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More jobs in Keynsham due to a £36m Willmott Dixon scheme

Builder Willmot Dixon has finally got the green light to start of the regeneration of Keynsham town centre, near Bristol.

Bath and North East Somerset Council was forced to postpone the August start of the project earlier this year after criticism from some local people, and the town’s civic society about the designs .

Now after several design variations to the roofs and cladding, the council planning committee has approved the scheme.

The project involves the £36m redevelopment of the existing council offices site in Keynsham with new shops, a library and new council offices.

The buildings have already been stripped for demolition and the scheme, while the planning wrangle was being sorted out.

Original design

Revised plans

The project will allow the council to reduce the amount of office space it uses from 12 building to four and become more financially efficient.

Reduced running costs will deliver 10% annual savings that will benefit the local taxpayer public purse. The Council carbon footprint specifically in its buildings will reduce by up to 70%.


£52.5m funding package means more trade jobs in Northampton


Listen to Philip Sugarman, our CEO, being interviewed on BBC Radio Northampton.

Click here to download and listen the interview

The award-winning St Andrew’s Healthcare, which is the UK’s largest mental health charity, has confirmed it now has the funding package in place to enable a further major investment in brand new facilities at its Northampton base.

St Andrew’s, the largest charity sector provider of NHS care, has agreed a £52.5m funding package with Lloyds TSB, to include funding the construction of a new 90-bed psychiatric hospital. The new facility will provide secure accommodation for a number of new services and will allow expansion of its existing national services.

Professor Philip Sugarman Chief Executive Officer at St Andrew’s said “In the last ten years we have completed a £200m programme of development and refurbishment across four sites, with our new units achieving high levels of occupancy. We have seen continuous growth and a recent sharp rise in market share.”

“We are now ready to plan the next phase of growth, with new facilities for service users placed with us by our NHS customers. These developments will strengthen our position as the UK’s leading provider of specialist secure care and as the country’s only independent national teaching hospital.”

Chief Finance Officer Nigel Alcock says: “Despite challenging financial forecasts for independent mental healthcare providers, St Andrew’s saw turnover increase by over 5% last year, to £169m.  As a charity it is essential that any financial agreements we enter into are right for our long-term commitment to care for as many people as possible.  We are in a very different position to some private companies, and that’s why we believe that the charitable model offers huge potential for the sector.

“This funding agreement will help St Andrew’s maintain the great results we have achieved by reinvesting in the future of mental healthcare over the last few years.  We are delighted to have finalised the deal with Lloyds, who have been fantastic to work with.”

David Hykin, Relationship Director at Lloyds Bank Wholesale Banking & Markets said: “St Andrew’s Healthcare has delivered a strong track record of growth in recent years, demonstrating the strength of its balance sheet and its future potential. We are working closely with the management team to support the growth ambitions of the charity, which is a well-established and impressive enterprise in the healthcare sector.”

More construction jobs in Bath

The University of Bath has awarded a £16m contract to VINCI Construction UK for the design and construction of a new, five-storey teaching building.

The General Teaching Accommodation (GTA) will include a range of high quality learning facilities, including group lecture rooms, two 350-space lectures theatres, and social spaces.

Glass walls spanning three storeys will provide high levels of natural light into a five-storey high circulation space. A ‘skywalk’ bridge will also connect the building with the main campus parade.

Once completed, the 8,000m2 building will double the number of large scale lecture theatres on campus, allowing up to 2,000 students to use the building at any one time.

The contract is part of the University Masterplan which provides a framework for the development of the campus until 2026.

Martyn Whalley, University of Bath’s Director of Estates, said: “The Masterplan sets out how we plan to provide state of the art facilities and with the new GTA we will have a wonderful resource to match the high quality of our teaching and learning.”

Steve Vorres, Regional Director, VINCI Construction UK, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed by the University of Bath to deliver the new GTA building which forms part of the University’s three year major capital works investment programme. This scheme will provide an exemplar teaching facility for the University’s staff and growing student population and we are extremely proud to be part of its construction and legacy. The GTA project award continues the region’s recent successes of working with University clients. These relationships form an essential part of our key account strategy and stand us in good stead for our future pipeline”.

Completion is due in September 2013 with an opening date set for the following October. The project aims to further enhance the reputation of the university, which already boasts a top ten ranking in The Guardian’s 2013 university guide.

Great News for the Trades as Regeneration Scheme in Manchester Gets the Green Light

The Government has given the green light to a massive regeneration scheme that will build new homes and carry out extensive refurbishments to more than 650 council houses in Brunswick,  an area of the inner city of Manchester.  

The 25-year regeneration project will see significant investment to the area, paving the way for new jobs in the building construction sector and trade professionals.

The Homes and Community Agency (HCA), which approved the regeneration plan, said it will include building an improved neighbourhood design with new road layouts and safe open space. The project will also build a new retail area including new shops and amenities coupled with a 60-bed accommodation facility.

Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, Cllr Jim Battle, welcomed the announcement for Brunswick saying that residents have long waited for such good news that will transform their area and deliver new homes.

Mr Battle said: “We have a fantastic community here that will no doubt continue to prosper as the regeneration plans come to fruition. Being so close to the city centre, coupled with the promise of new homes and an improved neighbourhood layout, I can see a bright future for Brunswick.”

The Government’s approval for the project means the Council can now consider a variety of bidders who will be responsible for delivering the regeneration plan. The Council said it will evaluate final bids from both Fern and Solutions 4 Brunswick, before selecting the preferred bidder later this year.


What’s your reaction to the approval of the long awaited regeneration plans in Brunswick? How the Government’s decision to refurbish and build new homes will benefit you/ your business?

The ONS, new orders in infrastructure rocketed by 60 per cent in the first quarter of 2012 .

Today the Office of National Statistics has released a new report showing the growth of new construction orders in the UK, in the first quarter of 2012, there saw a 4.6% increase from the fourth quarter of 2011. The ONS also reported today that new orders in infrastructure rocketed by 60 per cent in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period last year.

According to Nick Hayward, managing director of ATL (Apprenticeships Training Limited – the fulfillment centres for T4TS) one of the UK’s leading providers of building services training, with more than 5,000 students a year passing through its centres, it’s very positive news, demonstrating the opportunities for the school leavers and adults looking for a new career path in construction: “There has never been a greater time to join the industry. We know there is a growing shortage for dedicated skilled tradesmen as more and more workers reach retirement age. Couple this with the news of growth in both private industrial and private commercial work and it just goes to show the industry is still thriving.

“This new statistical evidence information from the ONS clearly highlights the growing opportunities in the construction sector, contradicting the Markit/CIPS Construction Purchasing Managers_ Index issued earlier this week, which indicated that British construction hit a three-month low last month. Our experience working with hundreds of apprentices only serves to support the ONS findings further, with ATL students who have entered the sector from school and those moving to construction as a career change demonstrating the popularity of this sector and the real job opportunities that are available. The construction sector will only continue to grow as new buildings and infrastructure increase in demand as the UK pulls out of recession.”

Train4TradeSkills News Thank you Diageo for 1,000 Construction Jobs

Diageo sets out £1billion Scotch whisky investment plan

Diageo, the world’s leading premium drinks business, has unveiled plans to invest over £1billion in Scotch whisky production over the next five years to meet growing global demand for its brands.
A major new malt distillery will be built as part of the investment, alongside a programme of major expansion at a number of Diageo’s existing distilleries. Detailed plans will also be developed for a second new distillery which will be built if global demand for Scotch is sustained at expected levels.

The company also plans to invest in substantial new warehousing capacity to house the millions of additional litres of Scotch whisky which the distillation investment will produce.
Announcing the investment Diageo Chief Executive, Paul Walsh said: “This is a pivotal moment in the development of the Scotch whisky category for Diageo. Over recent years our brands have achieved remarkable, sustained global growth. Scotch whisky is Scotland’s most celebrated manufactured export, led by brands like Johnnie Walker, resonating with consumers from Boston to Beijing.
“We expect that success to continue, particularly in the high growth markets around the world, which is why we are announcing this major investment in Scotch whisky production, committing over £1billion in the next five years, to seize that opportunity for global growth. This builds on the foundations we have already laid down over recent years through sustained investment in both production assets and in maturing Scotch inventories.

“Scotch whisky is a significant manufacturing export industry in the United Kingdom, driving domestic investment and job creation through our success in exporting to high growth markets around the world. We look forward to working with both the UK and Scottish Governments to realise the full potential of our investment plan, and to continue growing global Scotch exports.”
Across Scotland the investment will create over a hundred new Diageo jobs, largely high value jobs in rural areas of Scotland. It is also expected the investment will create an average of 250 construction jobs for each year of the investment period and in wider Scottish economy there will be a knock on effect which will generate around 500i further jobs. Diageo also intends to make its contribution to efforts to tackle youth unemployment by taking on around one hundred apprentices and graduate trainees over the term of the investment, and the company will also encourage its suppliers and construction contractors to focus on youth job creation and apprenticeships.
The investment programme will be underpinned by Diageo’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact, with a programme of bio energy solutions planned to be implemented over the same timescale as the distillery expansion projects.

Mr Walsh added: “I’m particularly pleased our investment will generate significant numbers of new Diageo jobs, as well as boosting the local construction sector and stimulating job creation throughout the Scottish economy. We are determined to use this investment to make a contribution towards helping people into training and work through our apprentice and graduate placement scheme and by using the opportunity to encourage suppliers to take on apprentices to work on the investment projects.”

In the last five years Diageo has reported 50% growth in net sales of its Scotch brandsii with total net sales approaching £3billion this financial year. Scotch represented 23% of Diageo’s volume, 27% of net sales and a third of gross profit in the financial year 2011iii. In the first half of financial year 2012, Diageo’s Scotch category saw 8% volume growth and 14% net sales growthiv.

Over the five year period Diageo plans to invest over £500 million in the construction of the distillation and warehousing capacity. This increased production capacity also requires Diageo to commit £500million in working capital for the maturing spirit which will be laid down over the next five years. The exact total investment figures may vary over time depending on the progress of specific projects, but the overall commitment is expected to total over £1billion over the five years.

Supporting this investment, Diageo also plans to commit £5 million over five years towards community initiatives as part of its sustainability and responsibility programme in Scotland. Priority areas for the community investment programme will be: leadership in the environment; responsible drinking – improving the night economy and safety at local level; and socio-economic development, including youth employment and entrepreneurship. This will involve an integrated approach across Diageo’s production, commercial and brands heritage businesses, including The Gleneagles Hotel, host to the Ryder Cup 2014. Full details of this programme will be announced in due course.


Train4TradeSkills News: Which weather forecast to believe?

Today many media outlets have chosen to cast doubts about the construction industry due to a report by Markit/CIPS. You can judge for yourself what the report actually says by clicking on the link below. However, to save you the trouble, here are some key quotes from the report:

 “Construction firms indicated that commercial output remained the fastest growing broad area of activity in May. The slowest expansion was seen in residential”.

 “Companies that saw an increase in new business inflows mostly commented on competitive pricing strategies at their units.”

“However, construction firms added to their payrolls numbers for the third month running, driven by ongoing growth in business activity during May.”

 “Input buying continued to rise during the latest survey period but, in line with the trend for new work,”

Tim Moore, Senior Economist at Markit said:“On a more positive note, the fall in inflation is allowing construction companies to price more competitively to win new contracts, but could be a double-edged sword as suppliers continue to see their margins squeezed.”

It makes one wonder what it takes to generate a positive headline in 2012?

Tell us your views here or on FaceBook

Guest contributor Rick Dawson.


Masterplan for 5000 New Homes Will Boost the Building Construction Industry

The London Borough of Enfield has launched a consultation on the Masterplan for Meridian Water that could see 5,000 new homes build and create 3,000 new jobs.

The new development, which has the potential to become one of the largest eco-developments in Britain, has been designed to create new opportunities for canal and riverside homes in North London.

The £1.3 billion development will pave the way for building construction work, creating new jobs for trade professionals in the building construction industry.

Enfield Council has launched a public consultation on the 82 hectares site in Edmonton, currently occupied by a former industrial building, Construction News Reported today.

The council is looking for public input about the project and the consultation will run until the beginning of August 2012, seeking the opinions of investors, stakeholders, residents and local businesses. The Council said it was planning to work closely with potential developers in order to share the future vision of the area.

The current proposals aim to set ambitious targets for sustainability, including plans for a comprehensive district heating network. Meridian Water will also deliver improvements to public transport including improved rail services on the line connecting the area to Liverpool Street and Stratford.

The Local Authority member for Business and Regeneration, Councillor Del Goddard said:  “Meridian Water is the most significant contribution to the transformation of Edmonton and it will play a significant role in driving the expansion of north London for decades to come.”

Under the masterplan written by the London Development Agency (LDA) the projects will be a significant boost for the local economy and diverse sectors of employment.

The LDA Design’s director of urban design Colin James said: “This masterplan is the first step towards bringing forward Enfield council’s vision for creating new high quality, energy efficient housing and breathing new life into employment areas. ”

What is your view of the Meridian Water Masterplan that could build 5,000 new homes and create 3,000 new jobs? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment here or on our Facebook page: 

London Greater Authority Invites Firms to Bid for Building Construction Work

In a drive to boost the housing market and accelerate the building of new properties in the capital, the Greater London Authority (GLA) is seeking developers to join a new £5 billion procurement panel which will open more work for external contractors and building developers, Construction News reported today.

From 2013 the new housing procurement panel will replace the current Homes and Communities’ Agency, the London Delivery Partner (LDP). It is going to be managed directly by the GLA, speeding up the process for building private and social houses as well as improving the development of properties in the public sector.

The new panel will recruit up to 28 building firms that employ thousands of workers in the building construction engineering sector. This could provide more employment opportunities for trade professionals.

A bidding process is currently open to any firms that are capable of delivering housing developments, raising sufficient finance and improving community facilities. Interested developers need to apply before 4th May 2012 and successful bidders will be awarded by 1st April 2013.

The scheme is expected to increase competition between contractors and improve current housing standards as well as optimise the process of marketing and selling new homes in the capital.

What’s your reaction to the £5 billion fund which will give the Greater London Authority more control over future housing developments in the capital? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below: 


Construction Sector Hires More Workers

There has been a significant increase in the number of vacancies advertised in the building construction industry, despite the negative forecast on UK unemployment figures to reach almost 3 million by the end of this year.  

Recruitment consultants have reported an increase in construction vacancies for the first month of this year. One of the UK’s largest construction engineering recruiter has reported a rise of more than 50% in the number of advertised construction vacancies on their website,

Data published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has shown that engineering and construction workers were the most sought after employees in the UK. In contrast, the demand for hotel and catering staff has significantly declined according to the last survey from this year.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has published a report suggesting unemployment will continue to rise. However, the building construction industry is expected to continue to hiring more workers due to recent infrastructure projects and significant government investment.

The government has invested £5 billion towards infrastructure projects announced in the Autumn Statement in November, by Chancellor George Osborne. This has proven a positive incentive for the industry in regards to the progressive requirement as a result of business confidence and growth in the construction sector.

Do you think the increase of construction vacancies will continue and why? Share your thoughts on the future performance of the construction industry by commenting on Train4TradeSkills’ Facebook and Twitter pages:


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