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Monthly Archives: November 2021

Countryside Properties sets aside £41m for recladding

Countryside Properties is setting aside £41m to cover post-Grenfell cladding and fire safety retrofits on its former building projects.

The firm revealed its commitment to retrofit 69 buildings, as it unveiled improved results showing a return to profit as it began a strategic switch to focus entirely on its partnerships business going forward.

John Martin, chairman, said: “We have examined all buildings developed by Countryside over the last 15 years and identified 69 buildings across 17 sites where remedial works are required to bring them in line with current building regulations.

“Throughout the year, we have engaged with building owners, carried out invasive surveys and priced building owners’ scope of works.

“This has enabled us to more accurately estimate the potential costs associated with these buildings. As a result, we have established a provision of £41m to cover the cost of remedial works and losses suffered by building owners where it is identified that the works are necessary because we fell short of our high standards at the time of construction.”

Over the year to September 2021, Countryside bounced back into the black with a £73m operating profit after plunging £5.5m into the red after Covid disruption last year.

Revenue jumped by half to £1.5bn.

Following a strategic business review earlier this year, Countryside said in July it would focus all its resources on lower risk Partnerships, withdrawing from its a two-division market sale structure.

This saw Countryside establish a new Partnerships division to serve the Home Counties using people and resources from the legacy house building operations.

Martin added: “Countryside has a clear path to becoming 100% focused on our differentiated and market-leading mixed tenure Partnerships business.

“Since we announced the strategy earlier this year, we have made excellent progress in establishing the new division in the Home Counties where we have a wealth of opportunities to bring our award-winning proposition to a new generation of home-owners and tenants in an area where it is sorely needed.”

Countryside forecast that group operation margins will reach 13% once its new regions are established.

Construction of its new modular panel factory in Bardon, Leicestershire has completed and will begin production by the end of 2021.


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Galliard forms new partnership to build 850 homes

London developer Galliard Homes has teamed up with regional landowner-developer Apsley House Capital and Midlands-based property developer Wavensmere Homes to deliver a brace of schemes worth £300m.

The two residential-led schemes, Belgrave Village in Birmingham and the regeneration of the HMS Ganges Naval facility in Shotley near Ipswich.

Belgrave Village will be built in Balsall Heath, between the city centre and Moseley, the 12-acre development fronts the A4540 Belgrave Middleway and the A435 Haden Way and is bounded by Sherbourne Road and Balsall Heath Road.

Designed by Chetwoods Architects, Belgrave Village will provide 438 homes

Subject to Section 106 Agreement finalisation, the three-year build programme will start in the first quarter of next year.

Barrelman’s Point will provide 400 homes at Shotley Peninsula near Ipswich at a 60-acre site of the former historic HMS Ganges Naval facility.

Barrelman’s Point will involve the transformation of the historic HMS Ganges training facility

Masterplanned by Clague Architects, the project will require the preservation and restoration of several Royal Navy heritage assets, including the Grade II listed ceremonial mast, Grade II listed entrance gates, a mid-19th Century Fort and two Martello Towers.

There will also be nearly 10,000 sq m of new and converted commercial and leisure premises in a new commercial centre which will include a grocer, retail space, a gymnasium and children’s play areas.

Construction of Barrelman’s Point is also expected to start in the first quarter of next year with an estimated 4-5 year phased build programme.

The partners are also looking at other development opportunities across the Midlands and South East.

The two new developments builds on the existing Galliard Apsley Partnership, which has already established a £400m plus pipeline developments in Birmingham, with projects including The Timber Yard, St Paul’s Quarter and Soho Wharf delivering some 1,400 homes.


Leeds £270m Lisbon Square towers approved

Plans for a £270m mixed-use scheme to transform the former International Swimming Pool site in Leeds have got the green light.

Development partners Marrico Asset Management and Helios Real Estate are behind the Lisbon Street scheme, which will consist of a cluster of four high-rise buildings.

The partners plan to start work work next spring on 600 build to rent flats in 33 and 22 storey towers.

A further 550 student beds will be delivered in a 24-storey student block, a 15-storey aparthotel there will also be 150,000 sq ft of office space, along with further retail and leisure.

More than half of the site will be given over to gardens and landscaping

Marrico’s Partner, Mark Barnes said: “The Lisbon Street development will remove an unsightly site and deliver high-quality architecture and public realm, while creating an attractive and distinctive urban development in its own right.

“The scheme will reinforce the confidence in the continuing regeneration of the area, acting as a catalyst for further on-going investment and regeneration.”

Professional team

Architecture: DLA Architecture

QS: Richard Boothroyd & Associates

Structural consultant: Curtins

M&E: Commercial Services Design

Energy & Sustainability: Hydrock

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Engineers battle to repair power network after Storm Arwen

Engineers are battling to restore power to customers after Storm Arwen wreaked the “worst damage in 20 years” to the network.

Teams at Northern Powergrid worked into the night across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire after 240,000 customers were hit by power cuts.

The scale of damage in some locations is so extensive that large sections of overhead lines will need to be rebuilt in order to restore supplies.

Rod Gardner, Northern Powergrid’s Major Incident Manager, said: “Intelligence from our helicopter inspections has illustrated the scale of impact on our network. The impact from Storm Arwen has been one of the worst we’ve experienced in the last 20 years.

“Despite this we have restored more than 200,000 customers supplies and our dedicated teams will not stop until all customers are restored, and our network is returned to full strength.

“We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from other UK network companies, who have provided resource as part of the industry’s mutual support arrangements, which exist for extreme events like this.

“Our frontline teams and contractors will work in partnership with engineers from other parts of the UK, we have also organised additional customer service support to bolster our contact centre to help us keep customers updated.

“We continue to work closely with the region’s gas, water and rail network companies to coordinate with their teams and prioritise our work to help minimise the broader impact on the region.”


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Green light for £65m canalside scheme in Wolverhamption

Full planning permission has been granted to build-to-rent developer Placefirst for 366 new homes and commercial space in the heart of Wolverhampton’s historic Canalside Quarter.

Site preparation work is now expected to start next summer on the £65m scheme.

The development will provide a mix of townhouses, new build apartments and commercial space across five acres of brownfield land.

Sensitive restoration of heritage canalside properties including several listed buildings, and major environmental improvements will be implemented in the scheme which is designed by architecture practice jmarchitects, with WSP as planning and heritage consultants.

Darran Lawless, development director for Placefirst said: “We are proud of all the hard work undertaken by the whole team and our partners, that will enable a brownfield site situated in such a historic location to reach its true potential, creating an exciting, sustainable new neighbourhood.

“The focus on placemaking and development of public realm at this ­waterside development, is another example of Placefirst’s commitment to delivering schemes that will rejuvenate communities, and adds to our track record of creating neighbourhoods with a real sense of place.”

Councillor Stephen Simkins, City of Wolverhampton Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “They will deliver a nationally significant development that not only brings back into use a large parcel of brownfield land but also enables the city to take advantage of our fantastic waterways, and the heritage that comes with it, to provide a sustainable community where people want to live and work, now and in the future.

“The Placefirst scheme will also generate around 150 jobs and boost our economic recovery from Covid-19.

“Urban living forms a critical part of how we are re-imagining our city centre and will help us meet the increasing demand for housing.”

Rocks smash site huts as quarry blast goes wrong

Breedon Trading Ltd has been fined £300,000 after blasting work at a Welsh quarry sent rocks flying into site buildings and beyond the danger zone.

Llandudno Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 15 January 2020, a blast at Cwt-y-Bugail Quarry in Llan Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, North Wales saw flyrock from the operation land 270m away, puncture the roof of an occupied work shed and put a hole in the outside pane of the occupied manager’s office skylight window.

An HSE investigation found that there were poor stemming practices, the written specification was prepared after the firing of the blast, and an inadequate danger zone was in place.

As a result there was a projection of flyrock outside of the danger zone that caused a quarry operative to run for cover and put other employees at risk when the roof of the shed they were working in was punctured.

Breedon Trading Ltd of Derby pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £2,534.80 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE’s Adrian Jurg, HM Specialist Inspector of Quarries, said: “Blasting operations at quarries are inherently high risk, and these risks must be rigorously controlled by good explosives engineering practice and in accordance with legal requirements.

“It is unacceptable that employees, and potentially members of the public, be put at serious risk of being hit by rocks that could easily lead to death or serious injury.”

Massive Stewart Milne development goes into administration

A subsidiary of Stewart Milne Group overseeing the planned construction of 3,100 homes near Aberdeen has gone into administration.

FRP Advisory is now running Countesswells Development Limited (CDL) which was overseeing work at the Countesswells new town.

Around 900 homes and several commercial properties and community facilities have been built or are under construction on the site.

A spokeswoman for CDL told the Press & Journal: “We are extremely disappointed that CDL, set up to deliver Countesswells, one of the most visionary and environmentally pioneering new communities in the UK, has been placed into administration.

“We firmly believe in the future of the project and will, of course, co-operate fully with the administrators to help ensure that the vision, which many people share for Countesswells, is realised.

“In the meantime, all existing construction work on the affordable homes at Countesswells will continue, and these homes will be completed and ready to move into as planned.”

Joint administrator Tom MacLennan said: “Our immediate priority will be to secure the site and finalise current construction, including completion of much-needed affordable housing projects.

“We will be reviewing the various land bank assets in line with the development plans and will work closely with the various stakeholders on the future development of the site.”

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HS2 pioneers first ‘box-slide’ bridge over motorway

HS2 joint venture contractor Balfour Beatty Vinci has started preparations for the first UK box slide for a rail bridge over a motorway.

The Midlands project was originally planned as a traditional structure, which would have meant significant traffic disruption for motorway users, with around two years of reduced lane widths, 50mph speed limits and weekend and night closures.

Now the team will build the whole structure on land next to the motorway in readiness to jack the 10,000t box into place in one movement.

The ‘Marston Box’ bridge slide near Junction 9 of the M42 in North Warwickshire will be achieved in only two one-week closures of the motorway over a 12-month construction period.

The M42 will be closed for one week for the first stage of preparation work between Christmas and New Year 2021, with plans to move the structure into place during a week’s closure in winter 2022.

This method also dramatically improves the health and safety of the workforce, who won’t need to work in close proximity to a live carriageway.

David Speight, HS2 Client Project Director, said:“At HS2 we’re always looking for innovative ways to reduce our impact on local communities, and this UK-first ‘box slide’ provides a quicker and safer solution.

“We’re working very closely with National Highways to ensure traffic management plans are in place, with a clearly signed diversion route to minimise any impacts during the motorway closure.”

Closure plan

During the one-week Christmas motorway closure this year, the team will remove the motorway surface, excavate 3m deep across the footprint of the structure, remove a redundant fuel pipeline and existing drainage system. Ground improvements will also be made in preparation for the box slide.

Two tower cranes will be erected on land next to the motorway to service the construction of the guide raft and box structure in early 2022.

The reinforced concrete raft will be constructed first and then the box constructed on top. It will be a reinforced concrete box structure with base, three walls and top slab, with part of the jacking mechanism cast carefully into the base of the box.

The box slide itself involves a jacking system designed by specialist civil and structural engineering company Freyssinet, which will push the box across on the guiding raft.

Once in motion, the box can reach speeds of over 2m per hour, so the whole operation of the box slide should only take 4 days, with a week closure required for the preparation, box slide and re-opening of the M42.

Robertson submits £150m Cardiff Arena plan

A Robertson Construction-led consortium has submitted a hybrid planning application for the regeneration of Atlantic Wharf in Cardiff.

A detailed application has gone in for phase one of the Butetown regeneration plan being promoted by the city council.  This sees the delivery of a new 17,000-capacity arena, hotel and associated parking.

The new arena has been designed to host the biggest names in the music industry, family shows, comedy, and sporting events.

It is anticipated, if planning is granted, that the construction of the new arena could commence in Autumn 2022.

Outline planning for the wider mixed-use masterplan would also see up to 1,150 new homes built, as well as office spaces, and leisure facilities built over seven years.

Nick Harris, group executive property director, Robertson, said: “Earlier this year we undertook public consultation events on the proposed plans and have been greatly encouraged by the positive feedback received from the local community. ”

tlantic Wharf plan

Phase 1: Construction starts on the arena and hotel in spring 2022, with completion in time for doors opening in 2025. This phase also includes building a multi-storey car park to replace the lost surface parking.

Phase 2: Businesses in the Red Dragon Centre will be relocated so works can start on a purpose-built facility to accommodate leisure, food and drink amenities. Plans include a new cultural centre incorporating the Wales Millennium Centre production space, potentially a National Art Gallery, and a ‘This is Wales’ fly-through visitor attraction.

Phase 3: A new 150,000 m2 office space delivered along with a 150-bed, four-star hotel.

Phase 4: A new neighbourhood delivering new homes and potential for retail and office space – this phase is dependent on relocation of the County Hall to a new, purpose-built building.


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Cut-price home builds quadruple maintenance cost

Housing associations could be paying over four times more in average annual housing maintenance after scrimping on building budgets.

That is the conclusion of an in-depth study by a leading cost consultant mapping average maintenance cost data supplied by 20 registered housing providers in London over an eight-year period.

Developer/ builder Mount Anvil commissioned Arcadis to attempt to quantify the true cost of lower quality new build against later operational costs.

Killian Hurley, founder and CEO of Mount Anvil, said: “Not considering what impacts Opex at the outset is like one part of the business taking out a payday loan and then asking another part of the business to pay it back, interest and all. Good idea at the time, terrible in the long run.”

He said: “Cost and time, the other two parts of the famous “triangle”, make themselves known early on in a project.

“Quality, however, is judged by resident happiness and long-run maintenance cost. That spend can end up 5 or 10x the upfront capital investment.

“But it’s only the latter that we scrutinise. So, we asked Arcadis to delve into this and quantify the true cost of poor quality — what does a pound or an hour misspent upfront cost RPs, the long-term holders of the homes we partner to deliver, in the future?”

Against a backdrop of scarce quantitive industry data, Arcadis focused on the leading housing association’s operational maintenance and repair costs.

Researchers uncovered wildly varying spends on maintenance, although original capex spend is not included in the published data.

From these results, it infers cutting corners on capex could be costing social landlords dearly in operational maintenance costs down the line.

Researchers found that average annual maintenance costs per unit differed significantly between housing associations within a single year, often by as much as 350%.

The range has been decreasing over time, but the costs at each end of the spread still differed by 250% in 2020.

Over the eight-year reference period, the average cost of a notional 1,000-home estate managed by registered providers associated with low maintenance cost was around £12m, whereas those with higher costs would typically pay £23m.

Another issue presenting challenges for housing associations is that maintenance cost inflation has outstripped rental income.

The gap between rental growth and the growth in maintenance costs was revealed to be between 2.0% and 3.1% per annum


Hurley said that the findings highlighted the benefits of thinking about operational issues early, minimising the future risk of excess maintenance costs through the design and construction of new homes.

He added that faced with multiple challenges regarding customer experience and decarbonisation, it was even more critical that the industry had a clear understanding of the interdependencies between Capex and Opex costs.

“With Capex investment likely to increase, it is essential to be able to evidence the advantage of investing in quality from day one.”

Other study conclusions

There is not a consistent methodology for recording cost-related assets performance

Industry silos between delivery, handover and operation still remain

Not all procurement routes are equal

Delivering quality is a team effort – collaboration between client, consultants and contractor is critical to success.

The future looks costly

RPs supplying data: A2Dominion, Catalyst Housing Group, The Hyde Group, L&Q Group, Metropolitan Thames Valley, Newlon Housing Trust, One Housing, Peabody.


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