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Archive for November, 2014

Green light for £250m Woking towers scheme

November 28th, 2014 Comments off

Woking Borough Council has nodded through plans to redevelop the town centre with a high-rise residential and retail scheme at Victoria Square.

The company behind the retail project is a joint venture between Peacocks shopping centre owner Moyallen, Surrey County Council and Woking Borough Council.

Their joint venture Bandstand Square Developments will build the mixed-use scheme on the site of Bandstand Square, Woking Fire Station and the former home of the town’s market.

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 07.58.54

The Victoria Square proposal will deliver 125,000 sq ft of new retail floorspace anchored by Marks & Spencer, a 190-bed four star hotel in a 21 storey tower, 392 residential apartments in two towers of 30 and 34 storeys.

woking-masterplan-image-1-390x526

The plans also include space for a medical centre, 380 additional car parking spaces and two new public plazas.

The new fire station is larger than the existing, with 20 residential units above, and will be delivered prior to the decommissioning of the existing facility.

David Ellis, director at Benoy, the architects that designed the scheme, said: “The Victoria Square development is an exciting project with a multitude of retail, entertainment and food and beverage options which we believe will entice residents and visitors to Woking and encourage them to shop, explore and enjoy the heart of the town.”

Work on the project is set to begin in 2016, once the new fire station is finished. Contractor McLaughlin & Harvey is understood to be in talks about building the £9m project.

 

 

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Subbie faces sell-off after Costain retentions row

November 26th, 2014 Comments off

A specialist contractor is looking to sell-off parts of its business after failing to resolve a £2.8m retentions row with Costain.

Preston waste engineering specialist TEG has been in talks for more than two years with Costain in a bid to release a retention held on its Greater Manchester waste contract.

TEG suspended trading in its shares on AIM last month.

Now it is looking to sell off parts of the business which is now starved of funds.

TEG said: “Given the ongoing costs associated with managing the conclusion of the contract and the associated remediation costs, in the absence of capital from the retentions the board believes that the provision of equity financing for the group is extremely unlikely.

“The board is exploring the sale of certain parts of the group, principally the disposal of its operating division as a going concern.

“The board continues to explore all financing and strategic options for the group but it does not believe that further funding will be secured to allow for the future working capital needs of the group.

“Regrettably, under the likely structures that can be achieved, the board believes that there may be little or no value remaining in the equity of the group.”

TEG won a £38m contract back in 2009 to provide four specialist composting facilities by 2011 as part of Europe’s largest waste PFI.

But alleged design faults have delayed completion of the facilities which are due to handle 175,000 tonnes per annum of green and food waste.

TEG has carried out remedial works for Costain in a programme of works to finish the contract.

In August, Costain revealed it had decided to exit the waste sector after it suffered losses from extra costs on the complex job.

Costain’s Natural Resources division suffered a £5m loss due to provisions to complete the legacy Greater Manchester Waste PFI contract awarded in 2007.

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Managing productivity in construction project management

November 24th, 2014 Comments off

When overseeing a property development or construction project, managing and maintaining productivity is of crucial importance. Most projects operate according to strict time schedules; delays cost money and negatively affect key players across the supply chain.

When a construction project loses momentum in one area it inevitably leads to delays in another; for example, if the bare shell of a building is not completed on time, plumbers, electricians, painters and decorators expecting to start work will have to be put off. As many construction workers are self-employed, they may have difficulty rearranging their schedules, so the knock-on effect can be devastating. Similarly, if a delivery of materials does not arrive on time crucial elements of the project may be delayed, resulting in a knock-on effect that can take weeks to overcome.

What causes productivity to lag in construction projects?

There are a number of key factors that can hinder productivity on a construction project; these include an unskilled or under motivated labour force; this covers not only various tradespeople, such as builders, plumbers and electricians, but also architects and project managers. Other common issues relate to the supply chain, building permits, lack of compliance with local regulations and cash flow.

The project manager’s areas of responsibility

Ensuring that all these elements work in unison is a complex job, which is why it is always recommended that a competent and experienced project manager should be employed to oversee all medium to large development and construction projects. A skilled project manager (PM) understands the way all these factors hang together and will ensure that all permit requests, for example, are submitted well in advance; that the correct quantity of materials have been ordered; that the goods delivered to site are correct and free of defects or omissions, and that the budget is realistic and being complied with.

Managing a diverse workforce

Any construction project will inevitably involve having a range of tradespeople and labourers on site simultaneously. Subcontractors will directly employ some while others may be self-employed; the salaries and wages paid will be equally wide ranging and terms of employment and pay structures will vary considerably. The project manager must manage this diverse collection of workers and is likely to be called upon to settle disagreements between them. The PM must ensure that all employees are on site when expected and that mandatory health and safety and working environment guidelines; from the wearing of hard hats in designated areas to not being allowed on site when in a state of intoxication, are strictly complied with.

The use of drugs and alcohol while working on a construction site not only affects productivity, it also endangers the life of the employee in question, and those around him or her. Being on site while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol is in direct contravention of UK Health and Safety regulations. Therefore, ensuring it does not happen should always be considered a priority. Fortunately, there are simple and non-invasive procedures available, such as oral fluid testing, which is a quick and efficient way of ascertaining if a particular individual has consumed alcohol or drugs.

Project managers have to be jacks of all trades; one day they may be called upon to attend a meeting with the site owner to discuss budget over runs and the next they may be up to their armpits in mud helping to free a broken down JCB. Whatever the challenge a good project manager will do everything in his or her power to ensure the construction project is completed on time and to budget.

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Tips for success in international property development and investment

November 24th, 2014 Comments off

Are you considering or have you already embarked on the property development path? Property development and investment can be a successful and lucrative enterprise, on both a domestic and international scale.

There are various forms of international property development and investment and each have their own pros and cons. The key question in the first instance is whether you are planning to buy to sell or to let.

The difference between buying to sell and buying to let

Are you looking for quick money and fast returns or planning on long-term development? If you choose correctly, investing in key improvements and selling at the right time, buying property with the intention to sell it on at a profit seems like the quickest and easiest solution. Buying to let offers the opportunity to receive a regular income from your investment, but does involve a long-term commitment to the property, which you can either run as landlord or hand over to a management agency.

Today, buy-to-let seems like a great option, with mortgage rates at record lows. However, there are pitfalls, the large fees currently charged by banks and building societies, which are often highest on the lowest mortgage rates, can significantly increase overall costs. You’ll also need to consider the rental market you are targeting; long-term or short-term lets; younger people or families? Each brings its own requirements in a property. In addition, you’ll need to consider the area – not only the country, but also the neighbourhood.

Choosing the right location

International property development is exciting because there are so many undeveloped areas around the world where property and land is still extremely cheap and offers great potential. You’ll really need to do your research, however. It is surprising how many would-be developers buy property or land overseas only to encounter problems because of local laws or regulations they were unaware of. It is therefore crucial to speak to a solicitor or similar expert in the laws of the country you propose to invest in before signing any agreements. You should also try to find out as much as possible about the current economic and political situation in the country; if it is unstable, the ‘bargain’ you were planning to invest in might not prove to be such a gold mine a few months down the line.

Taking advantage of tourist hotspots, as well as up-and-coming regions popular with tourists, but not saturated with holiday home and hotel developments can be extremely profitable. Land and property in parts of South East Asia, for example, are very cheap to invest in yet bursting with development potential. The same can be said for large parts of Eastern Europe and its coastline in particular.

Investing in a resort

The tourist development industry is vast, encompassing everything from a simple buy-to-let holiday flat anywhere from southern Spain to Miami, all the way up to large-scale, luxury all-inclusive tourist resorts such as the Six Senses project in the Seychelles; an award-winning hotel spa resort in an area of exceptional natural beauty. What makes this project special is its uniqueness; Six Senses is all about instilling its guests with a sense of wellbeing. For the writer of the blog MukeshValabhji.net, investing in this resort was a chance well worth taking.

What kind of investment you choose, as well as what and where your property development will be, means weighing up the risks you are willing to take. The higher the risk the bigger the potential profit, or loss. Are you looking for a safe investment or following a long-term dream of managing a business in the sun? Whatever you do, do your research thoroughly beforehand and never invest more than you can afford to lose.

 

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AFC Wimbledon lodge new £16m stadium plan

November 20th, 2014 Comments off

AFC Wimbledon have submitted plans to return to their traditional south west London home.

The Dons aim to build an 11,000-seat stadium, which could be expanded to 20,000 later, on the site of Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium.

Dons chief executive Erik Samuelson said: “This is the culmination of 18 months’ intensive work.

“It is an extremely comprehensive proposal covering every aspect of the development and associated issues.”

The club will also partner up with Galliard Homes to deliver 600 homes at the Plough Lanes site,  literally yards from the former football ground.

AFC Wimbledon

This will help to fund the £16m cost of building a new stadium.

The original Wimbledon FC was forced to leave Plough Lane in 1991 following the publication of the Taylor Report.

And after sharing Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace until 2002, moved to Milton Keynes.

AFC Wimbledon, formed in 2002 in response to the relocation, have played all their home games at Kingsmeadow, also home to non-league Kingstonian.

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Car crashes into Manchester construction site

November 18th, 2014 Comments off

Three men have been injured after a car crashed into a construction site in Manchester on Saturday morning.

Police discovered a black 4 x 4 Mercedes had driven through the site fence and fallen down a 25 ft drop into a building site on Miller Street at the junction of Corporation Street.

The driver, aged 27 and two passengers, both aged 26 years, were taken to hospital for treatment.

The site was not active at the time and no-on was injured from the construction team.

A 27-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  He remains in police custody.

Sergeant Mark Thomas said, “The driver and passengers involved in this incident appear to have had a lucky escape.

“I would ask anyone who may have either witnessed the collision or who saw the Mercedes being driven prior to the collision to contact us.

“This once again highlights the dangers of driving irresponsibly and after consuming alcohol.”

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Balfour Beatty to close Lincolnshire office

November 17th, 2014 Comments off

Balfour Beatty is planning to close its Barton-upon-Humber office in North Lincolnshire, putting 26 jobs at risk.

Consultation has started with staff at the office about redundancies and the option of relocating to Balfour’s Leeds office.

Barton-upon-Humber is the former head office of Birse Plant Hire, which was incorporated into Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering in July 2006 following the acquisition of the Birse Group.

The BPH plant operation will be unaffected by the closure.

A Balfour spokesperson said: “We have spoken to employees in our Balfour Beatty Barton office, regarding a proposal to close the office and relocate to our existing Leeds office.

“This is in order to reduce property overheads costs. There are 26 employees based in this office.

“We haven’t yet entered into formal consultation with our employees on this proposal so it would be inappropriate to comment further.

“Our BPH plant hire business which is on the same plot is unaffected.”

We understand the move is a local change and not related to the ongoing KPMG review into Balfour which is due to report by the end of this year.

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Grand Designs team buys Build Show

November 13th, 2014 Comments off

The Build Show has been bought by the company which runs Grand Designs Live.

Essex based Media 10 will make the Build Show part of its newly launched UK Construction Week.

The event will bring together Grand Designs Live and the Build Show at Birmingham’s NEC from October 6-11 next year.

UK Construction Week will also include seven other events covering all aspects of the industry and hopes to attract 50,000 trade visitors.

Media 10’s CEO Lee Newton said the new show will be “the strongest trade event the building and construction industry has ever seen.”

He added: “Apart from incorporating Grand Designs Live into UK Construction Week, we are proud to add the Build Show to this impressive event offering every profession valuable exposure to the latest innovation in the building industry.”

Paul Godwin, who launched Build Show late last year said: “The response received to the Build Show from the industry has been tremendous.”

 

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Crane drivers strike hits London and south east sites

November 12th, 2014 Comments off

Tower cranes at site across London and the South East were brought to a standstill as HTC drivers delivered the first of three planned days of stoppages.

Major sites at London Bridge, Elephant & Castle, Victoria and Nine Elms were hit as crane drivers kept away from work.

Construction union UCATT claimed the strike was solid among the 180 crane drivers employed by HTC.

But as the dispute over pay grew ever more acrimonious HTC has barred striking crane drivers from returning to work over this weekend.

Despite 11th hour talks between union officials and HTC a deal could not be struck before today.

A spokesman for UCATT said: “There has been action across the country including pickets at HTC’s Sheffield headquarters.

“Our members are adamant they will continued with action until this dispute is resolved.”

The crane strike is understood to have hit many contractors’ sites, including BAM, Costain, Kier, Galliford Try, Lend Lease, McGee and Sisk.

Further stoppages are planned for the 14 and 21 of November

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Keltbray gets February start to demolish Earls Court

November 10th, 2014 Comments off

Developer Capital & Counties has today confirmed that Keltbray will start demolition in February of the famous Earls Court exhibition halls in West London.

The vast job is due to take 18 months to two years to complete, paving the way for major construction works to create a new 7,500-home neighbourhood.

Sir Robert McAlpine and Keltbray have been on board as construction and demolition advisers on the vast project.

The first phase of the £3bn Earls Court scheme at Lillie Square has been prelet and enabling works are almost complete.

Lillie Square

Lillie Square will consist of 808 homes and will sit next to four new neighbourhoods planned on 77 acres surrounding Earls Court exhibition halls.

A contractor is yet to be confirmed for the first blocks at Lillie Square.

The masterplan has formal outline planning consent for 10.1m square feet, with the Empress State Building office tower consented for a further 610,000sq ft.

In total the Earl’s Court development will deliver 7,500 new homes and 10,000 new jobs.

It will also see the development of a new primary school, a new leisure centre, new health facilities as well as community and cultural spaces.

Thirty seven acres of green open space will be provided, including a new five acre park and there will also be significant improvements to the transport infrastructure including increased capacity at Earls Court, West Kensington and West Brompton underground stations.

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