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New skills centre in Birmingham to train workforce of the future

University College Birmingham has unveiled plans for a new  sustainable construction skills centre as part of the regeneration of the iconic James Cond print works in the city’s Jewellery Quarter.

The new Engineering and Sustainable Construction Centre will offer state-of-the-art courses and facilities specifically designed to train the workforce of the future. Tilbury Douglas is working on the scheme with the university.

The new centre will specialise in courses including sustainable construction methods, manufacturing technologies, renewable energy, robotics and cyber and digital skills.

Michael Harkin, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at University College Birmingham, said: “The recent COP26 climate change conference included high emphasis on low carbon sustainable buildings with highly ecological specifications, and there is great need of new talent in this field, with hundreds of thousands of new workers expected to be required in the next few years.

“Our exciting new courses are centred around sustainable construction and design, plus developing advanced skills in engineering and construction, and are very different to those offered by other local providers.

“It is an offering that we will continue to develop from Level 2 and T-levels through to degree courses and apprenticeships, working closely with local employers to fill skills gaps and offer training in priority areas for the West Midlands.

“First and foremost, it is firmly about supporting young people and the long-term unemployed to gain industry-relevant skills and support them into work, further study and to gain critical skills to access high value jobs that meet local and regional needs.”

Colin Hamilton, Strategic Account Director at Tilbury Douglas Construction, said: “Tilbury Douglas is delighted to be working in partnership with University College Birmingham on the development of the new sustainable construction courses.

“As an employer, it is vital that our employees can access robust, fit-for-purpose qualifications that will address the skills shortage and provide our future and existing workforce with the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to demonstrate competency in their roles.

“We are passionate about recruiting and developing our own talent for the future, while ensuring we remain committed to sustainably delivering vital infrastructure to communities across the UK. This collaboration will help us to achieve this.”

Did you miss our previous article…

Wates confirmed winner of £450m car battery gigafactory

Wates and Turner & Townsend have been appointed by client Envision AESC to lead the design and project manage construction of its £450m car battery gigafactory in Sunderland.

The factory will be built at the 50-acre International Advanced Manufacturing Park and will form part of a £1bn partnership with Nissan UK and Sunderland City Council to create an electric vehicle (EV) hub to deliver the next generation of electric vehicle production.

Wates will develop an adaptable design that provides the infrastructure to support battery production by 2024. The contractor will work alongside Turner & Townsend who will act as the project manager and cost manager.

Planning permission was granted in October for the gigafactory, which represents an initial 9GWh plant with potential future-phase investment by Envision AESC of £1.8bn.

This will generate up to 25GWh and create 4,500 new high-value green jobs in the region by 2030, with potential on site for up to 35GWh. This commitment will power Nissan’s new vehicles in the first phase and support the continued localisation of vehicle parts and components with advanced technology.

As part of the design process, Wates is already engaging with local supply chain partners, seeking their input on areas ranging from clean utilities to fire protection services.

Chris Caygill, Managing Director of the Envision AESC battery plant, said: “Envision AESC is pleased to be working with both Wates Group and Turner & Townsend as key partners in this next stage of our UK gigafactory development.

“Each brings unique strengths to the project that will help deliver a world-class battery manufacturing facility essential to helping the UK automotive industry transition to a fully electrified future.

“We pride ourselves particularly on the safety record of our batteries, which continually achieve zero critical incidents in new product and process designs. Together with smart, digitally integrated clean energy generation, storage and use in our battery plants, we are supporting the global transition towards net zero carbon energy targets.”

Paul Chandler, Executive Managing Director of Wates Construction Group, said: “At Wates, we are constantly looking for a better way, using innovation, adaptability, and collaboration to help us take on the challenge of making our sector more sustainable.

“This project, to design the Envision battery gigafactory, will be a vanguard for that, representing a huge opportunity to accelerate Envision and the UK Government’s net zero ambitions.

“Not only that, but the project is also an essential piece of the puzzle in the Government’s levelling up agenda, and we’re incredibly proud to be laying the foundations for sustainable growth in the region.

“There is enormous potential to bring about real change, creating a legacy for Sunderland and the Northeast, through the creation of new green jobs and inward investment.”

Greystar JV targets London for £1.8bn build to rent homes push

Property investor Greystar Real Estate has teamed up with a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority to develop build to rent housing in London and its commuter towns.

The JV plans to spend £1.8bn on a pipeline of new-build projects, starting with a project in London’s Battersea district where it hopes to build 14,000 sq m of residential and commercial space at Lombard Street.

Both investors are targeting London, following a similar deal in 2015 in the Netherlands, which created a portfolio of more than 6,000 homes for students and young professionals.

To springboard into the London market, the JV has also confirmed it will buy private rental business Fizzy Living from Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing.

This will see its take over management of nearly 1,000 occupied homes and take on 30 Fizzy Living staff, at a portfolio valuation of £400m.

The Fizzy Living assets are well-located and close to public transport in Canning Town, Lewisham, Epsom, Stepney Green, Poplar, Walthamstow, Hayes and Silvertown. Greystar will start capital improvements and other operational enhancements.

Mark Allnutt, senior managing director – Europe, Greystar, said:“Demographic trends and a severe structural undersupply of housing is driving demand for high quality rental homes in the UK, so this remains a high conviction investment strategy for Greystar.

“We have a highly successful relationship with ADIA in the Netherlands and now have a unique opportunity to create a rental housing portfolio of substantial scale in London and its surrounding commuter towns.

“The Fizzy transaction provides us with day one access to eight operational assets and a host of new team members that we are pleased to welcome to Greystar.

“In addition, we will grow the portfolio through our newly formed partnership with ADIA from the ground up.”


Did you miss our previous article…

Renaker submits plan for Manchester tower quartet

Manchester developer and builder Renaker has submitted plans for its next major high-rise scheme in the city estimated to have a £750m development value.

The Trinity Islands scheme consists of four towers from 39 to 60 storeys, as well as bringing significant public realm improvements.

The Deansgate scheme designed by SimpsonHaugh would create nearly 2,000 flats, varying from one, two and three bedrooms, and underlines growing confidence in the Manchester high-rise flats market.

Consultant WSP is supporting both the M&E and structural design of Trin ity Islands.

Renaker bought the site from rival developer Allied London back in 2018, which then had planning for five high-rise buildings, including one at 67 stories that was due to be Manchester’s tallest block of flats.

The site, which consists of two parcels of land. It is bounded by the River Irwell to the north and west, Liverpool Road to the east and Water Street and Regent Street to the south.

The new Trinity Islands scheme will consist of two pairs of towers, with designs that seek to give each pair their own visual identity.

On site C, the buildings are conceived as diamond forms with a crystalline facade, while site D will emphasise the taller height of the buildings with curved facades.

Towers planned for site D

Towers planned at site C of Trinity Islands