Construction National

Magazine, Online Directory and Web Design Service

Mon23102017

Last updateFri, 20 Oct 2017 3pm

How much open space do you need in a public building? Enough, it seems, to save a concrete plant

Construction National blog logoI commented at some length recently (5 July) about the announcement of the Priority Schools Building Programme, the £2bn scheme to keep at least some schools functioning which replaced the Building Schools for the Future programme aimed at replacing all secondary schools.

The most recent news about the scheme, to be found elsewhere on the Construction National site, is that the original cost of the scheme, which was to be £2.4bn of which £2bn would be via a Private Finance Initiative, is to be reduced by nearly £700m.

The savings, from the PFI part of the programme, will be made by applying a new design standard resulting in a review of the cost per square metre. According to the Education Funding Agency, that would not result in "smaller classrooms becoming more acceptable".

Read more: How much open space do you need in a public building? Enough, it seems, to save a concrete plant

London’s triumph begets Rio contracts; but does Whitehall know what it’s doing on procurement?

Construction National blog logoMuch emphasis in the construction news of the past week or so has been on building procurement in the public sector. First, on 10 September the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in Public Building – a snappy title, you must agree – published its report calling for a "procurement revolution" to deliver better value for money in public sector construction projects.

It cited the Olympic Delivery Authority for London 2012 as a shining example of how it's done. This week the PM revealed during a visit to Brazil (one of the downsides of hosting the next Games) that many of the people and companies involved in delivering that infrastructure project have been engaged by the Rio organisers to perform the same task next time around.

Read more: London’s triumph begets Rio contracts; but does Whitehall know what it’s doing on procurement?

Let's hear it for wood, and pointy things

Construction National blog logoIn September visitors to Timber Expo in Coventry will be able to preview the shortlisted projects for the Wood Awards 2012. This year the competition – celebrating its 10th year – has seen an unprecedented number of entries – so much so that the categories for furniture and architecture had to have the deadline for entries extended to June. In the past Construction National has had its front cover adorned with winning entries of marvellous beauty and fantastic design.

Also new this year the categories have been revamped: a new main category of Small Project has been introduced to separate it from the Private category, and the Conservation/Restoration category has become Repair and Adaptive Re-use, to allow for projects that have undergone "ingenious restoration" while being adapted for other purposes.

Read more: Let's hear it for wood, and pointy things

Bigging up extensions and putting down councils, and what has happened to Mr Prisk?

Construction National blog logoSo David Cameron and Nick Clegg are going to get Britain building again. Cameron said his Government is serious about rolling its sleeves up and doing all it can to kick-start the economy. So they came together to announce...the relaxation of planning rules on extensions! That is great news for people who build extensions, of course – provided that their prospective customers, freed from the jack-booted oppression of petty minded officialdom in town halls across the country, can actually afford to build them.

To be fair, there are some things that will boost housebuilding. The extension of the FirstBuy scheme is to be welcomed, even if it only applies to new builds. There are elements, however, that seem to display a desire to hand public money to private developers: the mooted Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill, for instance, that will guarantee "the debt of housing associations and private-sector developers" (my emphasis).

Read more: Bigging up extensions and putting down councils, and what has happened to Mr Prisk?

Chasing the poor out of ‘nice’ areas – even when they belong there

Construction National blog logoAt the end of last month the NHBC released figures for new home registrations for the second quarter of the year. It makes grim reading. The figures show a decline of 24% in registrations compared to the same quarter last year. Private-sector registrations fell by 10%, driven by a decline for June compared to June last year, although April and May saw slight rises.

The real hammer blow came from public-sector registrations which fell by a massive 42% compared to last year. That was in the face of a soaring in demand to fill the ever-widening gap between housing supply and demand.

Richard Tamayo, the NHBC's commercial director, commented: "As the year progresses we must hope to see a rebound in social housing numbers as providers adapt to new methods of funding."

Read more: Chasing the poor out of ‘nice’ areas – even when they belong there