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£91m cash boost to get 6,000 empty homes back into use

£91m cash to get 6,000 empty back into useCommunities Minister Don Foster has announced that towns across England will benefit from £91 million to refurbish and bring back into use over 6,000 empty homes and derelict homes.

The Minister said that regions in the Midlands and North, where the problem is most acute, would especially benefit from the investment that will create new jobs and boost the building industry.

Speaking today whist visiting an empty homes refurbishment project in Stoke on Trent, Mr Foster said: “The government is doing everything possible to tackle the problem of empty homes and urban blight.

“Today I’m announcing we’re going to do even more, with towns across England benefiting from £91 million to refurbish over 6,000 empty properties to get them back into use.

“This will bring people, shops and jobs back to once abandoned areas, and provide extra affordable homes we so badly need.”

The funding will be spent on refurbishment in areas where empty properties have commonly led to problems such as squatting, rat infestation and collapsing house prices, driving remaining residents away.

The funding is being allocated under two programmes:

  • £61 million from the second round of the empty homes funding programme, provided to successful bidders eligible from all areas across England (except London, which will be announced separately) with empty homes. Around two thirds of this (£41 million) is allocated by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to registered social landlords; and the remaining money to community and voluntary groups. Together the 187 successful organisations will bring around 3,200 extra homes back into use.
  • £30 million second year award of Clusters of Empty Homes programme funding for twenty partnerships in areas of acute problems such as Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Middlesbrough which will bring around 3,500 homes back into use.

Andy Rose, HCA chief executive, said: “We had a very encouraging response to the funding across a wide range of types of property.

“This demonstrates a strong appetite and scope for bringing empty homes and properties back into use, which will help to reinvigorate our communities and towns. We look forward to working with housing providers to bring these homes forward.”

What is your reaction to the £90 million cash boost that will create new jobs and boost the construction industry? Share your thoughts by commenting here or raise your voice on our Facebook and Twitter pages.


New partnership to boost homebuilding in Manchester

 A plan to boost housebuilding in Manchester and make new homes more affordable has been agreed this week which will generate new employment opportunities in the trades.

Manchester City Council has signed an agreement with the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to bring together a completely new way of funding homebuilding in the city.

The scheme is set to build more than 240 new affordable homes and create thousands of jobs in the construction industry.

Land for the development will be provided by the city council, including one site offered by the HCA, while the Greater Manchester Pension Fund will finance the building of the homes.

The partnership will choose a contractor to build the homes whilst the city council supports the buyer, by taking an equity share in the property, making the new homes more affordable and mortgage costs lower.

Cllr Jim Battle, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester’s growing population and forecasted economic growth will mean we will continue to need more homes in the near future.

“The economic climate has severely slowed home building in recent years and levels of development are not keeping up with the city’s demand.

“This new innovative model tackles these issues, pushing forward development opportunities while ensuring a supply of new attractive homes are available to residents at affordable prices.”

Deborah McLaughlin, North West Executive Director at the HCA, said: “At the HCA our focus is to employ new and innovative ways of working to use public land assets to more quickly deliver homes and economic growth. This new concept marks a major milestone for house building in Manchester and has the potential to attract major investment to the city.”

Liverpool accommodation scheme reaches out for new jobs

Two student accommodation schemes at the University of Liverpool have been submitted for planning approval, paving the way for developers to start building work.

The £50 million project, part of an overall £600 million campus investment announced last year, will build 621 en-suite rooms and create new jobs in the trades.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said that this regeneration will not only improve the facilities at the University of Liverpool, but will also provide economic boost to the city and bring new employment opportunities for local people.

Mr Anderson said: “This development will increase the appeal of the University of Liverpool to potential students right across the country and the world, contributing to Liverpool’s growing status as a distinctive global city.

“It will also provide a much needed boost to the city in terms of jobs and training opportunities for local people.”

Preston based developer Worthington Properties, which was selected as a building contractor for the two sites in Liverpool city centre, is planning to demolish five accommodation blocks in Philharmonic Court and construct two six-storey buildings which will contain 354 student rooms.

The second proposed development in Great Newton Street will see Worthington build on a former car park and disused university property. The building will be between four and seven storeys and is expected to have 267 student rooms. Architect on the scheme is Manchester-based Leach Rhodes Walker.

Development director at Worthington Properties, Russell Worthington, said: “We are proud to work in partnership with Liverpool University and Liverpool City Council to design a product that will help the university attract national and international students to the city.

“In addition, the investment by Liverpool University will help to create employment as we will be looking to work with suppliers and recruit from the area.”

What is your reaction to the student accommodation scheme at the University of Liverpool which will boost the local economy and create new jobs? Share your thoughts by commenting here or raising your voice on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

UK cities get Green Deal funding boost

Today, seven cities across England are set to receive a share of the £12 million fund which will kick-start the Green Deal and boost the trades.

Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield are the cities which have put proposals to lower their carbon emissions.

The Green Deal is a Government-backed scheme which offers loans to people to help make their homes more energy efficient.

The money will enable professional builders and trade firms to try certain elements of the scheme including assessment and installation of energy efficient measures.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “These cities have really ambitious plans to lower their emissions, reduce energy use and help people save money on their bills.

“This funding will help them get up and running and I look forward to seeing a number of properties across whole communities get the energy efficient improvements they need.”

Earlier in the year, the Government announced that cities would be given greater freedoms, powers and tools to help them go for growth.

The new funding will test elements of the Green Deal framework and provide early feedback for the scheme’s future implementation.

It is expected to deliver around 2,500 retrofits to households and non-domestic properties across the seven major cities, providing support to local supply chains and registered installers.

Building Man City’s New Training Academy to Create Trade Jobs

Building work on Manchester City’s new £100 million training academy has been given the green light by the government, paving the way for new jobs in the building construction industry.

After clearing objections by previous landlords who refused to sell their plots to the football club, now the Secretary of State has granted a compulsory purchase order, allowing building work to start.

The scheme, which involves building a 7, 000 seat-stadium and 15 small pitches will create new jobs and help the local economy.

Eddie Smith, Chief Executive of urban regeneration company New East Manchester, told the BBC that this development will benefit the people in Manchester and create new jobs

Mr Smith said “Manchester City Football Club’s plans in east Manchester are a hugely important ingredient of the ongoing regeneration of the area, which will see not only world-class leisure and educational facilities for the community, but also jobs for local people.

“We worked with the club to help relocate existing business and sustain existing jobs and are pleased that the Secretary of State has reached a decision in the public interest which will enable this ambitious scheme to move forwards.”

BAM Construction has won the main contract after holding off competition with other firms.

Plans at the site on land next to the Etihad stadium include:

  • A home for up to 400 young players who will train and study alongside senior players, with a clear development pathway to the first team
  • One half size and 11 full size youth development pitches
  • One half size and 4 full size first team pitches
  • On site sleeping accommodation and classroom facility for 40 young players to allow them to train and study in a safe and secure environment
  • A carefully planned first team building with changing rooms, gym, refectory and injury and rehab centre
  • A 7,000 capacity stadium for youth matches
  • Staff offices and a dedicated media centre
  • A bridge linking the site to the Etihad Stadium and the rest of the Etihad Campus

What is your reaction to the green light given to the Manchester City’ training academy? Share your thoughts by commenting here or raising your voice on our Facebookand Twitterpage.

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?

High-Speed Rail Line is Given Green Light

The government has backed up £32 billion plan today for high-speed railway which will create hundreds of thousands long term jobs in the building engineering sector, help the economy and cut the journey time from London to Birmingham to 49 minutes.

As reported this week, top business leaders and economists pushed the government to give green light to the high-speed rail (HS2) between London and Birmingham.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening backed up the first phase of HS2 in the Commons today, a 100-mile link, which will be built for 10 years and high-speed trains will start running by 2026.

“High Speed 2 is a scheme to deliver hugely enhanced rail capacity and connectivity between Britain’s major conurbations,” the Transport Secretary said.

“It is the largest transport infrastructure investment in the UK for a generation, and, with the exception of High Speed 1, is the first major new railway line since the Victorian era.”-Mrs Greening added.

The government has also argued that the project will generate £44bn of benefits to the economy over 60 years. The line is considered to be extended further north to Scotland in future decades.

Cities in the north of England such as Manchester and Leeds would also see reduced journey times and will be equally accessible when the whole project is finalised in 2032.

In a statement today, The Department for Transport said: “HS2 is not just about getting between London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester more quickly, but bringing faster services and many more seats to towns and cities well beyond the HS2 network.

“It would work just like a motorway. No one uses a motorway to get all the way from their front door to their final destination, but they use it because it offers high capacity and faster services – precisely what HS2 will offer rail passengers.”


Are you for or against the new high-speed rail line and what difference do you think it would make to you and your business? Share your thoughts by commenting here:  


Train4TradeSkills News: New initiative to offer young people chance to help rebuild London after UK Riots

After four days of riots shocked the UK and cost millions of pounds worth of damage, the focus is now on rebuilding areas devastated by rioting and looting in areas across London, Manchester and Birmingham.

The #RiotRebuild campaign aims to do just that, and match people from the construction industry who are willing to help, with riot victims whose homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed by the riots.

The contractors will volunteer their services and can do their bit and help people who have been badly affected by the riots. Riot Rebuild co-organiser Nick Varey said:

“We have a list of professionals and tradespeople willing to provide their expertise and give real help free of charge.”

“This could be anything from getting a handyman to repair a bench outside a shop to giving advice on planning issues.”

The UK Riots caused an estimated £200 million worth of damage, as thousands of people as unlawlessness and fear swept across the UK. Thousands of people, some as young as 9 years old, have been arrested and charged and the Prime Minister David Cameron has hit out at what he calls a “broken Britain” and a young generation with no morality and obligation to society.

But a new initiative may help to change that. The contractor Lakehouse has devised a scheme to offer opportunities for deprived local youth across riot-hit areas to rebuild areas like Hackney, Tottenham and Camden in London.

The firm have stated that they will offer work experience placements and apprenticeships to young people in the worst affected areas that were damaged in the London Riots.

Lakehouse is offering placements in Hackney, Woolwich and Camden and has already announced 20 work experience placements and 50 apprenticeships for young people in Hackney.

Lakehouse Chief Executive Steve Rawlings said in a statement:: “The construction industry can use its expertise to help reconstruct these communities; but it also has a responsibility to help alleviate the issues of deprivation and unemployment that contribute to the problem.”

If this scheme can prove to be successful and other firms join in and offer placements, it has the potential to be good for young people in London. The rioters were complaining about nothing to do and the complete lack of job opportunities, so hopefully schemes like this can go towards helping with that.

What do you think of the Riot Rebuild and other campaigns? Let us know what you think by commenting below…


What effect will the UK Riots have on the construction industry?

This week has seen chaos come to the streets of London and several UK cities as rioters and looters run amok and send large parts of the UK into lawlessness.

Thousands of youths have burned, looted and vandalised their way through London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Wolverhampton and Nottingham – projecting a negative image of the UK to billions of people around the world.

The cost of these riots are bound to spiral into millions of pounds and have left many people with no homes or no business – all to cause anarchy on the streets of the UK and to get their hands on a new pair of trainers, TV or mobile phone.

The government yesterday announced they will help riot victims rebuild their homes and businesses, with Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and the Mayor of London getting involved.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has launched a £50m fund to make major improvements to the capital’s town centres and high streets damaged by the recent riots across the capital.

This fund will go towards rebuilding businesses damaged and destroyed by the riots and the work will be completed by local contractors.

Mr Johnson said: “We have always recognised the importance of improving London’s town centres and clearly after the destruction caused by the recent events across the city this is a bigger challenge than ever.

“That is why I am allocating £50 million to ensure that these areas are regenerated quickly and transformed into safe, attractive, vibrant and economically successful places to live, work and invest in.

Eric Pickles also announced that £30 million of government money will go to help those in need. £20 million of this will be in the form of a high street support scheme, with the remaining £10 million to be used as a recovery fund to help clean up the streets and damaged buildings.

As the Riots seem to have died down as the police step in and arrest those responsible, what affect have the riots had on the construction industry?

It could be said to have an indirect effect, particularly as foreign companies or overseas developers may be reluctant to invest in London or other UK cities and may choose to take their construction projects elsewhere, in the fear of being vandalised by out-of-control youths.

The other factor to consider is the security of building sites. There were stories of youths stealing tools from construction sites in Liverpool to use as offensive weapons. Paul Martin, contract manager for Linbrook, said in a statement earlier this week:

“It’s unprecedented the way this has spread. We’re doing what needs to be done by four o’clock and taking plant and materials off-site so they aren’t endangered.”

Construction economist Brian Green made a good point this week, saying whether the construction industry should beef up security in case any similar event happens again. He said: “The bigger question is whether contractors have to change their security practice if this type of behaviour becomes widespread in the long term.”

Hopefully these riots are a one-time thing, and the policing will be improved to allow them the proper number of officers so they can stamp out the trouble and stop the needless violence and looting quickly.

What are your thoughts about the issue of the UK riots in London, Manchester and Birmingham etc.? Do you think the construction industry will pay the price of thousands of out-of-control youths? Let us know what you think by commenting below…

Manchester to follow in London’s footsteps with new construction boom

Train4TradeSkills Blog Co-op NOMA ManchesterManchester is set to experience a rise in new offices in the city, as developers are set to launch a flurry of new schemes.

Following on from the construction work of the new Co-op Headquarters in Manchester, commercial office projects are set to rise considerably over the next few years, which can only be good news for contractors looking for jobs in Manchester.

Construction Enquirer report these projects include a new 350,000 sq ft office tower in the city’s Spinningfield’s district and a new office at One St Peter’s Square, with Bam Construction leading the way with the £60 million plans.

Other new schemes in the city include insurance group AXA’s plans to demolish the Peterloo House office block and replace it with brand new 12-storey offices, which will cost around £50 million.

These investments in new office schemes in Manchester mark a trend in the city, according to DTZ Investment Director Mike Mitchell, who says investors are starting to focus away from prime markets in the City of London and the West End, with their high rents and costs.

This flurry of new offices in Manchester is good news for the construction industry and contractors who live in or around the city. Manchester follows in London example, as £21 billion worth of new construction projects are set to go ahead or are in the pipeline in the capital before 2020.