Construction National

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Mon23102017

Last updateFri, 20 Oct 2017 3pm

New homes get the hurry-up, but retrofitting what you’ve got cuts crime

Housebuilding is still the big issue in construction, with Cleggie’s campaign to “get Britain building” attracting some distinctly un-LibDem allies. Boris himself has joined the fray by threatening developers who engage in so-called ‘land-banking’ with compulsory purchase.

The London Evening Standard quoted him as telling the London Assembly that the practice of sitting on land waiting for prices to rise was “pernicious”.

“To constrict supply to push up prices by land-banking is plainly against the economic interests of this city,” said the Mayor, although he conceded that not all stalled development was because of land-banking.

Read more: New homes get the hurry-up, but retrofitting what you’ve got cuts crime

Less fuss and less new build as the Scots get on with their Games

Construction National blog logoMy last blog on this site suggested an answer to a question which it didn't explicitly provide, although anyone carrying out a little research (and I mean a little) would have been able to infer the reason the Scottish Affairs Committee is investigating the so-called blacklist held by the defunct Consulting Association. It is because the citizens of that proud nation don't want the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to be tainted with the whiff of any similar scandal.

OK, the Commonwealth Games aren't on the same scale or have the same impact as the Olympics, but anyone who was in Manchester in 2002 knows the feeling of optimism and pride the event can generate.

Read more: Less fuss and less new build as the Scots get on with their Games

More houses for fewer students, but little progress on the clean-up for refusenik Cumbrians

Construction National blog logoIt looks as though the glimmer of hope for the coming year was just the blurred view through rose-tinted spectacles of a New Year hangover. Latest reports from industry analyst Glenigan show a decline in activity in almost all sectors in almost all regions. In particular the infrastructure sector and the London region show the worst downturns – both of which can be attributed at least in part to the spike of London 2012.

There was one sector that proved a turn-up for the book. According to the report: “Surprisingly, it was the social housing sector that bucked the trend going into the New Year. The sector was boosted by a number of student accommodation projects that began in January; however starts were still up only 1% compared to last January.”

Read more: More houses for fewer students, but little progress on the clean-up for refusenik Cumbrians

Why the Government has left the investigation of blacklists to the Scots.

Construction National blog logoWhile the Leveson inquiry into press standards has received mass publicity from all quarters and demands from some 'celebrities' to subject journalist to everything bar trial by ordeal, a more insidious and damaging scandal in the construction industry is attracting only a few passing mentions in specialist press and the tabloids likely to be found gracing the brew tables in site cabins (that's not being snobbish about site cabins: I have a theory that the size of your newspaper reflects the amount of free time you have to read it, as well as the space to open it!).

I am referring, of course, to the affair of the blacklist of names held by the now-defunct Consulting Association prior to its seizure in 2009 by the Office of the Information Commissioner. A number of leading contractors have admitted using the services of the organisation, including for contracts on the Olympic sites, although they deny using it to blacklist workers.

Read more: Why the Government has left the investigation of blacklists to the Scots.

Precision engineering in a box, from highly-trained personnel

Construction National blog logoBack in July I was waxing lyrical about a TV documentary on the new station at Canary Wharf, part of the massive Crossrail project. Crossrail issued an update on progress at the station this week. Fascinatingly, it has completed the 7.6m diameter 'tunnel eyes' – one at each end of the station box. These are target points for two huge tunnelling machines that will, everyone is confidently predicting, emerge into the station to connect it to the Crossrail network.

The tunnel box itself is an engineering masterpiece, having been built 'top-down' into the river basin and delivered five months ahead of schedule. The project to construct the rail link across London is nearly as impressive as the original Underground project in the 19th century.

Read more: Precision engineering in a box, from highly-trained personnel