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July 6, 2021

National Model Design Code Testing Programme – RTPI response

Responding to May’s announcement by Housing Minister Christopher Pincher of the 14 places that have been appointed to test the application of the government’s new design code, Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Chief Executive Victoria Hills said: “The Government’s announcement on the 21st of May the 14 places which will

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BSI welcomes Building Safety Bill

Following the publication of the Building Safety Bill today, I am sharing commentary from Scott Steedman, Director-General, Standards at BSI. He said: “We welcome the new measures set out in the government’s Building Safety Bill. The Bill provides a new regulatory framework that will steer the improvement of practices in

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RMI Contractor’s output down due to Covid-19 pandemic

RMI contractors’ output in 2020 fell due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. While most social housing providers have been able to maintain essential responsive repair services, the provision of planned maintenance has been impacted. Capitalised RMI expenditure for the year was £1.6bn, against a £2.4bn forecast for the

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Mecalac kicks-off ‘All to Play For’ promotion

Mecalac Construction Equipment UK has launched an exciting new football-themed promotion. Intended to inspire the atmosphere of team spirit and competition this summer, All to Play For will bring together operators and owners from across the UK and Ireland, highlighting their place within Mecalac’s global team. Running until mid-July, All

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Smart Building Budget Shortfalls Put Sustainability at Risk

Smart Building Budget Shortfalls Put Sustainability at Risk

Building decision-makers list budget constraints and buy-in from senior leadership as the two biggest barriers to their adoption of smart technologies, according to a new research report from Johnson Controls. The report, ‘Thinking Smart: How the foundations of the UK will be defined by smart buildings’, found that 99% of

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Pedestrian Bridge in Docklands Wins Public Approval

Pedestrian Bridge in Docklands Wins Public Approval

South Dock Bridge, a new pedestrian bridge in London’s Docklands, has received substantial public backing at recent consultation. Designed by Knight Architects, Arcadis, and Kgal for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH), the proposed bridge will support increased volumes of pedestrian traffic which are predicted with the expansion of

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BDC 317 : Jun 2024

July 6, 2021

National Model Design Code Testing Programme – RTPI response

Responding to May’s announcement by Housing Minister Christopher Pincher of the 14 places that have been appointed to test the application of the government’s new design code, Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Chief Executive Victoria Hills said: “The Government’s announcement on the 21st of May the 14 places which will take part in a six-month testing programme for the National Model Design Code is a pragmatic way of identifying problems that may arise in the application of the code and will also hopefully provide some potential solutions. “The RTPI has no doubt that only a multi-disciplinary approach – involving planners, architects, developers, ecologists, highways authorities and communities – will lead to effective delivery of quality design outcomes. These pilot programmes should help to identify how these relationships will work in practice. We will keep a close eye on the results. “However, what is already clear is that substantial extra investment into the planning system will be needed if planners are to play their part fully – almost 90% of our members have told us that they want to prioritise ‘beauty’ in their work but lack the policy support and resources to do so. “As part of our submission to the 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review, we said that a Design Quality Fund of £81 million was needed to support cash-strapped local authorities through design training, specialist expertise and design-focused policy. “These pilot programmes are an encouraging start but it is only through significantly increased funding for local authority planning teams that the government’s ambitions for Design Codes in every council will be realised.”

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Tricas Construction selected for 88-plot development in Old Park, Telford

Tricas Construction has been awarded the contract to deliver a new construction project in Telford. The £10.7 million project will bring 88 residential plots to a site in Old Park, for The Wrekin Housing Group. Tom Broadway, operations manager at Tricas Construction, said: “Tricas are well placed to deliver an exceptional construction project for The Wrekin Housing Group, given our experience building for several other high profile housing associations. It fits perfectly with our growth strategy and will be the first of several planned schemes in Shropshire over the coming months.” Graham Hopewell, contracts manager at Tricas Construction, said: “We look forward to delivering a modern construction project for The Wrekin Housing Group. The 100-week programme will bring 88 plots, comprising of a mix of 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom homes all for affordable rent and will be highly energy efficient, as we draw on our experience with the Grosvenor Road pilot scheme.” The Old Park project represents part of a £170 million investment by The Wrekin Housing Group to deliver affordable housing in the Telford and Wrekin borough. Jane Kind, development manager at The Wrekin Housing Group said: “The project forms part of an ambitious development programme for the Group which will see us developing 1,400 new homes across the region. We remain committed to providing high quality, sustainable homes for local people and creating vibrant communities. “At Wrekin, we are committed ensuring people have access to good quality, affordable housing. Developments like the one at Old Park not only deliver safe and secure homes for families, but also create apprenticeships and other opportunities through the local supply chain.”

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BSI welcomes Building Safety Bill

Following the publication of the Building Safety Bill today, I am sharing commentary from Scott Steedman, Director-General, Standards at BSI. He said: “We welcome the new measures set out in the government’s Building Safety Bill. The Bill provides a new regulatory framework that will steer the improvement of practices in the design, construction and building management sector, particularly in relation to safeguarding the safety of residents in high-rise residential properties. “BSI is working closely with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the new Building Safety Regulator to support the implementation of the Bill in our role as the UK National Standards Body. Our Built Environment Competence Standards programme, launched last year, will support the new legislation, along with the industry training and qualification schemes that will follow and provide a basis for third party accreditation of building safety competence at all levels and across all roles, functions, tasks and activities. We will be publishing specific standards aimed at the competence requirements of the three key roles regulated under the Building Safety Bill, which are those of Principal Designer, Principal Contractor and Building Safety Manager. “Over time we expect that the combination of the new Bill and the competence standards will bring a much needed change of culture to the entire Built Environment sector and long term benefits to the public, living and working in buildings, to the workers in the sector and to the building owners.” Please do let me know if you have any question about the Build Environment Competence Standards programme.

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RMI Contractor’s output down due to Covid-19 pandemic

RMI contractors’ output in 2020 fell due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. While most social housing providers have been able to maintain essential responsive repair services, the provision of planned maintenance has been impacted. Capitalised RMI expenditure for the year was £1.6bn, against a £2.4bn forecast for the year as of January 2020. This was because of lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures, limiting the ability of workers to carry out planned maintenance works. Between 2000 and 2018, the level of social housing RMI contractors’ output had been on a downward trajectory. In 1997, £9.3bn of RMI work was carried out on five and a half million social homes but by 2010 there were less than four million. A key reason for the year-on-year decrease in output between 2016 and 2020 was the annual 1% cut in rents brought about by the government in 2016, which lead to falls in rental income and hence less to invest in property. The impact of the arrival of the pandemic in Q1 2020 does not show up in the annual financial accounts of housing associations and the housing revenue accounts (HRAs) of local authorities for 2019/2020. However, once published later in 2021, the 2020/2021 annual accounts are expected to show a fall in revenues and expenditure. The falls in revenues are indicative of the increase in rent arrears, due to both the furloughing of tenants by their employers and the inability to work due to covid-19 infection or the loss of jobs. Social housing tenants in employment typically work in sectors that have proved vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic such as public transport, healthcare, hospitality and retail. However, with the fall in infections, the success of the vaccination roll-out programme and the easing of restriction, over the medium-term landlords will be able to recover lost income from rent arrears. Abdul Tantouch, Research Analyst at AMA Research comments “other than the negative impact of Covid-19 on planned maintenance expenditure by social housing providers, since 2018 the key issue within the social housing RMI sector has been the high level of investment in fire remediation works in the wake of the Hackitt report into the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Estimates of the final costs of removing unsafe cladding and implementing other fire safety measures range from £10bn up to £15bn. For many housing associations, fire safety works are continuing throughout 2021 and possibly into 2022. Over the longer term, the main driver for RMI growth is likely to be decarbonisation programmes, underpinned by the government’s commitment to the 2050 net zero carbon target.” Lockdowns, and other measures to limit the spread of the virus, have resulted in much RMI work being suspended due to the risk of maintenance staff being in close contact with people in their homes. While most landlords have been able to maintain emergency repair services, planned maintenance/improvement works have had to be suspended. Over the next year or two growth is expected to resume, mainly underpinned by ongoing fire remediation works. Over the next couple of decades, decarbonising social housing stock is expected to be the key growth driver.

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Mecalac kicks-off ‘All to Play For’ promotion

Mecalac Construction Equipment UK has launched an exciting new football-themed promotion. Intended to inspire the atmosphere of team spirit and competition this summer, All to Play For will bring together operators and owners from across the UK and Ireland, highlighting their place within Mecalac’s global team. Running until mid-July, All to Play For offers entrants the chance to win a whole host of prizes. Simply take a picture alongside your Mecalac machine, upload it to social media and use the hashtag #TeamMecalac. Dealers from across the UK will be helping to promote the initiative, filming trick shots with Mecalac branded footballs. Nottingham Forest Women’s Academy player Amelia, whose club is one of the elite pathways to England football, is also throwing her support behind the promotion and will be showing off her skills through a series of short clips. Paul Macpherson, Commercial Director at Mecalac Construction Equipment UK, commented: “All to Play For is an initiative to get dealers and their customers feeling part of the Mecalac team. All participants have a chance of winning some great prizes – just upload a photo using the hashtag and you’re in with a shot!” To see Mecalac’s football-themed video, scan here:

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Smart Building Budget Shortfalls Put Sustainability at Risk

Smart Building Budget Shortfalls Put Sustainability at Risk

Building decision-makers list budget constraints and buy-in from senior leadership as the two biggest barriers to their adoption of smart technologies, according to a new research report from Johnson Controls. The report, ‘Thinking Smart: How the foundations of the UK will be defined by smart buildings’, found that 99% of decision-makers see the value of smart tech – yet just 34% of buildings are currently fitted with smart solutions. In the short-term, this could be putting occupant health and safety at greater risk, while long-term, sustainability targets will be impacted. During the COVID-19 pandemic, smart technologies helped 87% of respondents keep their buildings safe – and over a third (37%) say it was critical or essential to doing so. Despite these evident benefits, budget constraints caused issues for two-thirds (64%) of decision-makers, while 42% struggled to get senior buy-in. When it comes to the smart building budget abyss, commercial office space organisations have to make their money stretch furthest, with required budgets as high as £2.7 million per building, and real budgets coming in as low as £1.3 million. Higher education is also struggling, with a £300,000 deficit from the £1.8 million they need, while government and healthcare organisations feel they have sufficient budgets to see value from their smart technology investments. For senior leaders, this exposes a difficult question: whether to address the problem head-on and make major investments now, or be forced to make urgent improvements down the line – both to reduce ever-mounting costs and meet increasingly tough sustainability targets. But it’s not only a problem in the present. Occupant health and safety takes top priority now, but decision-makers say that in five years’ time, energy efficiency will be top of their priority list. In ten years’ time, sustainability and net zero will take the top spot, signalling a growing focus on climate change. Worryingly, without the right smart technologies in place soon, businesses will struggle to achieve these goals.   Priority in the next year  Priority in the next five years  Priority in the next ten years  Occupant health & safety  59%  32%  32%  Regulatory compliance   42%  28%  26%  Employee experience  40%  34%  37%  Operational efficiency   39%  42%  36%  Energy efficiency   38%  58%  37%  Cost efficiency   37%  44%  31%  Security   34%  32%  29%  Sustainability & net-zero targets   17%  37%  49%  Profits  16%  21%  22%  “Smart buildings haven’t only helped businesses get through the pandemic – they’re also essential to achieving ambitious sustainability targets like Carbon Net Zero,” said Andy Ellis, VP and General Manager, Johnson Controls UK&I. “Smart solutions that integrate with your fire, security, controls, HVAC, and occupancy systems can look across a whole building to see in real-time where efficiencies can be made. Without technologies like these to do the hard work for building staff, achieving new levels of sustainability targets and creating healthy workspaces – that support both the environment and employees – will be hard.”  “It appears that building decision-makers understand the challenge, so now it’s on organisations like ours to speak out, educate the market and embrace the challenges we face around sustainability. We can do this by using smart technologies, so taking this message to the C-Suite and senior leaders – with tangible evidence on the benefits they will bring – will be critical. Then, we can gain their buy-in to ensure our buildings and businesses can be future-ready.” 

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Pedestrian Bridge in Docklands Wins Public Approval

Pedestrian Bridge in Docklands Wins Public Approval

South Dock Bridge, a new pedestrian bridge in London’s Docklands, has received substantial public backing at recent consultation. Designed by Knight Architects, Arcadis, and Kgal for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH), the proposed bridge will support increased volumes of pedestrian traffic which are predicted with the expansion of the Isle of Dogs. Once completed, it is expected to become one of the busiest pedestrian bridges in London. The Isle of Dogs in east London has been a major trading centre beside the River Thames for almost two hundred years, with Canary Wharf – one of the UK’s main financial centres – located here since 1980. The South Dock is one of two surviving docks and acts as a boundary between Canary Wharf and South Quay. The large volume of new development on the Isle of Dogs will increase predicted pedestrian traffic above levels that can be comfortably accommodated with existing infrastructure and the new pedestrian bridge has been proposed to support this expansion. The new bridge will improve walkable connections between existing public open spaces, like Jubilee Park, with proposed development in the area and local public transport interchanges such as the new Elizabeth line station (Crossrail) and the South Quay DLR station. It is also anticipated to improve access to jobs, retail, and other services at Canary Wharf. Following feedback from the RIBA Stage 2 Public Consultation (in 2018), a six-week second Public Consultation was held on the developed design for South Dock Bridge, between August and October 2020. The purpose of this new consultation, led by Knight Architects in close collaboration with LBTH, was to present the new design of the bridge and how it responded to the feedback from the previous consultation, before submitting a planning application. The consultation, to guarantee everyone interested would have the opportunity to provide their feedback during the Covid-19 pandemic, combined online events, public exhibitions and a specifically created website. The new design painstakingly builds on the feedback received in the Stage 2 consultation, which sought for a bridge that was elegant, unobtrusive, contemporary, with a neutral finish, and that somehow responded to the industrial heritage of the area. The proposed bridge has been excellently received and supported by a clear majority of the respondents who praised the bridge design and felt their earlier feedback had been addressed and responded to. The bridge has been designed as a sculpted two-span variable-depth steel beam with a single central pier in the dock. Each of these spans is approximately 35m long. The bridge provides a permanent 15m-wide and 3m-high navigable channel for smaller boats to pass underneath and, thanks to a movable (bascule) north span, a 25m wide channel without height restriction for taller ships. The deck width varies from 7.8m at the south end to 15.4m at the north one. A triangular void in the movable span directs people away from an existing emergency staircase serving the buildings located on axis at the north end of the crossing. The north abutment hosts the drive mechanism and a concealed counterweight that balances the structure to minimise the energy needed to open the bridge. The design is slender, understated, and visually compact. The void created on the main span deck not only guides users and provides an enjoyable crossing experience, but makes the structure more transparent, distinctive and memorable, allowing views through the deck when the bridge is raised. Paying tribute to the history of Canary Wharf, the bridge’s sculptural geometry echoes the curved base of the historic cranes that were once sited along the quays when the site was a commercial port. The main aspirations for the new bridge are for it to improve inclusive transport to support sustainable growth in the Isle of Dogs, contribute to local placemaking and provide a striking, elegant landmark in the area. The planning application has been submitted, and a decision is expected this month. The bridge is expected to start on site in 2022 and open in 2023.

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