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12 firms vie to revive the derelict Richard Rogers site

October 30th, 2009 2 comments

rogerssiteBritish Land asks young architects to find uses for the City’s abandoned ‘cheese grater’ tower

A dozen young architects have been shortlisted for a temporary ideas competition to fill the site of Richard Rogers’ “cheese grater”, which was mothballed by the developer last summer.

The move by British Land has come as a shock to Rogers Stirk Harbour, which was only told of the plans earlier this month.

Opening up vacant plots is part of a wider initiative by the City of London’s planning authority to force developers to turn to alternative uses for sites indefinitely put on hold by the credit crunch.

Shortlisted firms include Young Architect of the Year 2009 finalists Duggan Morris and Glowacka Rennie along with 2007 winner, Carmody Groarke, with submitted ideas for the Leadenhall tower site ranging from a city farm to a viewing platform.

The winning design, which could sit on the site for up to five years, will be announced by competition organiser Wordsearch in the next few weeks.

The Corporation of London is determined not to have the Square Mile riddled with derelict plots and one shortlisted architect said the developer had been “bounced” into the initiative. British Land declined to comment.

Christine Cohen, chairman of the planning committee said “We need something on the site rather than a hole. There are various sites in mind [for similar schemes] in the City.”

Other high-profile developments across the capital are also looking at temporary uses, including the troubled Chelsea Barracks, which is considering an antiques fair, and Noho Square — originally intended as a Candy & Candy mixed-use development — which may be turned into allotments.

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A Call for the end to building deaths

July 12th, 2009 Comments off

Call to end Building Site Deaths

Call to end Building Site Deaths

An official report has claimed deaths of construction workers are “socially acceptable” in the UK, and calls for major changes to address the problem.

The study – entitled One Death is Too Many – has been published by the Department for Work and Pensions.

It comes after claims by unions that the government wanted to water down the report and bury its findings.

The report calls for company directors to be made legally responsible should a worker die from safety breaches.

‘Legal requirement’

It also proposed that the role of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority should be extended to the construction sector. The latest figures have shown that 53 building workers were killed in the industry last year, down from 73 in the year before, but the report’s author, Rita Donaghy, a former chair of arbitration service Acas, claims there is “no sense of shock at the regular toll of fatalities”.

“We should aim to raise the profile so a construction industry death becomes socially unacceptable,” she added.

She writes that such deaths are rarely reported, prosecutions are “ludicrously low”, and when the public are told of the level of deaths the typical response is, “I’m surprised it is as low as that”.

Ms Donaghy urges that directors are given explicit legal duties to ensure good health and safety on building sites.

“Like seat belts and drink driving, there comes a time when good practice has to become a legal requirement”, she says.

‘Greater protection’

An unknown number of casual building workers are used by gangmasters, a sector which she calls “the twilight zone”.

The building union Ucatt , which has this week accused the government of trying to delay the publication in an attempt to bury the recommendations, welcomed the report’s release today. “By extending the Gangmasters Act tens of thousands of construction workers will be given greater protection overnight,” said union general secretary Alan Ritchie.

“Companies which do not meet health and safety criteria will be barred from supplying labour.

“Cowboy companies which kill workers will be barred from the industry.”

The TUC general secretary Brendan Barber welcomed the report and said he hoped the government would act quickly to fully implement the findings to prevent more needless deaths.

Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The report makes a number of recommendations which government departments will now consider, alongside the current and future safety challenges posed by the construction industry.

“Despite the welcome recent fall in construction fatalities, any death or major injury is a tragedy for individuals, their families and their colleagues, and more work is needed to bring the number of accidents down.”

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Site crane crashes through Liverpool apartment block

July 6th, 2009 1 comment

Bowmer and Kirkland site crane crashes through Liverpool apartment block

A 200 foot crane at the Bowmer and Kirkland construction site crashed through the roof of an apartment block in Liverpool city centre earlier today, sparking a massive search and rescue operation, the Liverpool Echo reported.

The Royal Liverpool hospital was put on standby amid fears of casualties, the newspaper reported.

The man driving the 100 tonne crane was thrown from the cab on impact and  his condition at present is unknown

A number of residents are trapped inside the apartment block.

The crash happened at 12.05pm in Tabley Street, behind Park Lane, on the outskirts of the city centre.

Police, fire and ambulance crews were called to the scene. Merseyside Fire and Rescue service described it as a “major incident”.

A builder working on the Bowmer and Kirkland site told the Liverpool Echo: “We heard a massive rumble which sounded like a plane taking off or a clap of thunder and we all turned round and watched as the crane fell into the building.”

Maria Toolan, who lives in the apartment block opposite, said: “I heard a horrendous noise and ran to the balcony. I watched in horror as a massive red crane tumbled into the apartment block.

I was in complete shock as all I could think of is what if it had fallen the other way and landed on me.”

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