UK construction blog


Archive for January, 2010

Approval for Huddersfield scheme too late for firm

January 31st, 2010 Comments off

jcaPractice that designed £100m regeneration plan closed last year

Winning planning permission for a £100 million regeneration project would be cause for celebration at most practices.

But for the architects who designed HD One — a mixed-use scheme in Huddersfield that features an artificial ski slope, a casino, a hotel, housing, offices and shops — the granting of permission last week was bittersweet.

It has emerged that the firm responsible for the plans, London-based John Clark Associates, closed last year, a victim of the recession.

Richard Walters, a former director of JCA, said a decision was made to wind up the firm after it lost three of its biggest clients in the credit crunch. Walters and three other JCA directors have now set up a new firm, WCB Design, and hope to continue to work on the Huddersfield scheme.

JCA was founded in 1981. Its main areas were retail, commercial, residential and leisure and it had offices on Charing Cross Road and a client roster that included British Rail, HBOS, the Hammerson Group, Land Securities and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“It became obvious that it wasn’t working, and all the directors wanted to go off in different directions so we decided to cease trading,” said Walters.

He also dismissed this week’s news that the recession is now officially over. “It is still extremely tough out there,” he added.

Ralph Rimmer, managing director of KSDL, the developer behind the HD One project, said he intended to lodge a full planning application for the site by the end of this year, and to begin the 40-month construction project within 12 to 18 months of that.

“HD One will have the wow factor,” he said. “It’s a statement of intent, a chance to take the town’s destiny in our own hands.”

Following last week’s approval by Kirklees Council, the development will be built on a 21ha site close to the city’s Galpharm Stadium, home to Huddersfield Town football club and Huddersfield Giants rugby league club.

Despite the size of the proposal, a spokeswoman for Cabe confirmed that the design watchdog had never reviewed HD One.


Pop-Up Low Level Access Platforms for Hire

January 29th, 2010 Comments off

The award winning range of high quality access products, including Pop-Up, the world’s smallest scissor lift are now available from nationwide from National Tool Hire Shops. We are also

proud to introduce the newest member of the Pop-Up family, the Pop-Up+, with an extra 1 metre working height.

POP-UP – the original  low level access platform
The Pop-Up has been designed to meet the work at height regulations by providing a safe low level access platform for indoor use and replacing the need for ladders and steps. Its detailed design offers a multitude of special features whilst offering the user varying platform heights. read more

POP-UP+ – for when you need that extra reach
The Pop-Up+ encompasses all the same features and benefits of its sister product Pop-Up. The new model has been developed exclusively for indoor, low-level access but has the PLUS factor in allowing reach to a wider range of applications. read more


SAVE £300 with Sitemaster Building LT – last few days

January 26th, 2010 Comments off

Sitemaster Building LT

Sitemaster Building LT

Last chance to take advantage of this fantastic offer!

REDUCED from £550.00 to
ONLY £250.00

Take advantage now of this limited time offer,

SiteMaster Building LT (now REDUCED by £300) is an ideal starter programme for someone who is about to invest £600 or equivalent $/€ rate on the Leica Disto D8 laser distance meter and wants to interface with an intelligent mobile drawing package which supports .dwg format CAD package; SiteMaster Building LT will give you the flexibility you need as an ideal starter package with an easy upgrade through to the full version should you so wish. Offer finishes 31st January 2010

For occasional building surveys

BuildingLT gives you many handy ways to create walls (even double line walls), windows, doors, openings and symbols. You can measure and draw rectangular and circular columns, recesses, chimneys and niches/ductes. You can use the EnterPoint dialog for precise entry of coordinates and angle/distance values.

Sitemaster Building LT Screenshot

The extensive features are especially interesting for users that need to create and deliver professional digital floor plans.

The layer management supports the combination of several floor plans in one single file. Heights of rooms, openings and symbols can be recorded and exported. Lasered distances are recorded in the background and saved on an extra layer for proofing purposes.

The Camera function allows you to insert icon-referenced inspection photos and images. SiteMaster Building contains an Image function for direct insertion and scaling of photos and image underlays with support for file formats as BMP, JPG, PNG, TIFF and RLC digital photos and images.

VoiceNotes that can easily been inserted eliminate time consuming text markup by providing record and playback of high-compressed audio notes and instructions directly inside your drawings.

AutoCAD-compatible drawing symbols / blocks can be used. The Visual Symbol Manager lets you insert symbols ? as-measured, referenced or free in the drawing. You can export Excel-compatible .csv files with room/area lists and room schedule reports/symbol lists. The Check Distance function lets you compare »as-built« distances to plan distances and record this comparison.

Experienced power users can use the visual Desktop, Menu and Toolbar Editor (DME2) and Lisp and/or C++ programming APIs to customize and extend the program furthermore.

Commercial property values rise in 2009

January 26th, 2010 Comments off

commercial-largeProperty consultant CB Richard Ellis said yields for commercial property declined 60 basis points in the last quarter, despite rents growing by 0.1%, meaning the value of commercial property was increasing.

The fall in yields occurred across all property sectors, but was most marked in retail warehousing, with yields falling 90 basis points.

The rise in rents was the first after five consecutive quarters of decline, which means overall rents have fallen 13% from their peak.

Rises were lead by central London retail and offices, with rents growing by 4.9% for shops and 1.4% for offices. Outside the capital growth was largely tentative or negative.

Nick Parker, analyst for UK research at CB Richard Ellis, said: “The recovery in the investment market, has seen around £10bn of property bought in the final quarter of 2009, a volume last seen in the boom years.

“Despite prime rental growth turning positive, this is as yet skewed towards central London, with most occupier markets remaining fragile going into 2010.

“A more broadly based turnaround will come from a revival of growth in the regions, once the economy has gained a firmer footing.”


The row over housing design

January 25th, 2010 Comments off

houseAn almighty row has erupted between housebuilders and the government’s design watchdog over the quality of housing design in this country

The government’s £1.1bn housebuilding rescue package has kickstarted more than just an ailing industry. Over the past couple of weeks, a row has been reignited over the design quality of the UK’s housing, with the spark provided by the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA’s) decision to fund poorly designed homes through the Kickstart programme.

Mostly, the furore has taken place on a very public level. Politicians on both sides of the House of Commons have branded the HCA’s decision to fund “grotty” private homes unacceptable and inexcusable, and the communities department’s cross-party select committee has already pledged to look into it.

Behind the public outrage, however, lies a longer stand-off between the nation’s housebuilders and Cabe, the government’s design watchdog. Cabe has consistently raised questions about the standard of housing design in the UK, its damning assessment of the Kickstart homes being just the latest in a series of stark verdicts. However, this in itself begs the question: why, 10 years after the Urban Task Force and the formation of Cabe, has the quality of housing design still not improved?

Although the HCA is still questioning the validity of that question by suggesting that Cabe’s Kickstart verdict was too harsh, it is clear that at least some the schemes were very badly designed indeed. The assessors have been asked not to speak publicly about the process, given the political sensitivity of the matter, but one says: “The schemes I saw were appalling – I gave one 1.5 [out of 20 on the government’s Building for Life criteria]. It seems absurd to commission research and then ignore it. It’s such a risk for those communities.”

Documents obtained by Building under the Freedom of Information Act show that the HCA felt Cabe’s “desktop review” of schemes had marked a number of them lower than they should have been, because Cabe simply gave a score of zero if information was not supplied. The HCA subsequently marked a number of them more highly.

Why were they so bad?

But this does not explain why some schemes scored as low as one or two on the criteria. The assessor says: “Whether there were any limitations to the Cabe assessment, a 1.5 scheme is never going to be any good.”

All of the schemes assessed under the first phase of Kickstart were standard housing schemes, albeit not originally intended for public funding, but all had received planning permission. Why were so many of them so bad? For architect Alex Ely, founder of Mae Architects and a former Cabe employee, design quality comes down to the desire of the client to see good design, a desire that is patchy at best. “Some of our clients have realised that design is a way for them to capture more market share in the recession, but even where there is this desire development directors at housebuilders have a lot of trouble with their cost evaluators.”

At a more essential level, Cabe sees a problem with the housebuilders’ business model in terms of design – they primarily compete on location and price with other builders, with big incentives to drive down costs, one of which is the design process. They also have no stake in the long-term success of a place, just the initial sale price. Ben Derbyshire, founder of architect HTA says: “They’re land traders, and this model doesn’t require product differentiation.”


Knuckleboom to lift UK construction

January 22nd, 2010 1 comment

acbAn ACB/BS 500-4 50tm knuckleboom crane is to help Bedford Plant Hire carry out a variety of tasks on construction jobsites in the UK.

Truck Specialists Ltd engineered the versatile DAF CF85-360 truck for Bedford Plant, which will use the vehicle and knuckleboom crane to transport and unload plant, building materials and cabins used on construction sites.

Plant will weigh up to 12t, with cabins measuring up to 32ft-long. The ACB/BS 500-4 crane can stack cabins two high, and has been modified to include a Scanreco remote control. Two pairs of stabilisers will be used during operation of the knuckleboom crane, and the crane sub-frame and bodywork is manufactured in high-strength Hardox steel to achieve the required capacities

The ACB/BS 500-4 can lift 3.5t at 12.2m. At 1.83m outreach, it can lift 25t, and 10t at 4.27m outreach. It has hydraulic extension up to 5.8m, and can rotate 365Ëš.

ACB Hydraulics is the European partner for Chinese truck-mounted crane manufacturer BS Machinery, and imports a range of BS knuckleboom cranes for sale in the UK. This includes the 5tm 50-1, 20tm 220-4, 30tm 300-4 and 68tm 680-6.



Mini Digger Replacement Tracks – 0800 142 2032

January 22nd, 2010 Comments off

If you’re looking to replace your mini digger tracks then UK Mini Digger Hire is a good place to start. Stocking all the major brands for all the popular models of mini digger replacement tracks including JCB, Kubota and Terex you can sure to get the correct replacement track for your make and model of mini digger. Other spare parts are available on request. UK Mini Digger Hire has a huge nationwide fleet of mini diggers and other light plant equipment for hire next day.


Liverpool Central Library Moves Step Closer

January 22nd, 2010 Comments off

central-library-entrance-forecourt-3Plans to restore and transform Liverpool Central Library have been given the green light by the City Council’s planning department.

Inspire Partnership, the design, construction and FM project team appointed to the £50m PFI scheme by Liverpool City Council, is now working towards financial close with the aim of starting on-site this summer.

The project will be one of the UK’s biggest library redevelopments. Work will involve restoring the Grade ll listed parts of the building which date back to 1850, including the Picton, Hornby and Oak Reading Rooms. The existing 1950’s and 1970’s facilities will also be replaced to deliver a library for the 21st century, including provision of the latest IT equipment for library users to enjoy.

A key part of the project will also be the provision of a state-of-the-art archive facility for storing some of Liverpool’s most historic treasures.

Inspire Partnership includes investors and asset management company Amber Infrastructure, contractor Shepherd Construction architect Austin-Smith Lord, facilities manager Cofely and building services engineer Buro Happold.

The new look Central Library, which is located on William Brown Street in Liverpool will also include:

•    New entrance to main library, including a ‘literary carpet’ and front and rear access
•     Five new floors with better access including escalators, lifts, toilets, meeting rooms and café
•    New repository with capacity for 20 years of new archive space
•    Conservation studio for repairs to the city’s literary heritage
•    New rooftop Atrium and terrace overlooking St. John’s Gardens
•    Re-opening of historic internal entrances to the Picton Reading Room
•    Re-opening of International Library, to the original design, as a new children’s zone
•    Dedicated room to John James Audubon’s celebrated book – Birds of America
•    Doubling the number of public computers
•    New light well’s at front and rear to allow library to be naturally lit
•    New 24 hour on-street, drop-off book service

Mike Leto from Amber Infrastructure commented: “Achieving this milestone is great news and we are working hard to achieve financial close as quickly as possible – the whole team is looking forward to starting construction later on this year and delivering such a landmark facility for the City of Liverpool to enjoy.”

Councillor Warren Bradley, Leader of Liverpool City Council, said: ‘’We have been developing this project for several years, and to get planning permission and listed building consent is a major milestone. This scheme will enable us to upgrade and restore the much loved historic parts of the building, creating a first-class 21st century facility the whole city can be proud of.’’

The scheme has been designed by architects Austin Smith Lord, which has a studio in the Port of Liverpool Building.

Ben Aston, associate at Austin Smith Lord, said: “It’s a testament to the drive and focus of all of the scheme’s partners that a project of this scale has moved along so quickly.

“Following a comprehensive consultation exercise, we’ve arrived at a design which strikes a fitting balance between celebrating the library’s original architecture and introducing new 21st century spaces. The end result will offer an improved visitor experience and another enhanced cultural and civic attraction for Liverpool to be proud of.”

Ordnance Survey (OS) Maps Online – 0800 404 9495

January 21st, 2010 Comments off

Homeowners requiring Ordnance Survey location plans for planning permission should find this website very. You can purchase maps for planning applications (conservatories / extensions / change of use / signage) in Local Authority approved PDF files. is an official Ordnance Survey Data & Mapping Centre meaning maps are approved for a variety of uses especially trade OS map users who may require Ordnance Survey Maps in a CAD friendly DXF format. The full Ordnance Survey mapping range is available to view online and there is a Product Guide to help you select the correct product for your needs. Call FREE on 0800 404 9495 today to discuss your mapping needs.



January 18th, 2010 2 comments

building1 (1) An underground garage was being dug on the south side, to a depth of 4.6 meters
(2) The excavated dirt was being piled up on the north side, to a height of 10 meters
(3) The building experienced uneven lateral pressure from south and north
(4) This resulted in a lateral pressure of 3,000 tonnes, which was greater than what the pilings could tolerate.

Thus the building toppled over in the southerly direction.

We have more pictures of this and a step by step of what went wrong, if you are interested in seeing more please email us.