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The Princess Royal officially opens the University’s Student Central

January 30th, 2015 Comments off

ON her latest visit to the University of Huddersfield, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal hailed its recent successes. “What you have achieved here is remarkable,” she said, as she carried out the official opening of the new Student Central building.

The Princess was introduced by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Cryan, who said that the past year had been the most amazing since the institution’s origins in 1825. He cited a string of awards, including the University of the Year, top place in a Best University Workplace Survey, plus an award for Best Estates and Facilities. Also, the findings of an international survey had just placed Huddersfield at fifth in the world for student experience.

Inviting Her Royal Highness to open Student Central, Professor Cryan said that the building was unique in the UK university sector for the way in which it integrated a wide range of sports and student support facilities.

The University of Huddersfield’s ambition was to inspire, to innovate and to be international, continued Professor Cryan. “And that is what this building represents,” he said. He also paid a special tribute to retiring Deputy Director of Estates and Facilities Alan Johnson, who had played a key role in the development of Student Central.

As she unveiled a ceremonial plaque, the Princess Royal paid tribute to the University’s achievements and recalled the fact that she had paid a visit less than a year ago, as part of a project to boost the numbers of women studying science and technology subjects.

Her latest visit focussed on the University’s achievements in the fields of textiles and fashion. She was fascinated by a display mounted by eight talented undergraduates who are in the final stages of fashion and textiles degree courses.

After her inspection of the fashion students’ work, the Princess Royal toured Student Central, meeting a range of the specialist teams based there. With a fast-paced game of volleyball as the backdrop, she spoke to Laurie Nettleton, who is Manager of the University of Huddersfield Sport and Fitness Department; current Students’ Union president Josh Elderfield; the Head of the University’s Employability and Careers Service, Stephen Boyd; and David Keegan, of the Wellbeing and Disability Services.

She then spoke to Gemma Fieldsend, who is mental Health and Wellbeing Advisor, plus two student helpers, Dave Wells and Amy Burrow. Her Royal Highness heard about the self-help groups, including one that tackles eating disorders, which are run by the service.

When Her Royal Highness visited the International Office, she met its Director, Andrew Mandebura, Head of International Operations Joanne Ryan and students from a wide range of countries. She also spoke to the Director of Estates and Facilities Colin Blair and his deputy Alan Johnson.

The Princess was escorted throughout her visit by the Vice-Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Timothy Hare, and among the dignitaries in attendance were the new Bishop of Huddersfield, the Rt Revd Dr Jonathan Gibbs, and the Mayor of Kirklees, Cllr Ken Smith.

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Contractors named for Quintain Estates’ Wembley Park development

January 28th, 2015 Comments off

Quintain Estates has selected a panel of 10 contractors to deliver the remaining work on its £2.1bn transformation of Wembley Park, Construction News can reveal.

Quintain-North-West-Village-Emerald-GardensThe successful contractors will be asked to tender for the remaining phases within the scheme, which will include residential, student, hotel, leisure and commercial office facilities.

The contractors on the panel are Bouygues, Carillion, GB Solutions, Higgins, John Sisk & Son, Kier, Mace, Vinci, VolkerFitzpatrick and Wates.

Projects will range in size up to the “hundreds of millions”, according to Quintain head of construction Matt Voyce, with contractors chosen depending on their areas of expertise and “appetite for risk” on jobs.

He said: “As projects come forward we will select from the appropriate contractors on our panel.

“We look to engage with our panel on a quarterly basis in order to make sure we are giving them [notice] of emerging plans, while we hear first-hand about what’s happening in their businesses.”

Three contractors from the panel have already been shortlisted for the next phase of the project’s North West Village (pictured), comprising 370 homes as well as public space.

They are Bouygues, Kier and Wates.

A contractor is expected to be appointed by the end of February.

John Sisk & Son has won the bulk of work at the Wembley scheme, earning the contractor around £300m to date.

It is working on construction of the 475-home ‘Emerald Gardens’ phase of the redevelopment.

The project consists of seven buildings arranged around private gardens, next to the civic centre and the London Designer Outlet, which were also developed by Quintain.

Other projects in the completed first phase of the development included the renovation of Wembley Arena and construction of 500 residential apartments.

Quintain has also completed a 361-bed Hilton hotel, a 660-bed student accommodation scheme and a multi-storey car park.

Mr Voyce said that the developer wanted to mirror the relationship the group had established with John Sisk & Son with the other contractors on the panel.

He told Construction News: “It is important to us to have contractors that are like-minded to Quintain and who want to have a long-term working relationship, and want to sit alongside someone like John Sisk & Son, who has performed very well for us and who we have had a relationship with now for seven [or] eight years.”

In November 2014, the developer announced the extension of its development pipeline to more than 1,700 homes across the entire western half of the scheme, with construction due to start on half of these by the end of this year.

Mr Voyce said “recognising the need to accelerate delivery” was an important factor in selecting the firms.

The panel strengthened Quintain’s commitment to be transparent with contractors, he added.

“That level of commitment and method of working is what we expect from our suppliers, as well as loyalty [to Quintain].”

Among the contractors on Quintain’s panel, Wates and GB Solutions have previously bagged contracts on the Greenwich Peninsula regeneration.

Quintain severed its ties with the south London scheme in November 2013, after it sold its remaining stake in the project to Hong Kong billionaire Henry Cheng Kar-Shun’s investment company Knight Dragon.

The Greenwich Peninsula scheme was originally a 50/50 joint venture between Quintain and Lend Lease before Knight Dragon bought out the latter’s share in 2012.

This week’s news came ahead of the relaunch of Quintain’s masterplan for Wembley Park.

The company is working with stakeholders and its design team to produce the revised masterplan.

But Mr Voyce was unable to confirm which schemes would be altered in the plan, including whether the 5,000 homes target would be increased or lowered.

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Family trapped in civils site mud bath

January 27th, 2015 Comments off

Two children had to be rescued after they became stuck in mud on the construction site of the guided busway in Manchester.

A family out walking in the fields near Leigh tried to cross the public transport works and got into difficulties in the soft mud yesterday morning.

The two adults were stuck up to their waists at one point but managed to get to safety.

The two children, who were in the mud to their knees, were not strong enough to pull themselves out.

Fire crews from Atherton and Leigh stations and a water incident unit from Eccles attended the scene and managed to find another way on to the building site to rescue them.

Ambulance crews checked out the family members, who were suffering from the cold but were otherwise unhurt.

Watch manager Dave Holden from Atherton fire station  said “The family was out for a walk along the bus route that’s under construction and through the fields, and they’ve tried to get across and got stuck.

“A lot of heavy plant machinery has been going up and down there and it’s churning up the mud. When it gets wet and cold, like it has been recently, there’s about two feet of soft mud.

“At one point the adults were almost waist deep in the mud but they’ve self-rescued. We had a young girl and a young boy stuck, so we found a different route down to wade across to get them out.

“They were just cold, and I think they were a bit embarrassed too.”

Holden said walkers out near the guided busway route should think again before trying to use the building site as a short cut.

He said: “It’s a construction site and just because the gates are open it doesn’t mean it’s safe to go through if you’re out walking, particularly in this sort of weather.”

Balfour Beatty is main contractor on the £27m project which is due for completion later this year.

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Two injured by falling scaffold pole on City street

January 26th, 2015 Comments off

A man has been arrested after two women suffered serious head injuries from a falling scaffold pole in the City of London.

The injured pair, both in their 50s, were taken to hospital after the pole fell from a building site in Eldon Street this morning.

City of London Police said: “A man has been arrested after two women suffered serious head injuries in Eldon Street. The two were injured after an object fell on them.”

The man has been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm.

It is believed the injured women were walking on the opposite side of the road from the nearest scaffold clad building.

Witness Michael Jarman said ”The two ladies on the floor seemed to be in a lot of pain.

“There was a fair bit of metal all around them that from what looked like it had fallen from the scaffolding above.

“There were a lot of people at the scene attending to the two ladies. One lady was sitting up right with a lot of blood around her face while the other lady was lying on the ground. She seemed in a lot of pain.

“Ambulance and police were quick to the scene but I had to leave, made my stomach turn.

“It was mayhem.”

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Vale Park wins Preston demolition package

January 23rd, 2015 Comments off

Vale Park Demolition Services has been appointed to clear the site of an £18m student halls scheme in Preston.

Eric Wright is main contractor on the regeneration scheme in Friargate for Developer Portergate Properties.

Vale Park is mobilising a team of 15 demolition experts using specialist equipment working on the site.

Tom Perks, contracts manager at Vale Park, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed on such a high-profile construction scheme in Preston and to be working with the Eric Wright team to deliver the project successfully for Portergate.

friargate--Preston“At the moment we are operating inside the existing buildings on the site carrying out removal work and our specialist equipment will be on site shortly and then we will begin the overall site clearance.

“It is a big task, but it is something we specialise in and we have more than 20 years’ experience in this kind of work.”

Portergate’s redevelopment of the northern end of Friargate is the biggest building project currently underway in the city.

The transformation of the 1.5 acre site will bring new retail premises onto Friargate and a 253-room building providing boutique hotel-style accommodation to students at the nearby University of Central Lancashire.

Anthony Jackson, chairman of Portergate Properties, said: “We can’t wait to see the arrival of the heavy demolition equipment on site.”

At the height of the building project around 200 workers will be employed on the Friargate development site.

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Welding warning over Chinese rebar

January 21st, 2015 Comments off

Construction companies are being urged to check their rebar stocks following the latest warning over the quality of Chinese imports.

Trade body UK Steel claims there could be problems with imported rebar containing small amounts of other elements added in order to qualify the steel as “alloy” and thus benefit from an export tax rebate.

UK Steel said a “significant” proportion of the Chinese rebar sold in the UK contains boron in excess of 8 parts per million with some samples tested containing boron at 30 ppm.

Experts at the Welding Institute have issued guidance that rebar containing boron in excess of 5 ppm requires changes from the normal welding techniques used.

The only way of telling which Chinese rebar contains boron would be to test each bar.

Ian Rodgers Director, UK Steel, said: “Our advice to any fabricator with stocks of Chinese rebar is that they should urgently identify any bars containing more than 5 ppm of boron and segregate them.

“These bars should not be used in structures requiring welding until staff have been trained in the specific welding techniques required.

“Coming on top of the quality problems affecting some Chinese bars last year, this latest development does raise questions about the cost effectiveness and safety of sourcing outside of Europe.”

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Design unveiled for City of London’s tallest skyscraper

January 19th, 2015 Comments off

The headquarters of insurance giant Aviva in London could be demolished to make way for what would be the city’s tallest tower.

london tallest skyscraperArchitect Avery Associates has been working up a design for the site known as 1 Undershaft, which would see the existing building replaced with a sloping sided skyscraper rising to almost 270m.

The unique profile of the building has already prompted one contractor to dub the building “The Fang”.

A spokeswoman for the architect said: “It is very early days and a planning application has not been submitted yet.

“We have come up with a scheme that is sympathetic to the surrounding buildings.”

The architect has aimed to preserve the views of the nearby Gherkin with a building that has sloping sides and mirrors the Cheesgrater tower on its other side.

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Tesco to halve capital spending

January 16th, 2015 Comments off

Tesco-Logo-Colour1Supermarket giant Tesco will slash capital spending to £1bn in 2015/16.

The announcement was made in its latest trading statement to the City on Thursday.

Tesco has cancelled plans to build 49 new stores which will wipe 1.8m sq ft of new space from its pipeline of planned work.

The firm cut capital spending in the current financial year by £400 last summer to £2.1bn.

That figure will now be halved.

Chief executive Dave Lewis said: “We have some very difficult changes to make.

“I am very conscious that the consequences of these changes are significant for all stakeholders in our business but we are facing the reality of the situation.”

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Hanson restarts brick production in Accrington

January 14th, 2015 Comments off

Hanson has restarted production at its Accrington plant to feed soaring demand for bricks.

David Cameron and George Osborne yesterday visited the site which was forced to close down seven years ago.

bricks_pileHanson has reopened the factory following a £1.6m investment which has created 30 new jobs with 20 more set to follow this year.

Hanson has already reopened its nearby Claughton Manor plant near Lancaster and added additional shifts at its midlands factories at Kirton, Desford and Wilnecote.

The restart at Accrington will be carried out in two stages with phase one kicking off this month and phase 2, which will require further investment of around £350,000, following later in 2015.

Osborne said: “The closure of the brickworks was a painful symbol of how our economy has suffered in recent years, and its re-opening is the strongest evidence possible that Britain and the north-west are coming back, and are once again on course to prosperity.”

Stephen Harrison, Managing Director of Hanson Building Products, said: “We are anticipating further growth in new housing starts in the short to medium term and are confident that this factory has a prominent part to play in the economic recovery.”

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Ray O’Rourke to test new building system on his own mansion

January 12th, 2015 Comments off

Ray O’Rourke is planning to pilot a new prefabricated concrete panel building system on his own multi-million pound mansion in Essex.

rayorourkeO’Rourke received planning after winning an appeal to knock down his existing £7m arts and craft home to replace it with a two-storey mansion with basement.

The new home in the exclusive Essex village of Fryerning will be built from large concrete panels, a system produced at the firm’s factory in Steetley.

The method is part of a programme of building research being undertaken with the University of Cambridge with the aim of providing bespoke designs that can be delivered at speed.

So far the firm has used it to build schools and offices and O’Rourke is understood to be keen to use a similar approach in the housing market for one-off designs.

A source told the Enquirer: “It is all really hush-hush at present, but plans are going ahead to start production for Ray’s new home.”

The new house will be built to mimic the arts and crafts design of the existing building on the site, and will include plain clay tiles, green oak, timber external joinery and handcrafted decorative chimney stacks.

His design also includes a basement with sauna, gym and cinema.

Laing O’Rourke’s Explore Manufacturing facility is now producing more than £40m of pre-cast products a year, just five years after opening.

The plan is to grow that to £150m within the next five years and planning consent has been sought for a further facility next to the current factory building.

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