very real solution to delivering seasonable heat demand in a low carbon way.”
The EUA comprises six organisational divisions – Utility Networks, the Heating & Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC), the Industrial & Commercial Energy Association (ICOM), the Hot Water Association (HWA), the Manufacturers’ Association of Radiators and Convectors (MARC) and the Natural Gas Vehicles Network (NGV Network).
Quality Plumber Week 2016 aiming to encourage a new generation of plumbers
The Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC) has announced that its week long campaign Quality Plumber Week will be returning again this year to celebrate the work of the UK’s professional plumbing and heating installers and encourage more young people to consider a career in the industry.
Running from 3 to 9 October to coincide with what is traditionally the busiest time of the year for installers, the week aims to bring the entire community together to shine a spotlight on the vital role plumbers play in our communities, from fixing burst pipes and broken boilers to providing essential advice on heating technologies and water saving.
Following new research conducted by the APHC, which reveals that 86% of people believe young people should be encouraged to consider an apprenticeship as an alternative to university, Quality Plumber Week will also be focusing on promoting plumbing as a respected and skilled career path for school leavers.
To raise awareness of the campaign, APHC will be running a Mega Trade Giveaway, offering installers the chance to win a fantastic bundle of prizes including a Bosch Professional Cordless Hammer Drill and Sharkbite starter kit at the end of the week. To be in with a chance of winning, all installers have to do is post on Facebook about why they’re backing #QPW16 or retweet any APHC post during the week.
Closer to the date, plumbers will be able to get involved with downloadable resources from the Quality Plumber Week area of the website, including a template release for plumbers and suppliers to distribute to their local press, suggested social media links, various plumbing factoids and more information on the week.
John Thompson, chief executive of APHC, said: “We are pleased to announce the return of our Quality Plumber Week campaign this year, which aims to promote the vital work of plumbing and heating professionals whilst reducing numbers of rogue traders. We hope that the entire industry will join us in celebrating the work of the UK’s quality plumbers and encouraging the next generation to consider a future in this rewarding and well respected trade.”