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Midas wins new £23m warehouse for power tool giant STIHL

Midas Construction has been appointed main contractor for a new warehouse and headquarters for power tools company STIHL.

Work will see the creation of a new 11,285m2 purpose-designed facility off the A331 in Camberley, Surrey.

Construction information specialist Barbour ABI has the project valued at £23m.

The deal will allow STIHL and its local workforce of 95 employees to move from their existing premises nearby in the Yorktown area of Camberley which the company has now outgrown.

The Southampton-based Southern Division of Midas Construction is expected to begin preparatory work on site this month.

The project will deliver an automated industrial warehouse for storage of machines and spares with ancillary office and workshop space, as well as a retail display area and staff facilities such as canteen.

New road access will be constructed from the A331 into the site, together with associated parking, earthworks and landscaping.

Steve Lee, Director of Midas Construction’s Southern Division said: “We are delighted to be working with STIHL GB and to have been entrusted to deliver this important project for the company.

“As well as being a high-profile international brand, STIHL has been an important local employer in Surrey for the last four decades and we are pleased to be playing a role in this major investment by STIHL which secures its future in the area and will allow the business to continue to thrive and grow.”

Kay Green, Managing Director of STIHL GB, added: “Our new purpose-built headquarters represents a significant capital investment and is a commitment to the future for our local workforce.

“This cutting edge facility will allow us to plan for many years of future growth which will continue to benefit the local economy. We are looking forward to working with Midas Construction on this vital project.”

The new building has been designed by architects Hale to combine contemporary materials with modern and simple detailing, creating a high-quality appearance. Extensive landscaping will include habitat creation and significant tree, native shrub and wildflower planting.

The first stage of works will see Midas Construction carry out site clearance and levelling of the former Thames Water Utilities site, in readiness for a start on the main build project in February 2022.

The project is scheduled to be completed in December 2022.

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Ibstock fined £530,000 after worker loses hand

Ibstock Brick Ltd has been fined £530,000 for safety breaches after a worker lost his hand.

North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard how, on 28 February 2020, a maintenance engineer was in the process of polishing a metal shaft as it rotated in a manual lathe, using an emery cloth directly by hand while wearing gloves.

The cloth became entangled around the rotating shaft and dragged the engineer into the lathe resulting in his hand being severed in the machine. The engineer subsequently underwent surgical amputation below the elbow.

An HSE investigation found that there were failures in the arrangements and controls for the task performed. The risk assessment in place was not suitable and sufficient in that it did not properly assess or address entanglement risk associated with the direct manual application of emery cloth to the workpiece or the use of gloves.

There was inadequate training, instructions and supervision to ensure that the risks from entanglement with gloves or the emery cloth were prevented.

Ibstock Brick Ltd of Newcastle under Lyme pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £530,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,548.20

After the hearing, HSE inspector Marie-Louise Riley-Roberts said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to assess risk and devise safe methods of working in which their employees should then be instructed and trained.

“If Ibstock Brick Ltd had, had effective managerial arrangements in place for the task undertaken and ensured their employees were following a safe system of work, based upon risk assessment, safe systems of work, supervision, information, instruction and training, then the life changing injuries sustained by this worker could have been prevented.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards”.

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BAM to start £300m Gateshead arena

Developer Ask:PATRIZIA has instructed BAM Construction to work on the initial preparation works for the Gateshead arena project.

The site between the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, the Sage Gateshead and Gateshead College is being developed on behalf of Gateshead Council and involves some £300m of regeneration investment.

The enabling works package is a significant step forward for developing the arena and conference centre scheme which is expected to create some 2,000 jobs during construction.

Full construction work will begin next Spring.

NewcastleGateshead Quays will feature a world class arena, purpose-built conference and exhibition centre, restaurants, a dual-branded hotel and large areas of outdoor realm and performance space.

It is anticipated the site will attract over 330,000 additional visitors each year and it is due to complete in 2024.

 

Labour shortages blamed for 1.8% construction output drop

Construction output fell 1.8% in October representing the largest monthly decline since the pandemic sent construction off a cliff edge in April 2020.

New work fell 2.8% from September to October while repair and maintenance remained unchanged.

At the sector level, the main contributors to the decline in monthly output were infrastructure and private new housing, which decreased 7.1% and 4.4% respectively.

These falls  were partially offset by increases in private industrial and public other new work of 9% and 7% respectively.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that product shortages caused by supply chain issues leading to subsequent price rises in raw materials such as steel, concrete, timber and glass, were an important reason for the decline.

The latest fall meant the level of construction output in October remained 2.8% below the February 2020, pre-coronavirus level.

 

Mark Robinson, group chief executive at procurement body SCAPE said:“October witnessed the peak of the fuel crisis, port delays and a shortage of HGV drivers.

“The impact these have had on existing supply challenges, combined with ongoing labour shortages, mean that it’s no surprise that output has taken a knock.

“A potential new wave of Omicron cases and the introduction of restrictions to curb it – on top of ongoing concerns around inflation – mean that 2022 is also likely to be characterised by challenges.

“Allowed to go unchecked, these developments will only exacerbate existing labour and supply shortages, which will significantly dampen the sector’s ability to pursue further growth and continue supporting the UK’s economic recovery.”

 

Big five modular builders form trade body

The UK’s big five MMC builders have teamed up to form a new trade body to accelerate the growth of the modular sector.

Trade body Make Modular brings together leading modular housing manufacturers: TopHat, Urban Splash, Ilke Homes, Laing O’Rourke, Legal and General Modular.

It is being supported by the wider manufacturers body Make UK.

Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, said:“Modular housing could certainly play a significant part in helping local authorities deliver the challenging home building targets set for them by Government.

“But to make real significant progress, modular housing needs to have equal access to land for construction with many sites still favouring traditional modes of construction.

“Modular also needs to have the weight of Government procurement behind it using a joined-up approach including education, defence and housing to build much-needed scale the UK’s modular industry.”

Together the member firms claim to have created more than 2,000 new jobs during the last three years.

They aim by moving people off-site and into clean, safe, modern working conditions volumetric to rebuild the construction workforce bringing up to 50,000 new younger people into the industry.

Make Modular members are planning to help solve the country’s housing crisis by delivering 75,000 affordable homes before the end of the decade, with a combined capacity to produce a new home every two hours from their factories.

Modular housing manufacturers are also keen to accelerate the development of building regulations to match a new, more ambitious new normal when it comes to quality and energy across construction as a whole, driving forward the world’s biggest challenge of climate change.

Dave Sheridan, Chair of Make UK Modular said: “Modular housing has grown rapidly in the last few years. The establishment of our own trade body is the crucial next step in this process.

“As a natural partner to Government to solve the housing crisis, deliver the levelling up agenda, and combat climate change Make Modular will accelerate and advance the MMC agenda through one strong voice rather than a series of disparate ones.”

 

 

Taylor Wimpey CEO Pete Redfern to step down

Taylor Wimpey CEO Pete Redfern is stepping down after more than 14 years at the helm of the house builder.

Redfern will leave the business once a suitable replacement has been found.

Taylor Wimpey said is has a “robust succession plan in place” and the recruitment process is advanced with a selection process considering both internal and external candidates.


Chairman Irene Dorner said:  “Pete has made an invaluable contribution to the business during his almost 15 years as CEO, including having successfully led the company through a global financial crisis and the recent pandemic.

“Pete has led a management team which has overseen the transformation of Taylor Wimpey into one of the largest housebuilders in the UK, with an industry leading landbank, a strong financial position and a clear and deliverable strategy for profitable growth. In addition, Pete will leave the business with a strong and differentiated culture he can be proud of creating.”

Redfern added: “It has been a privilege to work at Taylor Wimpey for the last two decades and to lead a business of which I am so proud, working with so many exceptional people both within the business and through our partnerships.


“The business is in excellent health and is well positioned for strong future growth. Accordingly, I am confident that now is the right time for fresh leadership as Taylor Wimpey starts the next chapter.

“Last year, having significantly increased our land buying to take advantage of land market opportunities, we have grown our landbank and set a clear path to deliver strong growth and returns over the coming years.

“I am extremely proud that Taylor Wimpey is a five-star home builder for customer service, with the highest construction quality scores in the volume house building industry and outstanding employee engagement.

“I would like to thank everyone at Taylor Wimpey for their past, current and future support.”

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Builder jailed after demolishing wall on colleague

A builder has been jailed for three years and three months following an investigation into the death of a labourer on a site in Hampshire in 2019.

Paramjit Singh, 48, of Southampton, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter following a two-week trial at Winchester Crown Court.

On Friday he was sentenced to three years and three months for the gross negligence manslaughter charge.

Singh was also sentenced to 20 months for safety breaches which he had admitted previously. Both sentences will run concurrently.

He was charged following a joint investigation with the Health and Safety Executive into the death of 64-year-old Kulwant Singh Athwal from Southampton.

The court heard how officers were called to the site on 16 July, 2019, following the discovery of the body of a man in his 60s.

Kulwant Singh Athwal had been working for Singh, who was previously the owner and manager of SAB Builders, as an ‘odd job man’ on the demolition of a house in Chilworth. They had been hired by the owners to clear the garden and garage to make way for an extension.

The day before the incident Singh had demolished all but one side of the garage on the grounds. On leaving at the end of the day, no signs or boarding had been put up around the site to indicate it was unsafe.

On 16 July, 2019, Singh returned to the site just before 9am to demolish the final wall of the garage. No exclusion zones were identified around the wall, and Singh was not aware of where the members of his team were when he started up the digger and moved toward the wall.

Kulwant Singh Athwal was on the other side of the wall when it collapsed onto him.

Post mortem examinations were conducted by Home Office Pathologist Dr Basil Purdue, and concluded that Athwal died as a result from his injuries, which were consistent with being crushed by a heavy object.

The court also heard how Singh’s public liability and skills card were expired after SAB Builders went bankrupt in 2015 and the company ceased trading.

Hampshire Constabulary’s investigation was led by Detective Chief Inspector Kate Gunson.

Speaking after today’s verdict, she said: “This was an extremely tragic case resulting in the completely avoidable death of Kulwant Singh Athwal.

“It is a tragedy for all involved. We hope that lessons will be learned that prevent this from ever happening again.”

HSE inspector James Lucas said: “All demolition work, however large or small, has the potential of serious risk if it is not properly planned and controlled.

“Paramjit Singh failed to prepare a written plan for the demolition of the building or any site-specific risk assessments. In this case, simple control measures and safe working practices, such as excluding people on site from danger zones with physical barriers, could have saved a life.

“There are no winners here. The victim, Kulwant Singh Atwal, so sadly lost his life because of the absence of basic safety measures. The perpetrator, Paramjit Singh, will spend time in prison and will always carry the heavy burden of having caused another person’s death.

“HSE would like to encourage all small builders to ensure they know how to properly plan, manage and monitor all construction work they undertake. The HSE website provides a wealth of information, some of it translated into other languages.

“In addition, HSE wants to stress to all workers from minority communities or anyone from any background who may feel vulnerable, that health and safety law is there for their protection, just as much as any other workers. HSE always focuses on making workplaces safer and healthier, whoever is at risk.”

Willmott Dixon to build £21m net zero Preston school

Willmott Dixon has added to its growing portfolio of net zero carbon in operation school projects with a £21m job to build an academy for 750 pupils in Preston.

The new Tarleton Academy will be built on land adjacent to the existing school, which will remain in use until the new building is open in September 2023.

Its facilities will include 36 classrooms as well as a range of sports facilities including a 20m swimming pool, new fitness suite and multi-use games area.


The academy will be net-zero carbon in operation and this will be achieved using an enhanced building envelope to maximise air tightness, alongside triple glazed windows.

It will also benefit from renewable energy generation comprising both ground source and air source heat pumps.  The roof will also be fitted with 1,500 sq m photovoltaic solar panels, offsetting all energy used on site.

Anthony Dillon, managing director for Willmott Dixon in the North, said the Tarleton Academy would further benefit from Willmott Dixon’s EnergySynergyTM process.

This will see a team of zero carbon specialists compare actual energy performance for a period of 2-3 years after handover with energy performance targeted at the design stage, ensuring there is no difference in operational use against that predicted when designed.


The delivery of Tarleton Academy is the latest ultra-sustainable education project by Willmott Dixon.

It follows the award winning £38m Harris Academy Sutton, the UK’s largest Passivhaus accredited secondary school. The company has also delivered Hackbridge Primary School, the UK’s first Passivhaus ‘Plus’ education facility, which consumes only 75% of the 100% renewable energy it generates, selling the remainder back to the grid.

Last month, the company was also appointed for a £29m net-zero carbon school build at Silverwood School’s Rowde campus in North Wiltshire, extending the existing campus to provide a high-quality environment for 350 SEND pupils by September 2023.

 

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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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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.”