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February 10, 2021

PROTEUS FACADES HELPS BRING FORMER BOOKSHOP BACK TO LIFE

The former Ottakar’s bookstore in High Wycombe has been given a new lease of life and brought back to its former glory as a pillar of the town centre, through a state-of-the-art regeneration project featuring bespoke cladding panels from Proteus Facades. The Proteus SC cladding panels are arranged in a

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EXCHANGE QUAY PROGRESSES £500K REFURBISHMENT PROGRAMME

Following the successful transformation of the reception area in Building 8 last year, the team at Exchange Quay has re-appointed highly-acclaimed architecture and interior design studio, Jasper Sanders + Partners along with contractor Aztec Interiors, to further extend the reception revamp at the Manchester office development. Works have now commenced

Read More »

Experts encourage construction to embrace new energy assessment

Building consultancy, C80 Solutions Ltd, has teamed up with electric heating manufacturer, ThermoSphere, to launch TalkSAP10, a new initiative helping the construction sector to understand and embrace a major change in the way energy performance is assessed in residential developments. The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) for calculating energy use is being

Read More »

LITTLE CHANGE POST-BREXIT FOR THE PLASTIC PIPES INDUSTRY

Now we are in post-Brexit Britain, what is the current situation with the plastic pipes and fittings industry in the UK, a significant industry supplying the utilities, construction, housing and plumbing sectors? Caroline Ayres of the BPF Pipes Group confirmed: “Our industry is continuing to supply its markets without any

Read More »

Phoenix adds to its team with drive for UK growth

Leading brickwork, scaffolding and drywall contractor, Phoenix Brickwork is expanding its UK reach with the appointment of several new team members. Well respected industry professionals Pav Bains, Jim Chandler, Wayne Addison, Neil Weston, Raj Bains and Steve Gates are joining Phoenix, with more appointments pending. Previously all had worked for

Read More »

Government will challenge low bids

Contractors face “intense scrutiny” if they submit unrealistically low bids for public sector contracts, according to a senior official at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Fergus Harradence, deputy director for infrastructure and construction, told a webinar hosted by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) that any

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BDC 317 : Jun 2024

February 10, 2021

Yorkshire company wins £40m Siemens Mobility contract to build the UK’s newest train factory

Yorkshire-based GMI Construction Group PLC beats competition to secure main contract to build rail manufacturing facility in Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire Additional £10m in contracts awarded to other local and UK suppliers Part of £200m UK investment; majority of first phase spend contracted with Yorkshire businesses As part of its commitment to UK jobs and growth and supporting the Government’s levelling up agenda, Siemens Mobility has awarded the £40m contract to build its new rail manufacturing site at Goole to Yorkshire-based GMI Construction Group Plc. It is part of the first phase of investment in Siemens Mobility’s new £200m train manufacturing plant and rail supply chain village, which has seen contracts worth £50m let to UK companies – the majority of which are based locally in Yorkshire. In addition to the main facility, GMI will construct the four and a half kilometres of rail track needed for connection to the main railway line. Siemens Mobility has also contracted a further £10m to other UK suppliers. Local suppliers supporting the construction include: C R Reynolds (enablement works), Clay 10 (site visuals) and Premier Modular (temporary offices). The first trains to be manufactured in Goole will be new Tube trains for London’s Piccadilly line. Transport for London is committed to supporting the wider UK through its supply chain, showing how investing in the London transport network bolsters the nation economically.  The UK supply chain involvement extends to train components. The latest appointments include Yorkshire-based LPA Lighting for the interior train lighting, Midlands-based suppliers Baker Bellfield to supply cab partition walls and I M Kelly for driver seats. Sambit Banerjee, Managing Director of Siemens Mobility Rolling Stock & Customer Services said: “Our goal is to really put Goole on the map. We want to create more than just a rail manufacturing factory, this is about generating long-term investment, skills and jobs.” He continued: “We are actively looking for as many UK suppliers as possible to contribute to Goole’s success. The appointment of GMI as main contractor, with shared values and growth ambitions for the local area, is a clear step in the right direction. Together we will make this an important and sustainable rail centre of excellence for the future.” Lee Powell, Divisional Managing Director at GMI Construction Group said: “We are delighted to be working on the Goole project. We are fully committed to the local area, just as Siemens Mobility are. We have a very strong local supply chain and everyone who is involved in this project from GMI Construction lives within a 25-mile radius of the site. We have an Employment and Skills Plan including creating apprenticeships and employing those who have previously been unemployed, and we will be engaging with local educational establishments and charities.” GMI’s commitment to using local suppliers, emphasis on employment skills and education, as well as its outstanding record of project delivery was key to the Leeds-based firm securing the contract. Siemens Mobility’s Goole development will create up to 700 direct jobs, with a further 250 roles created during the construction phase and an additional 1,700 indirect supply chain opportunities. It is scheduled to open in 2023. The company plans to create an associated rail supplier village and innovation centre with co-located suppliers making Goole a rail centre of excellence for the UK. In total, Siemens Mobility works with around 3,000 suppliers, 47% of which are UK-based SMEs. Around 90% of Siemens Mobility Limited’s spend is with UK-based suppliers. For more information please visit: www.siemens.co.uk/goole

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PROTEUS FACADES HELPS BRING FORMER BOOKSHOP BACK TO LIFE

The former Ottakar’s bookstore in High Wycombe has been given a new lease of life and brought back to its former glory as a pillar of the town centre, through a state-of-the-art regeneration project featuring bespoke cladding panels from Proteus Facades. The Proteus SC cladding panels are arranged in a striking half-hexagon design that appears to float outward from the main structure. The 6 metrehigh façade, where the panels themselves are embellished by intricately designed, leaf-shaped perforations, has the ability to stop people in their tracks while they gaze at the intriguing, shimmering aesthetic. Prior to the refurbishment, the original building, which once stood proud on the corner of Queens Square fell into disrepair after being left unattended by its previous owner for quite some time.  In 2019 however, as part of an ongoing initiative to acquire, regenerate and re-let vacant shops to independent businesses, Wycombe District Council purchased the building and invested in a state-of-the-art refurbishment project. This included a complete redesign of the interior and an external upgrade to improve aesthetics and add more versatility to the town centre.  During the initial stages of the redevelopment, main contractors, Abbeymead Building Ltd. found that the glazing to the upper levels would need replacing, along with limited structural support positions where the perforated cladding could connect. This resulted in a complete redesign of this section, with full replacement of the windows and the spanning solution of the Proteus SC, lightweight perforated anodised aluminium panels, manufactured by Proteus Facades. Proteus SC is an engineered panel system that is offered in either solid, perforated or mesh panel formats. By utilising an extensive range of metals, colours, textures and forms it can add another dimension to any façade cladding project. The system can be manufactured between 1mm and 5mm in thickness and an acoustic insulation layer encapsulated within the panel. Installed by J & PW Developments Ltd,the Proteus SC panels at White Hart Street, were fabricated from a 3mm J57Up aluminium alloy with a brush polished, mirror effect finish, anodised to Anolok 543. The bespoke laser-cut leaf pattern on the panels, visible both inside and out, also provides further visual appeal to the façade, offering a delicately designed brise soleil within and a striking external aesthetic for passers-by. Each Proteus SC panel is secured in place using a bespoke aluminium support system, also manufactured by Proteus Facades, with a matching anodised coating. The brackets are fixed back to the original structure with a 200mm x 50mm aluminium extrusion at panel joints, spanning approximately 3700mm between the floor and slabs, and with 1100mm cantilevered upper and lower sections. Further external works carried out during the redevelopment, completed in December 2020, include replacement of the flat roof and installation of a new shopfront set back from the pavement to create a covered seating area. Internally, the building has been completely restructured to offer a ground floor space ideal for use as a restaurant and shops, along with first floor studio-style offices. All of which have great potential to attract some of High Wycombe’s up and coming businesses, which in turn is expected to boost footfall and improve the overall experience for visitors to the town. For further information about Proteus SC or to view more inspirational rainscreen facades from Proteus Facades, visit: www.proteusfacades.com or call: 0151 545 5075.

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EXCHANGE QUAY PROGRESSES £500K REFURBISHMENT PROGRAMME

Following the successful transformation of the reception area in Building 8 last year, the team at Exchange Quay has re-appointed highly-acclaimed architecture and interior design studio, Jasper Sanders + Partners along with contractor Aztec Interiors, to further extend the reception revamp at the Manchester office development. Works have now commenced on the reception area of Building 5 and Till Asset Management, acting on behalf of Exchange Quay, has announced a further investment into remodelling the Building 1 reception area as part of the scheme’s ongoing commitment to heightening its occupier experience. The investment into upgrading the reception areas totals some half a million pounds. Similarly to Building 8, the new revamped reception areas will focus on carefully restoring the design intent of the original buildings, and the architects will seek inspiration from two nearby canal systems to create a maritime theme for both reception areas. The buildings will benefit from new wall panelling, carefully crafted joinery and a finish that incorporates the external features and brings a classic sense of identity back to the two buildings, while introducing a more modern way of working. North West contractor Aztec Interiors will undertake the 6 week programme to upgrade the reception in Building 5 first before moving onto Building 1. Exchange Quay, comprising 435,000 sq ft, is one of the largest office developments in the North West with over 4,000 workers.  The campus, which has its own Metrolink tram stop, is located approximately 1.5 miles to the southwest of Manchester City Centre and is strategically located just off Trafford Road which links Salford Quays to both Manchester City Centre and the regional motorway network. Liam MacCarthy, Director at Till Asset Management, said; “We are delighted to announce plans to further extend the reception revamp at Exchange Quay. Following some excellent tenant feedback on Building 8, we were pleased to welcome back the leading design team to continue the works on the entrance areas of Building 5 and also 1. The new area at Building 8 has already made a huge impact on tenants and we look forward to seeing the new works progress.” Jasper Sanders, Design Director at Jasper Sanders + Partners, said; “Creating the re-design for reception 8 at one of the most impressive office developments in the North was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and we are looking forward to the opportunity to continue implementing the design on Building 5 and then Building 1. The new entrance areas will provide a great sense of identity and connection to the building and provide greater space options for occupiers and visitors alike.” The quoting rent on Exchange Quay is £20 per sq ft plus car parking.

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UK SAFETY EXPERT ARCO SHARES GUIDANCE ON FLOOD RECOVERY AFTER RECENT STORMS

With heavy rainfall still predicted and water levels high following recent storms in many parts of the UK, safety expert Arco is sharing expert guidance on cleaning and sanitising after a flood. Recovery can be a lengthy and distressing experience for individuals and communities and Arco is supporting flood victims and those involved in the clear up operation, through a comprehensive flooding resource, which advises on how to clean up effectively and safely. The impact of flooding can be devastating, not just because those affected experience the trauma of the event, but also the damage to the property, its contents and the effect on safety and hygiene standards. Flooding may also put employees at risk and stop work in its tracks, affecting productivity and livelihoods, so the clear up operation is critical. When it is safe to return to the premises, the first action should be to assess all potential hazards. Hygiene should be prioritised as many health risks can arise, for example when waste water and flood water mix. For those working on the clear up, personal protection is crucial, not only to prevent infection from contaminated flood water but to help prevent other accidents such as slips and trips, ensuring the work is completely quickly and safely. As a core funder to the National Emergencies Trust, Arco is proud to help the NET which is supporting the local flood response teams in addition to its flooding support resource. The aftermath of a flood can be overwhelming, so Arco has written a downloadable Expert Guide which advises on the best course of action. To download the guide, and view Arco’s product recommendations for flood prevention and clean-up, visit: https://www.arco.co.uk/expert_advice_flood_planning

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Hill and L&Q Estates to promote landmark 550 hectare ‘Garden City’ community in Cambridgeshire

The Hill Group and L&Q Estates today announce a maiden joint venture to promote a new community founded on the ‘Garden City’ principles, Westley Green, which comprises over 550 hectares (over 1,350 acres) of strategic land beyond the green belt, to the east of Cambridge. The two leading development and place-making specialists were carefully selected by the landowner to promote this landmark scheme to the emerging Greater Cambridge and East Cambridgeshire Local Plans. If successful, the collaboration will then deliver strategic infrastructure, employment uses and multiple phases of new homes both themselves and through the wider market. Andy Hill, CEO of the Hill Group, commented: “Westley Green is one of the largest strategic land opportunities to come to market in recent times and we are delighted to have been entrusted to progress it by the landowner. It has the opportunity to become a blueprint for sustainable living, providing low carbon, high quality housing and state-of-the-art infrastructure, whilst generating a wealth of vital employment and investment opportunities. We are very much looking forward to working with L&Q Estates, the Cambridge local authorities and surrounding communities to shape Westley Green into a positive legacy for the region.” Ian Hardwick, managing director at L&Q Estates, said: “We have vast experience in steering projects of this nature through from conception to completion. Westley Green is unique by virtue of it being in one single ownership, which will serve to simplify delivery and enable us to create a truly exceptional new settlement.  Key to our success is our willing and pro-active attitude to engaging with the communities in which we operate, and this will be no different. This is our first joint venture with Hill and Westley Green has the potential to be an exceptional development for residents and businesses.” Craig Luttman, Deputy Group Director of Development and Sales at L&Q, explained: “Westley Green is a major step forward in our expansion into Cambridgeshire, accompanying 800 homes that are already planned on sites such as Darwin Green. Partnerships like this – involving like-minded organisations with a long-term commitment to sustainable growth and building beautiful places – underpin our group-wide plans to help tackle the housing crisis. “It’s early days yet, but this project represents a major opportunity to bring investment and homes to the area, and we’re excited to see it progress.” Located close to the hamlet of Six Mile Bottom, between Cambridge and Newmarket, the proposed sustainable new community will seek to build upon the Garden City principles, with an overarching focus on wellbeing, quality of life and placing nature at the heart of design. All parties are striving towards the inclusion of significant on-site employment facilities, as well as flexi and co-working spaces, which could focus on Cambridge’s already established science, technology and agri-tech industries. The partnership is also exploring connecting to the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM) system and autonomous vehicle travel between the neighbourhoods in order to reduce car use. With the potential to deliver up to 8,500 homes, there is a collective ambition to prioritise imaginative and beautiful architectural design, with an emphasis on creating genuinely affordable and low carbon housing. The supporting community facilities would seek to include schools, sporting facilities, playgrounds, shops and supermarkets and a wealth of public parkland and green open spaces. Building on the region’s green credentials, this new community could also provide a comprehensive green infrastructure network, with net biodiversity gains that use zero-carbon and energy-positive technology alongside potential on-site energy generation. For more information on Westley Green or to register for consultation updates, please visit: www.westleygreen.co.uk

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Experts encourage construction to embrace new energy assessment

Building consultancy, C80 Solutions Ltd, has teamed up with electric heating manufacturer, ThermoSphere, to launch TalkSAP10, a new initiative helping the construction sector to understand and embrace a major change in the way energy performance is assessed in residential developments. The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) for calculating energy use is being updated with the arrival of SAP 10, which introduces a 55% reduction in the CO2 emissions factor for electricity, reflecting the rapid decarbonisation of the National Grid.  It will make electricity the most environmentally friendly and best performing heating method for EPC ratings, causing a significant impact on the way new homes in the UK will be heated. C80 Solutions is bringing its specialist expertise in energy assessment and Building Compliance to provide advice on the subject via the TalkSAP10 partnership, which offers a comprehensive hub of practical insight, guides, webinars and technical resources covering the new methodology and its impact on the industry.  Also providing ThermoSphere’s guidance on the latest electric heating technologies, TalkSAP10 is available to anyone involved with the design or specification of heating in residential construction. Redefined by SAP 10 as the emerging clean heat of choice, electric heating will play a key role in helping to meet the government’s target of the UK having net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and a reduction of at least 68% in gas emissions by 2030. With plans also in place to prohibit gas boilers in new build homes by 2025, the preferred primary heat sources for developers look set to become heat pumps, electric panel heaters and electric underfloor heating. There could also be an increase in the use of electric boilers with an indirect cylinder for hot water. Harry Hinchliffe, Energy Consultant and BREEAM Assessor at C80 Solutions, said: “Carbon reduction is one of the most influential factors shaping the future of construction, and we talk to many companies in the industry that find it challenging to stay up to speed with changing regulations and standards relating to energy efficiency in building. As an energy consultancy, C80 Solutions has examined the proposed changes of SAP 10 and we consider them a welcome addition to the calculation methodology, more accurately representing how buildings perform.  As the energy grid continues to become greener, SAP 10 gives developers the opportunity to be more flexible in their design whilst still working towards the government’s carbon reduction targets. TalkSAP10 will help them to achieve that.” Alistair Bell, Managing Director of ThermoSphere commented: “The impact that SAP 10 will have on how we heat homes in the future shouldn’t be underestimated. Through this exciting relationship, we are combining our expertise in electric heating with the exceptional energy assessment knowledge of C80 Solutions to create the TalkSAP10 initiative. It’s there to help anyone who is involved with the heating industry navigate through the changes SAP 10 will bring.” Construction professionals can find out more, join the conversation and register for TalkSAP10 by visiting www.thermosphere.com/talk-sap-10

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LITTLE CHANGE POST-BREXIT FOR THE PLASTIC PIPES INDUSTRY

Now we are in post-Brexit Britain, what is the current situation with the plastic pipes and fittings industry in the UK, a significant industry supplying the utilities, construction, housing and plumbing sectors? Caroline Ayres of the BPF Pipes Group confirmed: “Our industry is continuing to supply its markets without any interruptions, whilst our members continue to operate within Covid-19 guidelines to ensure safe and secure delivery of plastic pipes and fittings to customers.” With Britain leaving the EU, many aspects of the future relationship remain unclear, but BPF Pipes Group manufacturers remain committed to continuing to supply quality products to the same high standards.  These incorporate third party approved products to British European Standards (BS ENs) where applicable, standards which users and specifiers are familiar with and which provide reassurance that the products are always fit for purpose. BPF Pipes Group members remain actively engaged in the processes of drafting new standards and for now nothing will change – manufacturers will continue to supply products that are third party approved to the existing BS ENs. Additionally, the BSI’s membership of CEN and CENELEC is continuing beyond the EU exit transition period.  It will enable the UK’s continued influence over standards produced in both CEN and CENELEC, providing additional certainty and stability to stakeholders. Plastic pipe systems are successfully used in a huge range of sectors in the UK, from water, waste, gas and telecoms to general construction and plumbing, playing a major role in new installed pipe networks as well as in maintaining and improving existing networks.  These types of pipes are also proving ideal for some of the emerging technologies around low-energy use, such as ground source heat pumps, district heating and underfloor heating.  At the end of their service life plastic pipes can be recycled and turned into other useful products to aid the circular economy. More information about plastic pipes is available from www.bpfpipesgroup.com

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New build house prices boom by as much as 48% since 2015, out performing the regular market across the UK

The latest research from new build snagging company, HouseScan, has revealed where new build homebuyers have enjoyed the largest return on their investment in the last five years, as the strongest pockets of the new build market see prices boom by as much as 48%. HouseScan analysed new build house price growth across the sector and found that with a current average of £302,927, new build property prices across the UK have jumped 27% since 2015; comfortably outpacing the 20% increase seen across the existing market. This growth has been driven by the Midlands where new build house prices have climbed by 35% and 32% across the East and West Midlands respectively. London has seen the lowest rate of new build house price growth in the last five years. Despite this, new build homeowners in the capital have still enjoyed a 17% uplift in the value of their property. Again a greater rate of growth than the 13% seen across the existing market which is a trend seen across all regions of the UK. Highest five year new build growth Corby in the East Midlands is the hottest spot in the UK for new build house price growth in the last five years. The area has seen new build property prices boom by 48% since 2015, far higher than the 36% seen across the regular market. Newport in Wales and Salford in the North West have also seen some of the strongest new build house prices growth in this time, up 46%. Both respectively joined in their regions by Monmouthshire (44%) and Manchester (43%). Nuneaton and Bedworth, Oadby and Wigston, Harborough, Tamworth and Tameside also rank in the top 10 areas for new build house price appreciation since 2015, having also seen prices increase by 43%. In London, Redbridge ranks top with a 31% uplift, with Barking and Dagenham (29%), Newham, Bexley and Havering (28%) also performing well. Biggest increases vs existing market When it comes to new build house price growth vs the regular market, West Suffolk has seen the strongest performance. In the last five years, new build values have increased by 38%, 16% more than the 12% increase seen across the regular market. Oldham, Glasgow, the City of London and Gosport have also seen some of the strongest new build price performances when compared to the regular market, with new build growth outstripping the regular market by 14% since 2015. Founder and Managing Director of HouseScan, Harry Yates, commented: “Despite the problematic landscape created due to Covid, the new build market remains a strong investment for UK homeowners, with values continuing to not only climb but doing so at a far greater rate than existing bricks and mortar. While an initial investment in a new build property will require homebuyers to pay a premium, it’s worth every penny in the long term. Even against the backdrop of a global pandemic and a period of prolonged political uncertainty caused by the EU Referendum, new build values have remained resilient and registered some extremely strong uplifts over the last five years.” Table shows average new build house price growth vs existing in since 2015 by UK region Location New Build House Price (Sep 2015) New Build House Price (Sep 2020) Change (%) Existing House Price (Sep 2015) Existing House Price (Sep 2020) Change (%) NB Vs Existing Change (%) East Midlands £207,318 £279,254 35% £158,730 £198,020 25% 10% West Midlands Region £216,299 £284,732 32% £164,694 £204,338 24% 8% Wales £173,370 £227,409 31% £138,216 £167,794 21% 10% North West £181,896 £238,034 31% £140,501 £171,813 22% 9% East of England £292,199 £379,876 30% £243,997 £297,868 22% 8% South West £251,525 £323,942 29% £222,578 £269,229 21% 8% Yorkshire and The Humber £172,589 £221,114 28% £142,806 £170,099 19% 9% South East £314,842 £394,580 25% £282,429 £331,804 17% 8% Northern Ireland £136,310 £169,923 25% £113,209 £136,534 21% 4% Scotland £180,079 £224,341 25% £136,442 £158,057 16% 9% North East £168,832 £200,486 19% £119,697 £131,135 10% 9% London £432,855 £507,961 17% £440,322 £496,541 13% 5% England £254,776 £323,994 27% £213,706 £256,239 20% 7% United Kingdom £237,132 £302,927 28% £199,939 £239,417 20% 8%                 Table shows the areas of the UK to have seen the highest levels of new build house price growth since 2015 Location New Build House Price (Sep 2015) New Build House Price (Sep 2020) Change (%) Existing House Price (Sep 2015) Existing House Price (Sep 2020) Change (%) NB Vs Existing Change (%) Corby £187,366 £277,088 48% £135,650 £184,677 36% 12% Newport £179,476 £262,816 46% £135,166 £183,020 35% 11% Salford £147,374 £215,255 46% £125,344 £170,867 36% 10% Monmouthshire £277,300 £399,382 44% £208,918 £280,816 34% 10% Manchester £158,788 £227,756 43% £143,534 £190,107 32% 11% Nuneaton and Bedworth £231,465 £331,812 43% £137,563 £182,618 33% 11% Oadby and Wigston £210,436 £301,442 43% £171,217 £224,470 31% 12% Harborough £257,042 £367,027 43% £231,367 £304,314 32% 11% Tamworth £163,321 £233,191 43% £148,576 £198,759 34% 9% Tameside £155,510 £221,962 43% £120,307 £158,944 32% 11%                 Table shows the areas of London to have seen the highest levels of new build house price growth since 2015 Location New Build House Price (Sep 2015) New Build House Price (Sep 2020) Change (%) Existing House Price (Sep 2015) Existing House Price (Sep 2020) Change (%) NB Vs Existing Change (%) Redbridge £432,718 £568,526 31% £353,981 £427,579 21% 11% Barking and Dagenham £304,338 £393,922 29% £240,342 £297,626 24% 6% Newham £387,244 £495,866 28% £299,024 £366,494 23% 5% Bexley £271,970 £347,377 28% £287,913 £345,815 20% 8% Havering £318,651 £406,641 28% £298,502 £370,626 24% 3% Waltham Forest £383,855 £485,549 26% £370,973 £458,557 24% 3% Croydon £298,043 £369,353 24% £321,441 £380,378 18% 6% Hackney £531,132 £656,248 24% £522,331 £606,239 16% 7% Greenwich £341,451 £421,329 23% £341,767 £401,145 17% 6% Lewisham £343,170 £416,324 21% £370,766 £433,084 17% 5% Sutton £338,688 £409,347 21% £333,948 £382,605 15% 6%                 Table shows the areas of the UK to have

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Phoenix adds to its team with drive for UK growth

Leading brickwork, scaffolding and drywall contractor, Phoenix Brickwork is expanding its UK reach with the appointment of several new team members. Well respected industry professionals Pav Bains, Jim Chandler, Wayne Addison, Neil Weston, Raj Bains and Steve Gates are joining Phoenix, with more appointments pending. Previously all had worked for Bedford based Irvine-Whitlock. Christian Watson, managing director at Phoenix, welcomed the new appointments as the business looks to boost its £15 million turnover with expansion into London and the Home Counties. “Our reputation for high quality work, exemplary H&S compliance and solid client relationships has already established Phoenix as a strong player north of the Watford Gap. “We are delighted to welcome such experience into the business with the addition of these key industry players and now have the perfect platform to handle projects in the Capital and beyond.” Operating from its Derbyshire and Northamptonshire offices, Phoenix is well established in large parts of the North and Midlands, providing services to key leaders in the construction industry. The new appointments will work alongside the existing team and bring their experience gained across works such as St. Pancras International and Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium, to new projects for Phoenix across Greater London and the South East. “As a business we have always focused on delivering a quality service to our clients and I know that this ethos is shared by our new appointments,” said Christian. “This targeted expansion plan is just the first element of our wider plan to develop Phoenix as a national player and our expanded team will bring our co-ordinated service in brickwork, scaffolding and drywalling to projects further south.”

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Government will challenge low bids

Contractors face “intense scrutiny” if they submit unrealistically low bids for public sector contracts, according to a senior official at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Fergus Harradence, deputy director for infrastructure and construction, told a webinar hosted by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) that any bids which appear unrealistically low will be rejected unless the bidder has a plausible explanation. He told BESA chief executive David Frise that the new procurement rules contained in the government’s ‘Construction Playbook’ were designed to “reset the government’s relationship with the industry because at the moment it is not working for either party”. Unrealistic bidding means the government does not get the quality projects it wants, and the industry suffers from low margins and lack of investment. It also leads to poor payment practices and unfair contract conditions that pass on too much risk to suppliers, added Harradence. “We need to get away from a situation where people are only able to make a profit by putting pressure on their supply chains…that is what led to Carillion,” he said. “We need the industry to behave responsibly and embed the rigorous comprehensive approach to quality that has been so successful in manufacturing.” Honest He said the playbook depended on everyone being more “open and honest with each other” and that government would prefer that projects appeared to cost more from the outset to avoid problems further down the line. The Playbook was developed by the Cabinet Office in partnership with the construction industry and sets out how the government aims to achieve project delivery that is “faster, better and greener”. It includes advice to make wider use of digital and offsite methods and engage with suppliers earlier in the procurement process. Social value also makes up 10% of awarding criteria according to the Playbook, which became mandatory for all projects procured by central government in England last December. The Cabinet Office is working with the industry to develop a clear definition of whole-life value, which is due to be published later this year. “The fundamental principle is that contracts should be profitable,” said Harradence. He also warned clients against issuing incomplete tender documents with poorly defined specifications, which increase the risk for bidders. “We are starting from the basis that we want to do things differently. This persistent under-bidding for projects leads to ministers having to stand up in parliament and apologise for projects running over time and budget,” he told the BESA webinar. He said too many clients were being given totally unrealistic expectations about how much a project would cost, which led to disputes and project over-runs. “There has to be a greater level of trust between the industry and its clients – this is absolutely pivotal. Without that trust, the process will run into the mud.” /mf Harradence confirmed that anyone who underbid would face a detailed interrogation. “If they have a good explanation that’s fine, but it is better for projects to appear to cost more – than us having to go cap in hand to the Treasury for more money further down the line. “We need to spend more time and money at the start of the process to get the design right. That will give clients greater reassurance that they will get the quality asset they need – and BIM can support that by giving a realistic production schedule and more transparency.” Frise said all BESA members would welcome the intention behind the Playbook and the move towards fully designed projects but would be watching carefully to make sure the rules were properly enforced and payment practices improved. The government believes that greater use of digital systems and BIM models can improve transparency, according to Harradence. “We want suppliers competing on the right basis – not on lowest price, but whole life cost, efficiency and social value.” Productivity He added that as much as £35bn of the £50bn worth of projects currently in the central government pipeline could be delivered through offsite fabrication, improving productivity and quality. Harradence said the process of putting the Playbook together was the most open and productive exercise he had experienced in 20 years in government because the pandemic had made sure officials engaged online with representatives from the entire construction supply chain. He also explained that the government was keen to see more people directly employed in the construction sector and that was behind recent policy changes like the revised IR35 scheme. “We would prefer the industry directly employed a smaller number of highly skilled individuals rather than pulling in large numbers of unskilled people from overseas. That model is not viable,” he told the BESA webinar. This should also help to raise the profile of vocational training, he added. “The vocational side has been the poor relation in our Higher Education system. It is often seen as something you fall into rather than aspire to. There’s more of a commitment now to change that…and it will be crucial if we are going to be able to do things like the effective retrofitting of buildings.”www.theBESA.com

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