Plan for major Leeds high-rise student and events scheme

Developer Downing will submit ambitious plans in the autumn for a major student accommodation and events scheme in Leeds city centre, adjacent to the Leeds First Direct Arena.

It will seek detailed planning consent for purpose-built student accommodation across two separate but adjacent plots, and outline planning to develop a multi-purpose events space, which would be taken forward at a future date by Leeds City Council.

A 38-storey purpose-built student tower is planned for Merrion Way featuring 728 student bedrooms in a mix of six-bedroom and 296 studios.

High-rise building proposed for site fronting Clay Pit Lane, Merrion Way and Brunswick Terrace, with nearby events centre plan still at outline stage

Meanwhile, the existing Yorkshire Bank office building would be demolished to make way for the second phase, comprising a stepped building rising to 18 storeys, featuring 543 student bedrooms in a mix of five and six-bedroom clusters and 216 studios.

Second student accommodation building proposal for site located between Clay Pit Lane and Elmwood Close

If approved, the plans will pave the way for 1,200 flats and the creation of a 110,000 sq ft facility including an 800-900 capacity auditorium at the centre of the Leeds Arena Quarter, designed to attract additional corporate, cultural and live events.

The sustainable development will incorporate photovoltaic panels and air source heat pumps.

Each element of the plan promises to regenerate unused space in part of the city that will benefit economically from additional footfall. The proposals also have the potential to create approximately 390 jobs in the construction phase.

George Tyson, projects director at Downing, said: “It has long been recognised that Leeds is in need of an additional, flexible events space capable of hosting corporate banqueting, awards ceremonies and live entertainment. With 2,000 square metre flat floor space, this scheme has the potential to host conferences and exhibitions which can’t be facilitated at the Arena or other venues in the city centre, allowing Leeds to secure business that may otherwise be lost to other cities and regions.”

He added: “Attracting and retaining graduate talent is vital to the health of the regional economy and this relies on being able to offer attractive student accommodation. Our proposals will provide students with brand new, first-class living space in a dynamic part of the city, with fast access to university buildings and facilities.”




18 firms win £220m Yorkshire civils framework

Eighteen regional contractors have secured places on a civil engineering framework for the seven councils forming the Yorkshire Highways Alliance including North Yorkshire County Council

The works for complete or part construction and civil engineering work will predominantly take place on bridges and the highway network.

Potential works include: resurfacing, reconstruction, slurry sealing, drainage and kerbing, repairs to bridges, retaining walls and culverts.

Civil Engineering Contractors Framework 2021

Projects £2m+ in North Yorkshire, York, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds & Wakefield.

C.R. Reynolds; Eric Wright Civil Engineering; Fox (Owmby); Jackson Civil Engineering Group; PBS Construction (North East); Rainton Construction

Projects £500k – £2m in North Yorkshire, York, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds & Wakefield.

C.R. Reynolds; Colas; Dyer & Butler; Fox (Owmby); Galliford Try Construction; I & H Brown; PBS Construction (North East); Rainton Construction

Projects: up to £500k – Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds & Wakefield

A E Yates; C.R. Reynolds; Cheetham Hill Construction; Hinko Construction; JN Bentley; PBS Construction (North East); Rainton Construction; Seymour Civil Engineering Contractors; Thomas Armstrong (Construction); Thomas Bow;

Projects: up to £500k – North Yorkshire & York

A E Yates; C.R. Reynolds; Cheetham Hill Construction; Hinko Construction; Howard Civil Engineering; JN Bentley; PBS Construction (North East); Rainton Construction; Seymour Civil Engineering Contractors; Thomas Armstrong (Construction)


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Subcontractors hit out at HMRC over slow VAT repayments

Specialist contractors have hit out at HMRC over the time it takes to reclaim VAT payments following a controversial change in the tax regime earlier this year.

The “domestic reverse charge” change came into force in March and means companies in the construction supply chain will no longer receive their 20% VAT payment when they submit bills.

The VAT cash is instead paid direct to HMRC by the customer receiving the service who will reclaim it in the normal way.

That has left a lot of specialist contractors no longer receiving VAT payments from customers but still paying them to suppliers.

In that situation subcontractors become known as “repayment traders” who are owed money at the end of each quarter by HMRC.

Firms have contacted the Enquirer claiming HMRC is not paying the cash back quickly enough.

One M&E boss said: “We are currently owed more than £35,000 which is a considerable amount of cash flow for a firm like ours.

“The scheme only came in six months ago and already there are problems claiming back our VAT cash.”

Another subbie said: “It is totally unacceptable.

“The whole scheme change was a hit to our cash flow and now this is making things even worse.

“We will be running VAT deficits each quarter which puts us under unnecessary pressure.”

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Laing O’Rourke to float by 2024

Laing O’Rourke founder and chief executive Ray O’Rourke is planning to list the business on the stock exchange within the next three years.

O’Rourke revealed the timeline to take the country’s largest private contractor public in an interview with the Financial Times.

He said: “We will float the company in a few years’ time. By 2024 we will be in good shape.”

Latest results for the firm showed pre-tax profit jumped nearly 40% to £46m in the year to March 2020, despite revenue dipping 11% to £2.4bn.

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£86m contest for landmark Portsmouth Uni project

The University of Portsmouth has started the hunt for a contractor to design and build its planned Victoria Park major teaching building.

The 12-storey building project will be let on a single-stage design and build basis with the University hoping to make an award in January to start work in February 2022.

Designs by architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and MEP consultant Buro Happold have been developed to RIBA Design Stage 4. These are targeting a top BREEAM rating of ‘Outstanding’.

Photovoltaic panels cover the angled roof, producing renewable power and a high performing façade will manage heat and light.

Park Room – view into social learning landings

Once complete in 2024, the building will house the Faculty of Business & Law and part of the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Accommodation will also include a ground floor café and event space and restaurant on the top floor with roof terrace.

New academic building facilities

250-seat and 500-seat lecture theatresTwo 150-seat flat classroomsCourt room, laboratories and a video production suiteGround floor events and exhibition spaceOffices and meeting roomsRoof terrace and sky restaurant

To express an interest in bidding click here.


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GRAHAM lands £22m Camden tower recladding deal

GRAHAM has landed a £22m contract from the London Borough of Camden to reclad one of the Chalcots Estate towers.

Wates was originally lined-up for the work on the Blashford Tower but failed to agree a final price with the council.

Wates landed a £90m deal with Camden in January 2019 to reclad five towers across the estate in the wake of the Grenfell disaster.

But Wates and Camden parted company last year after failing to agree final terms.

Due to its different structure a separate two stage design and build contract has been awarded for Blashford Tower so that work can start on the building sooner than if it was part of the overall Chalcots buildings tender.

In the first stage – beginning next month – Ccuncil Officers will work with GRAHAM and technical experts to finalise the design details and test how the works will be carried out.

In the second stage of the contract – from July 2022 to December 2023 – the contractor will source materials for the works, set up the site and carry out the works, including installing an A1 rated cladding system, new windows, curtain wall and the other works needed to deliver the highest standard of safety for residents.

Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Better Homes, said: “This is a significant step forward in delivering a new standard of resident safety for the Chalcots and I am pleased that we have reached this important milestone for Blashford with the appointment of GRAHAM.

“I share the disappointment that residents have felt about delays and so I know that they too will be pleased of this appointment and to see works getting underway.”

Site worker crushed at BAM Johnnie Walker whisky site

A worker was crushed under a lift this week at BAM Construction’s Johnnie Walker Experience site in Edinburgh.

The victim is being treated in hospital for broken ribs after the accident on Tuesday at the site where BAM is building a whisky tourist attraction for drinks giant Diageo.

A Diageo spokeswoman told the BBC: “Unfortunately a subcontractor to our principal construction partner was involved in an incident on site, becoming trapped when commissioning a low-level lift.

“Thankfully, due to quick actions of co-workers on site, the person was released quickly and given prompt first aid. The person concerned is currently in hospital with broken ribs and our thoughts are with him and his well-being.

“Our principal contractor and Diageo take the health and safety management of the site extremely seriously and all the necessary investigations are being carried out. We cannot comment further at this stage.”


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BBMV hands over latest completed Crossrail station

The BBMV joint venture of Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall and VINCI Construction has completed construction of the Crossrail station at Whitechapel in east London.

The contractor has now handed over the site to London Underground with Crossrail set to open in the first half of next year.

Steve O’Sullivan, BBMV Project Director, said: “As I reflect on this incredible feat of engineering, I have never been more proud of what our incredible team have delivered. It truly is testament to the collaborative culture of our joint venture, who have persevered throughout the challenges faced by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“We now look forward to watching as the station plays a role in transforming travel across London, whilst also supporting wider regeneration in the local area through job creation and opportunities for local businesses.”

Stations that have transferred from Crossrail to TfL so far are Custom House, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Woolwich, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Whitechapel.

Canary Wharf will be the next station to transfer to TfL later this year.



Industry relief as construction products marking changes delayed

Industry leaders have welcomed confirmation that the Government has postponed planned changes to product marking rules.

As part of Brexit changes were due to come into force on 1 January 2022 that would require products that had previously had CE markings shift across to the new United Kingdom Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark.

But the industry had sounded the alarm over whether the sector was ready for the change following  uncertainty about availability and capacity of testing for products under

the new regime.

The Government has now backed-down allowing CE marked products to be sold in the UK for a further 12 months with the deadline pushed back to January 1 2023.

James Talman Chief Executive of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors said: “At a time when we are facing some of the worst material availability and inflation in living memory, this announcement will come as a welcome relief for manufacturers and merchants.

“We have been telling the government that the 1st January 2022 deadline was not feasible for some time, with many products simply unable to receive certification by the deadline.

“I am glad that the message has now got through. This extra time will provide much-needed breathing space for supplies to undertake the necessary tests and acquire the correct paperwork.

“The government should now work with industry to ensure the supply chain is fully prepared for the new 2023 deadline, particularly smaller firms, so we do not face similar problems in the future.”

Construction Leadership Council co-chair Andy Mitchell added: “Given the widespread pressures on product supply, we welcome this pragmatic decision by the Government

to extend the deadline for CE-marked products.”

“However even with this extension, it will still be very challenging to ensure that the  whole sector is ready for the new date, given the need to drive major increases in testing capacity.

“It is vital that industry continues to work with the Government to address these issues, ensuring that we don’t just postpone the crisis by 12 months, but instead establish a

robust testing and marking regime to ensure the continued safety and performance of the products that we use”.

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Durkan wins Peabody £85m flats job in south London

Housing association Peabody has appointed Durkan to begin construction of a housing scheme in Lambeth, south London.

Over the next three years, Durkan will construct 134 new homes and over 45,000 square metres of commercial space at Higgs Yard, a former industrial site at Loughborough Junction.

Designed by PRP Architects, the scheme represents an £85m investment into the area and will be 50% affordable homes.

It is the largest single development which Loughborough Junction has seen since the Loughborough Estate was built in the 1950s.

Construction on the site is due to begin this Autumn, with completion planned for early 2024.

Tom Williamson, Senior Development Manager at Peabody, said previous plans had been reworked for a better mix of one, two and three-bed homes and incorporate a communal landscaped podium deck at the heart of the development and a roof terrace sitting on the 17th floor.

Ryann Peterson, Head of Bid Management at Durkan, said: Durkan is pleased to have been successful in securing and finalising the contract to deliver Higgs Yard.

This is a very exciting time for us as a business.  We’re very much looking forward to continue building on our relationship with Peabody and maximising the potential of this fantastic development.”