£30 million flood prevention scheme works underway in Yorkshire.

floodThe Environment Agency has submitted plans seeking permission for a series of flood defences to alleviate flooding around the Yorkshire village of Mytholmroyd, expected to cost approximately £30 million, as part of a wider plan to prevent flooding in the surrounding area.

The submission follows the publication of an action plan, commissioned by the Environment Secretary last year, following flooding in the area in 2015. Caused by extreme rainfall in the Upper Calder Valley, around 370 properties in the village were affected. Since then, the Environment Agency has been working with Calderdale Council to draw up plans to reduce the risk of flooding across the region.

This particular phase for the works is expected to include new, raised or improved walls, widening of the River Calder at key points, strengthening and waterproofing properties next to the river and the relocation of the Caldene Bridge. These works follows current demolition works to properties in the village to prevent further collapse should the river flood again; in addition to works to clear river channels, repair wall and make safe damaged buildings.

Six schemes have already been completed in the Calder Valley to help reduce flood risk to approximately 500 homes across Calderdale. It is hoped that construction will commence in November, under a joint venture by VolkerStevin, Boskalis Westminster and Atkins; with more plans to be submitted in the near future in order to extend the flood alleviation scheme to other nearby locations, including the possibility of widening the river at an industrial estate just outside the village.

One of the largest demolition contracts of 2017 now available

diggerOne of the biggest demolition contacts likely to become available this year is now up for grabs. Shoreline Housing Partnership has declared that six blocks of flats, each fifteen storeys high, in the East Marsh area of Grimsby, will have to be demolished as renovating the blocks will not be cost effective.

The housing charity is now seeking demolition contractors, and is in the process of finalising how the proposed works should proceed. One block, Bevan House, must be torn down due to its location and proximity to other buildings. Another, Tennyson House, is suitable for explosive demolition. The possible demolition process for the other four blocks, Albion House, Nelson House, Garibaldi House and Thesiger House are under consideration, with contractors are permitted to submit explosive demolition proposals for them in addition to the expected tear-down solution.

Pre-Qualification Questionnaires must be submitted by mid-September, with the work to strip out and weaken the building expected to take approximately one year and to commence in early 2018.

Overground extension approved to give Barking Riverside development huge boost

BRA £263 million extension to London Overground services to the new Barking Riverside development has recently been approved. Linking Barking Riverside to Barking and through Barking to overground services into the city centre and out to Essex; and via the London Underground with the District and Hammersmith & City lines, the extension approval is a huge milestone for the massive development project in East London.

The 4.5 km extension has been fully funded, with £172 million from the developers of Barking Riverside and the rest from Transport for London’s Growth Fund, which supports projects that have direct impact on unlocking housing or employment growth. The contracts to construct the extension are due to be awarded in the Spring of 2018, with work to commence in the Summer of the same year. Train services are due to commence late 2021.

Barking Riverside is one of the largest regeneration projects underway in the United Kingdom. The 443-acre site, formerly home to Barking Power Station, will also benefit from riverboat services, a network of cycle routs and extensive bus routes linking it to the rest of London. There will be 10,800 homes of mixed sizes and styles, from terraced family homes, to townhouses, to waterside apartments, with a commitment that at least 35% will be affordable homes. In addition, 65,000 square metres of space has been designated for commercial use; there will be a new secondary school for 1700 pupils, five new primary schools and a Special Educational Needs school. There will also be leisure, community and healthcare facilities, public squares and other public spaces incorporated into the development. The development is due to progress in four phases over a 15 year period, with work already underway.

SME construction firms offered opportunities on £180 million Housing Association framework

best-paid-trades-and-industriesJV North, comprising of 11 social housing association members covering Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Nottingham and Preston, have designed a new portal to offer contracts valued under £1 million to SMEs in the second stage of a four-year  home building and refurbishment framework worth £180 million.

The new, specially designed portal, the Dynamic Purchasing System, is easy to use and applicants can join at any point of the four-year period covered by the framework. Once SMEs have been selected, JV North members will tender to the successful applicants as and when they have contracts up to the value of £1 million available.  Members are expected to have a significant amount of refurbishment schemes valued under £1 million over the next four years, many of which will be perfectly suited to smaller contractors.

The new, simplified process has been designed to appeal to SMEs who can be put off by lengthy procurement procedures or who believe the projects are too big for them or would be taken by larger contractors. This also allows JV North members to support local economies by investing in regional businesses.

The list of potential suppliers for members to work with will be unlimited, with contracts divided into six types – new build, refurbishment, modular build, disabled adaptations, supported housing and fire safety. SME contractors can apply for any or all of the lots. The four-year plan is expected to commence in September of this year, and follows the recent announcement of twelve contractors and consultants chosen for the framework for schemes valued in excess of £1 million.

Report published suggests new Midlands Rail Hub could boost economy by £2 billion

Rail HubNational Rail has recently published a report suggesting a new Midlands Rail Hub could see a £2 billion boost to the economy over the next 10 to 30 years. The West Midlands and Chilterns Route study states that a Hub could, by improving access to London from the Chiltern Main Line by connecting it with HS2 and then Crossrail, significantly enhance economic productivity.

The report estimates that by creating the Hub, it would allow up to 150 extra trains every day in and out of Birmingham which would mean 85,000 additional seats as well as improving connectivity between the East and West Midlands. It is seen as vital that the existing rail network connects with the new HS2 route and the huge economic benefits it is expected to deliver. The study also highlights that the rail industry must plan now for improvements needed to meet expected future increased demand from passengers, thereby supporting economic growth by linking people with jobs and opportunities, as well as goods and services.

This report follows an interim report published last year by Midlands Connect – comprising of 28 Local Authorities and 11 Local Enterprise partnerships – which made a number of recommendations. Their report concluded that a Midlands Rail Hub could potentially deliver a £200 million boost per year to the local economy and up to 250,000 jobs. They suggest that growth sites near new HS2 stations need to be integrated into existing rail networks with HS2 potentially sharing development costs and perhaps even taking possession of any such Hub. The report states that one quarter of local professional organisations were “likely” or “highly likely” to relocate if transport connections were not improved and calls for increased franchises and faster journey times in the region as the only way of ensuring overcrowding does not occur by 2023. They have suggested an extra ten trains each way per hour for Birmingham to deliver significant economic benefits.

The Midlands Rail Hub is seen as part of a programme of improvements to improve access to Birmingham’s new HS2 station at Curzon Street and the hoped-for ten new services per hour would serve and expanded Moor Street Station which is seen as a key gateway to an adjacent HS2 station. It is hoped that some key elements of the proposals could be in place for the predicted opening of HS2 in 2026.

Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal announced

edinburghLast month saw the long awaited signing of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal, delayed by the General Election in the Spring. The City Deals are a mechanism for accelerating growth by pulling in significant government investment for infrastructure, skills and innovation to boost economic performance, thereby attracting private investment and raising funds to pay back the initial investment.

The six local authorities – East Lothian, the City of Edinburgh, Fife, Midlothian, West Lothian and the Scottish Borders, signed the deal with the Scottish Government, the UK Government and other regional partners, such as the University of Edinburgh. Both governments committed to investing £300 million each over the next 15 years, with the regional partners investing £500 million between them over the same time period. In addition, the scheme is expected to generate over £5 billion in Gross Value Added.

£300 million is going towards world-leading data innovation centres, with five innovation hubs including those for robotics and space technologies. £140 million is allocated to upgrading the City Bypass A720 with a flyover at the heavily-congested Sherriffhall Roundabout and other improvements to transport links in West Edinburgh. £20 million is being contributed towards a new world-class concert hall in Edinburgh city centre, seating 1,000 and the new home to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. £25 million is being invested into regional skills programmes to support improved career opportunities for disadvantaged groups and £65 million of funding will be spent on housing, to unlock strategic development sites across the region.

Edinburgh city and the surrounding region is an area of huge importance to the Scottish economy, containing over a quarter of Scotland’s population and contributing £33 billion to the Scottish and UK economies. The significant investment in innovation and culture – for which the region is well-known- is expected to create approximately 21,000 jobs, improving prosperity, driving private investment and boosting tourism. The allocation of funds to accelerate affordable housing and the development of the region’s people through skills programmes will help ensure the area is vibrant and inclusive going forward. The Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal was the fourth to be announced, following those for Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen, with more expected to follow in due course.

Places won by six contractors on £750 million North East universities framework

Newcastle-University-Sports-Centre-July-2017-600x414It was recently announced that six construction firms have secured their places on a framework to exclusively bid to deliver large-scale construction projects to five universities based in the North East of England.

The North Eastern Universities Purchasing Consortium (NEUPC) is one of six consortia nationwide designed to maximise third party expenditure within the Higher Education sector. Consisting of the Universities of Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside, this Major Construction Works Framework will span eight years and has been designed to meet member’s major capital projects, which are believed to be worth between £4 million and £30 million each. The NEUPC is currently the largest and most complex Higher Education framework undertaken, worth £750 million.

The six successful construction firms are Clugston Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine, BAM Construction Limited, Bowmer & Kirkland, Galliford Try and Robertson. The first construction project has already been awarded within the framework to Clugston Construction, which will commence work in January 2018 on the new University of Newcastle Sports Centre, providing new modern sports halls, running tracks, gymnasiums and courts worth £17 million at the Richardson Road site. Once completed, the sports centre will become a centre of excellence in sports science.

It is hoped that the framework agreement will see significant savings for the universities involved, driven by competition between the framework contractors, and it is expected that social value will be added through working with these specific contractors who all have strong SME supply chains. Projects will be varied, but will typically involve teaching facilities, laboratories, sports facilities and conference facilities. Dependent on performance, contracts could be renewed for up to eight years. The next project to be offered for tender will be the £50 million Newcastle University’s National Innovation Centre which is due to commence construction in December.

Government announces first contract award in planned refurbishment of Parliament

houses-648143The Grade I listed Palace of Westminster, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the “Mother of All Parliaments” is in desperate need of refurbishment, and, after years of debate and delays, the first steps are being taken to begin a programme of renovation.

BDP and CH2M will work together in a £12 million contract to lay the groundwork for a long-term strategy, expected to cost around £4 billion. BDP will supply architecture and building design services and CH2M will be in charge of programme, project and cost management services. Initially, they will undertake a detailed exploration of the condition of the buildings, then further develop a security strategy, design plans for a major programme of asbestos removal and make much-needed fire safety improvements.

Designed by Charles Barry and home to the House of Lords since 1847 and the House of Commons since 1852, the Palace of Westminster currently has an annual repair bill in excess of £30 million. With Big Ben affected by subsidence, a leaking roof, disintegrating stonework, some pipework in excess of 100 years old and no full fire-safety containment system recommended for historic buildings, many of the major systems in the Palace have never undergone a major renovation. The water, heating, ventilation, drainage and electrical systems are antiquated – the mechanical and electrical systems were last renewed in the 1940’s and have been due for replacement since the 1980’s. There is also little disabled access and some of the lifts are over 100 years old.

The renovation of the Palace of Westminster will be one of the largest major restorations in the history of the public sector, and debate continues on the scale and scope of the work to be undertaken. There are a variety of options on the table, from Parliament vacating the premises entirely for six years to allow work to be carried out at a cost of £3.5 billion, to a complex rolling system of works with over 32 years at a cost of £5.7 billion. At a time of public cuts and intense competition for public spending, the process of decision-making is complex with a need to ensure the most value for money for taxpayers whilst protecting and preserving the heritage of one of the world’s most iconic buildings, and maintaining the ongoing work of the mechanics of government.

A cross-party restoration and renewal committee of peers and MPs, as well as the Treasury Select Committee are investigating options; acknowledging work must be carried out but seeking evidence to help with the decision-making process. It is hoped that, by awarding this contract, the first steps are being taken towards the goal of fulfilling the full restoration programme, with the hope that further contracts will be awarded in the near future.

Calls for radical rethink of procurement to unlock social value

1495779884_giant-telehandlerWhilst responding to the Government’s Green Paper “Building Our Industrial Strategy”, Scape, the public sector owned built environment specialist, called for a radical rethink of procurement to unlock social value.

The Green Paper consultation, which ran from January to April 2017, sought responses from a wide variety of industry and business sectors to help the Government develop a long term industrial strategy to improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving innovation.

Scape, whose framework partners include Balfour Beatty, Kier, Willmott Dixon and Carillion, are committed to promoting social, economic and environmental sustainability best practice. Mark Robinson, Scape group chief executive, is calling for a radical rethink and clearer definition of social value, arguing that public sector projects worth over £10 million should be targeted to deliver at least 20% social value. If this were to be implemented, for example, on the major capital infrastructure project HS2, local supply chains and economies could benefit by up to £11.2 billion.

In addition, Robinson is calling for a “By Appointment to HM Government” badge as a mark of quality for contractors to encourage more SMEs to bid for projects. Further, he wants to raise national standards across public sector organisations and frameworks through a national strategy on procurement best practise. He argues that the government has major influence on procurement and so could use it to rebalance the economy and encourage SMEs. With the imminent departure of the UK from the European Union, he states that the time is ideal to review procurement legislation and create a new procurement framework to deliver maximum value for the UK economy and local communities.

Scape uses its own standards as a guide – for example they expect their own prospective partners to submit the most socially responsible and economically advantageous submissions to work with them. Scape’s own frameworks achieve a 50% local spend within 20 miles of 2,400 construction projects, which equates to £1.6 billion for local suppliers. Thus, they argue, the government has an important opportunity with the new Industrial Strategy to create a successful model for public sector procurement which is simple and straightforward, thereby encouraging SMEs to embrace public contracts and drive economic growth.

The Ethical Trading Initiative releases two guides to help businesses tackle child labour and modern slavery

imgworld-day-against-child-labour-2016The free guides aim to advise businesses on the key concepts of modern slavery and their legal obligations regarding the issue.

The first guide focuses on child labour issues. With the International Labour Organisation estimating that 211 million children under 15 are child labourers, with 73 million of them being aged 10 or under and a further 8.4 million trapped in slavery, trafficking or debt bondage; the issue is critical both ethically and legally. Many child labourers work in export-orientated industries such as manufacturing, quarries or gemstone extraction, often in unsafe conditions with minimal respects for the rights of the child. Businesses are guided through forming assessments of the actual and potential risks of child labour within their companies, how to identify their corporate responsibility, how to take action if violations are discovered and how to apply monitor these policies to ensure that the rights of the child and child protection are at the forefront of any action taken.

The second guide focuses on advising companies and organisations regarding modern slavery in supply chains. Estimates vary, but it is believed at least 21 million people, including 5.5 million children, live in slavery according to the International Labour Organisation; whilst other organisations estimate the number to be nearer 46 million (Global Slavery Index). Slavery may take many forms, such as forced labour or debt bondage, descent-based slavery or child slavery. The guide offers warning signs for businesses to look out for among suppliers, and warns that any one of the factors, such as withholding wages or retention of identity papers, does not necessarily indicate slavery is taking place, however a combination of several factors probably does. The ETI states that over three quarters of companies believe there is a likelihood of modern slavery occurring in their supply chains. It suggests ways to embed modern slavery awareness and due diligence within business practice and how to engage stakeholders in the issue. Further, it advises companies to set clear red lines consistent with the highest international standards whilst negotiating with potential suppliers, and provides tips on what to do if slavery is found in supply chains.

The free guides are available from the Ethical Trading Initiative website, in pdf format for companies and organisations to download.