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Monthly Archives: October 2021

£1.7bn Blue Eden project refloats Swansea tidal energy plan

A £1.7bn project placing Wales at the forefront of renewable energy innovation has been revealed by an international consortium.

The ambitious project proposed for Swansea’s waterfront refloats stalled tidal lagoon renewable energy plans, featuring underwater turbines generating 320 megawatts from a 9.5km structure.

Blue Eden will be sited along an extensive area of land and water, south of the Prince of Wales Dock

It will also feature 1,500 waterfront homes as well as 150 floating homes in the bay, a major floating solar array and major battery storage facility.

The revived lagoon plan is part of the larger proposed Blue Eden project that’s being led by Bridgend-based DST Innovations and a number of business partners, with support from Swansea Council and Associated British Ports.

Made possible by funding from the private sector, the innovative and economy-boosting Blue Eden will be delivered in three phases over 12 years.

Blue Eden project

A 60,000 sq m manufacturing plant to make high-tech batteries for renewable energy storageA battery facility to store the renewable energy produced at Blue Eden and power the site. If constructed now, it would be the world’s largest facility of its kindA 72,000 sq  m floating solar array anchored in the Queen’s dock areaA 94,000 sq m data centre storing, processing and providing network capabilities for the critical servicesAn oceanic and climate change research centreFloating dome structures that will become cultural and scientific centres to be enjoyed by allResidential waterfront homes for 5,000 peopleAround 150 floating, highly energy-efficient eco-homes anchored in the water

All the project’s buildings and facilities, including the eco-homes, will be situated alongside the lagoon.

Renewable energy produced on site will power the entire Blue Eden development, including businesses and homes.

Due to the innovation on-site, each home will have up to 20 years’ renewable energy and heat provision included with the sale of the properties.

Tony Miles, Co-founder and Chief Executive of DST Innovations, said: “Blue Eden is an opportunity to create a template for the world to follow – utilising renewable energy and maximising new technologies and thinking to develop not only a place to live and work, but also to thrive.”

The project has been developed following discussions based on a vision put forward by a regional task force led by Swansea Council.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: “Blue Eden will put Swansea and Wales at the cutting-edge of global renewable energy innovation, helping create thousands of well-paid jobs, significantly cut our carbon footprint and further raise Swansea’s profile across the world as a place to invest.

“I’m delighted that an international consortium led by a Welsh company has developed our Dragon Energy Island vision into a ground-breaking project that delivers so many benefits and builds on the council’s ambition to become a net zero city by 2050.

“This project truly is a game-changer for Swansea, its economy and renewable energy in the UK, and crucially it can be delivered without the need for government subsidies.”

Andrew Harston, Director of Wales and Short Sea Ports for ABP, said: “We are engaged in discussions around the Blue Eden project which could deliver renewable energy, new homes and skilled jobs. This innovative prototype has the potential to be a first for the UK and bring Britain closer to our net zero target.”

Subject to planning consent, Blue Eden work on site could start by early 2023.


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Chancellor to detail £7bn spending pledge for local transport

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is planning to detail plans in the Autumn spending review on Wednesday to pump £7bn in local transport improvements in Midlands and Northern cities.

The pledge will amount to around £1.5bn or 20% of actual extra new cash to supplement previous spending commitments on infrastructure in the regions over the next five years.

It will be directed at areas outside of London to level up transport with new train and station upgrades and the expansion of trams, with £1.2bn also allocated to improve bus services.

Its forms part of a £26bn raft of spending commitments trailed over the weekend ahead of the Autumn spending review.

Local transport infrastructure commitments will see West Yorkshire given £830m while South Yorkshire receives £570m.

Around £1.05bn will be freshly committed in the West Midlands, £710m for the Liverpool City Region, £310m in Tees Valley and £540m granted to the West of England.

Rishi Sunak confirmed previously the Government had announced £4.2bn for regional transport, adding the Government would now top that up with an extra £1.5bn while giving out the precise allocation for where the cash will go within the oveall local transport infrastructure cash envelope

“Greate cities need great transport and that is why we’re investing billions to improve connections in our city regions as we level up opportunities across the country.

“This transport revolution will help redress that imbalance as we modernise our local transport networks so they are fit for our great cities and those people who live and work in them,” he said in briefings over the weekend.




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Cladding panels “dislodged” from McAlpine hotel job

Roads around a Hilton hotel being built by Sir Robert McAlpine in Woking were closed last week when cladding panels became “dislodged”.

Following the incident at the £540m Victoria Square development Cllr Ayesha Azad, Leader of Woking Borough Council, said on Friday: “I can confirm that following Wednesday’s incident, which saw a small number of exterior panels dislodged from the hotel development, senior officers from Woking Borough Council met with representatives of Victoria Square Woking Ltd and its contractor, Sir Robert McAlpine (SRM).

“Yesterday, a detailed inspection of the area of concern was undertaken by SRM’s sub-contractor, with further checks carried out today. As with any incident of this nature, SRM has mobilised their incident investigation team which includes independent advisers to fully scrutinise how and why this incident happened. With these investigations ongoing, it is inappropriate to speculate on the reasons why and how the panels became displaced.

“On the grounds of public safety, Sir Robert McAlpine took the decision to close Victoria Way on Wednesday afternoon in agreement with Surrey Police. Victoria Way will remain closed to traffic between the junctions with Goldsworth Road and Lockfield Drive until SRM is fully satisfied that there is no further risk to the public and construction site.

“Safety is my utmost concern and I would like to reassure members of the public that all partners involved fully understand the seriousness of the situation and are working collaboratively and expediently to resolve the matter.”

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Weston Homes plans £100m London flats scheme

Volume house builder Weston Homes has bought part of a former textiles dyeing factory complex in south east London for a £100m multi-storey flats scheme.

The 4.6 acre Dylon factory site will be transformed with a 254 apartments scheme with, undercroft basement parking, and children’s play space  within landscaped gardens.

The site already benefits from full planning consent, granted last Spring, allowing construction to start in late 2022 with a 20 month build programme.

It forms the second phase of the redevelopment of the Dylon works following on from 223 built to Crest Nicholson undertaken in 2017.

The contemporary buildings are designed for first time buyers and will have full height windows, balconies and tiered roofscapes complete with feature London Yellow Stock brickwork, providing a connection to nearby residential buildings.

Bob Weston, Chairman and Manging Director at Weston Homes said: “This new outer London development is part of our ongoing major growth and expansion. The business has a highly diverse range of developments, including a series of major landmark schemes commencing and many others in the pipeline.”

Over the last five years, Weston Homes has purchased land sites for over £2 bn worth of residential and mixed use development across outer London and the South East.

This includes 20 current active sites and over 7,500 new homes in the pipeline including traditional housing and large scale urban regeneration projects.



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£35m Nottingham art school gets green light

Plans for a £35m university building in Nottingham city centre have been given the planning go-ahead

Work will start early next year on the nine-storey block, which will house Nottingham Trent University’s School of Art and Design.

Bowmer & Kirkland and GF Tomlinson are understood to be in the bidding for the project which has been designed by architect Hawkins Brown.

The planned building at 40–42 Shakespeare Street will provide a variety of workspaces for designing and making, collaboration areas, specialist studios and labs.

The building has been designed to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and DEC ‘A’ rating.

Design decisions, such as the use of post-tensioned concrete slabs and ceramic cladding, have helped to reduce their carbon impact using Hawkins\Brown’s self-developed, open-source H\B:ERT software.

Nottingham School of Art and Design project team

Architect: Hawkins Brown

Structural & Civil Engineer: Mott Macdonald

MEP engineer: Waterman

Carbon consultant: Hawkins Brown

Project Manager: Turner & Townsend

Cost consultant: Turner & Townsend

Fire Engineer: Arup

Liverpool student block developer goes under

Subcontractors and suppliers across the North West are braced to lose millions after the company behind the 16-storey Natex student accommodation scheme in Liverpool fell into administration.

Mount Group Student Natex was developing the £45m scheme which was due for completion in December.

The company is now in the hands of administrators Mazars but the wider Mount Group remains unaffected.

Mount Group Student Natex was incorporated in 2016 and work started on the 574-bed scheme in 2019 with Manchester based Barton PM as management contractor.

Mazars told the Liverpool Echo: “The administrators are presently assessing the financial position of the company with a view to determining the optimal strategy for the completion of the development.

“The company’s financial position has been adversely affected by delays and increased costs resulting from, among other factors, the Covid-19 pandemic and supply chain issues associated with the pandemic and Brexit.”

One local subcontractor told the Enquirer: “Payments have been delayed for ages on this job and suppliers are owed millions.”

HS2 downsizes Euston station to save costs

HS2 is sliming down the planned Euston station terminus in a bid to save cost and programme time.

The station will now move to a simpler 10 platform design from the originally planned 11 platforms.

This will allow the station main contractor joint venture Mace Dragados to build the £2.6bn project in a single stage, rather than two stages as originally envisaged.

The changes are far less dramatic than some in the industry feared after a 15-month review seeking cost-saving options and efficiency opportunities, depending in part on the scope of the northern route of HS2, particularly the future of the eastern leg.

HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson revealed the new plan in a six-month update to Parliament yesterday.

He said that the changes will ease the £400m budget pressure already identified on Euston station budget.

Stephenson said the exact savings would be identified as the updated design is developed over the coming months.

“In response to a recommendation from the Oakervee Review about looking into the efficiency of the Euston station, the move to a smaller, simpler 10-platform station design at Euston has now been confirmed,” he said in the report

“This will provide a more efficient design and delivery strategy and play a significant role in mitigating the affordability pressures recently identified.

“Moving to this revised HS2 Euston station design maintains the station infrastructure capacity to run 17 trains per hour, as set out in the Phase One full business case.”

Stephenson also highlighted potential minor delays in the southern section of the line leading into Old Oak Common from outer London.

He said contractors were now focused on identifying efficiencies and controlling risk in these key areas.

The added delivery risk stems from residual delays in completing enabling works and handover to main works in certain locations.

Slower than planned design progress and securing planning consents by the main works civils contractors had also limited productivity of the supply chain.

HS2 is currently reporting future potential cost pressures of around £1.3bn compared to £0.8 billion six months ago.

The overall budget for Phase One, including Euston, remains £44.6bn. This is composed of the target cost of £40.3bn and additional government-retained contingency of £4.3bn.

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Murphy trials AI warning cameras at site danger zones

Murphy & Sons is trialling the latest artificial intelligence site cameras to increase worker safety on its sites.

The camera warning system monitors key exclusion zones and restricted plant and people zones on sites sounding an alarm if workers intrude on the danger zone.

The technology also has the potential to be used to monitor for other potential health and safety issues such as incorrect PPE usage and trip hazards.

The sensors have analytical and machine learning capabilities that can send valuable metadata, which can be analysed alongside data from a range of sources, including traditional accident, incident and reporting tools, weather data and observations from trained health and safety professionals, to anticipate incidents and manage health and safety across multiple construction sites.

Matthew Barney, senior procurement Manager at Murphy said: “This technology has the potential to play a really critical role in helping us to reduce site safety incidents and protect our colleagues.

“The ability to identify risks on site and move quickly in real time to warn of the danger is vital to helping deliver a safe environment for all our employees.

“I hope that, by combining traditional health and safety methods and best practice with new technologies such as this, we will continue to deliver on our commitment to place health and safety and the very heart of our wider business.”

Known as the AiMac, the system has been developed by Murphy Technical Services and security and control systems specialist IMAC.



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Sheffield Hallam University’s £220m city campus gets nod

First phase plans to develop Sheffield Hallam University’s city campus with three new buildings have got the green light from planners.

Now BAM Construction will start construction work in early 2022 under its ground-breaking pain-gain sharing alliance model – the first genuine alliance to be used in the higher education building sector.

The Hallam Alliance is made up of the university, design-led consultancy BDP-Arup, contractor BAM and facilities manager CBRE and will use the new NEC4 alliance contract as a commercial template.

Over the next five years, the alliance aims to set a new benchmark for “best for project” delivery and building management.

The three new buildings in the £220m phase one will be four to seven storeys high. They will be erected around a new 400 sq m public area called University Green on Arundel Lane, on the recently demolished science park.

Designs include the latest technology and measures to make the new buildings zero carbon ready.

They include the use of sustainable energy solutions such as heat pumps, maximising the use of photo voltaic panels and provisions to support and promote sustainable travel.

BAM’s Paul Cleminson, Preconstruction Director in the North East, said: “The emphasis on sustainability and green spaces is very significant. By combining development, design, construction and long-term thinking about how the buildings are operated, we are all making a big difference to the future of how the buildings are used for generations to come.”


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End of timber shortages in sight

Near record-breaking softwood timber imports have replenished stocks to a level needed to meet the demand surge from construction.

This brings the prospect of an easing in supply bottlenecks once ongoing delivery issues from a shortage of HGV drivers are resolved.

According to the Timber Trades Federation more than 7 million m3 of timber and panel products were imported by the UK between January and July.

This is nearly 2 million m3 above the same period in 2020, and half a million m3 above 2019 levels – the UKs last ‘regular year’ before COVID-19 – which is about an 8% increase.

Nick Boulton, TTF head of technical and trade, said: “After a year of record production and nine months of near-record structural softwood imports it is highly likely the UK is at a point where there is sufficient volume of wood at UK ports and in the UK timber supply chain to satisfy construction demand.

“With Q3 now behind us, which we viewed as a real pressure point this year between supply and demand for timber products, we expect that over the coming months we will find there is greater stability within the UK market.”

But he warned: “We are not yet out the woods as any return to ‘regular’ patterns within the UK market will be difficult amid the ongoing shortage of HGV drivers, and in fuel and labour, which are likely to continue to impact the market in the coming months.

“These shortages are of high concern to the timber supply chain as while there may now be enough timber in the UK to meet demand it does little good to anyone when there are no means to transport stock from ports to warehouses or customers.”

Also there is still no sign of any easing of sky-high timber prices for structural softwood in particular.

Latest TTF statistics show the average price of sawn and planed softwood in May, June and July rose by 55%, 65% and 88% respectively over their corresponding months in 2020.