Countryside Properties sets aside £41m for recladding

Countryside Properties is setting aside £41m to cover post-Grenfell cladding and fire safety retrofits on its former building projects.

The firm revealed its commitment to retrofit 69 buildings, as it unveiled improved results showing a return to profit as it began a strategic switch to focus entirely on its partnerships business going forward.

John Martin, chairman, said: “We have examined all buildings developed by Countryside over the last 15 years and identified 69 buildings across 17 sites where remedial works are required to bring them in line with current building regulations.

“Throughout the year, we have engaged with building owners, carried out invasive surveys and priced building owners’ scope of works.

“This has enabled us to more accurately estimate the potential costs associated with these buildings. As a result, we have established a provision of £41m to cover the cost of remedial works and losses suffered by building owners where it is identified that the works are necessary because we fell short of our high standards at the time of construction.”

Over the year to September 2021, Countryside bounced back into the black with a £73m operating profit after plunging £5.5m into the red after Covid disruption last year.

Revenue jumped by half to £1.5bn.

Following a strategic business review earlier this year, Countryside said in July it would focus all its resources on lower risk Partnerships, withdrawing from its a two-division market sale structure.

This saw Countryside establish a new Partnerships division to serve the Home Counties using people and resources from the legacy house building operations.

Martin added: “Countryside has a clear path to becoming 100% focused on our differentiated and market-leading mixed tenure Partnerships business.

“Since we announced the strategy earlier this year, we have made excellent progress in establishing the new division in the Home Counties where we have a wealth of opportunities to bring our award-winning proposition to a new generation of home-owners and tenants in an area where it is sorely needed.”

Countryside forecast that group operation margins will reach 13% once its new regions are established.

Construction of its new modular panel factory in Bardon, Leicestershire has completed and will begin production by the end of 2021.


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BAM pairing takes £26m Sunderland train station

BAM’s building and civils operations have teamed up to bid successfully for the new southern entrance project at Sunderland’s railway station.

In a rare collaboration between the BAM Nuttall and the BAM Construction business, both firms will work together paving the way for possible closer working on further station and railway upgrades.

Preparatory works are due to begin in early 2022, with demolition of the existing entrance clearing the way for the construction of the £26m statement building, which will overlook Market Square.

The new entrance features a large glass wrap-around design, and will include a new ticket office and reception, public toilets, retail space and cafes, comfortable waiting areas.

It is the first part of a six-year programme that will see the northern entrance of the station reimagined and platform-level works carrield out to increase the capacity of the station, with four tracks and four platforms to separate Nexus and Metro from mainline services.

Working in partnership with Network Rail, Nexus, Grand Central and Northern Rail, Sunderland City Council is driving this project as the first stage of redevelopment of the whole station.



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VolkerFitzpatrick wins £26m DIRFT sheds

Industrial and logistics developer Prologis UK has picked VolkerFitatrick to design and build two new production units at its Daventry International Rail Terminal (DIRFT) site.

The project is worth over £26m and will see the firm build 230,000sq ft, and 280,000 sq ft. each to 18m in height.

Work starts on site this month and will run to August 2022.

The spaces will largely be used for goods storage and will be equipped with two-storey main office accommodation, as well as smaller hub offices.

Stuart Deverill, managing director of VolkerFitzpatrick’s Building division, said that throughout the project, the team would also be taking steps to engage with the local community and minimise their environmental impact.

This will include working with supply chain contractors from the surrounding area and adjusting the finished site levels during the earthworks and groundworks phase, to eliminate removal of waste materials from site.

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Osborne wins £21m London City grade II interior refurb

The City of London has signed Osborne as main contractor for the challenging £21m refurbishment for the 1903 Grade II listed building at 84 Moorgate.

Formerly home to part of the London Metropolitan University, Electra House project will see the 54,000 sq ft building upgraded to offices to suit a fintech tenant.

The project will demand the very careful and sensitive refurbishment to the basement and across the building’s seven floors.

There will be alterations to partitions, secondary glazing, new lifts, and roof top enclosures. The reconfiguration and updating of electrical and plant systems will provide modern efficient and reliable facilities and provide improved accessibility.

The project will start in the new year and will be completed at the end February 2023.

Osborne Built Environment Managing Director Gordon Kew said: “This is a very special building with great heritage and including many significant decorative features.

“We will undertake the work with the care and respect that this great building deserves. I am looking forward to seeing the completed scheme which will create many intelligently designed spaces with modern services and facilities that will improve the working environment for the users whilst protecting the fantastic heritage of the building.”

Green light for £65m canalside scheme in Wolverhamption

Full planning permission has been granted to build-to-rent developer Placefirst for 366 new homes and commercial space in the heart of Wolverhampton’s historic Canalside Quarter.

Site preparation work is now expected to start next summer on the £65m scheme.

The development will provide a mix of townhouses, new build apartments and commercial space across five acres of brownfield land.

Sensitive restoration of heritage canalside properties including several listed buildings, and major environmental improvements will be implemented in the scheme which is designed by architecture practice jmarchitects, with WSP as planning and heritage consultants.

Darran Lawless, development director for Placefirst said: “We are proud of all the hard work undertaken by the whole team and our partners, that will enable a brownfield site situated in such a historic location to reach its true potential, creating an exciting, sustainable new neighbourhood.

“The focus on placemaking and development of public realm at this ­waterside development, is another example of Placefirst’s commitment to delivering schemes that will rejuvenate communities, and adds to our track record of creating neighbourhoods with a real sense of place.”

Councillor Stephen Simkins, City of Wolverhampton Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “They will deliver a nationally significant development that not only brings back into use a large parcel of brownfield land but also enables the city to take advantage of our fantastic waterways, and the heritage that comes with it, to provide a sustainable community where people want to live and work, now and in the future.

“The Placefirst scheme will also generate around 150 jobs and boost our economic recovery from Covid-19.

“Urban living forms a critical part of how we are re-imagining our city centre and will help us meet the increasing demand for housing.”

Sellafield names £250m HVAC key delivery partners

Sellafield has selected the first key delivery partners for its new integrated delivery team model for key work packages in the clean-up of the nuclear site in West Cumbria.

Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick and EJ Parker Technical Services have taken the prized key delivery partner spots for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, a framework agreement worth up to £250m over the life of the programme.

The HVAC package is the first of several to be awarded by the overarching Programme and Project Partners – a five-strong team of firms delivering the massive clean up plan spanning the next 18 years.

The PPP partnership is made up of lot partners KBR (integration partner); Jacobs (design and engineering partner); Morgan Sindall Infrastructure (civils construction management partner) and Doosan Babcock (process construction management partner) and Sellafield as the fifth partner.

This new Multi Project Procurement (MPP) model has been set up to encourage long-term collaboration throughout the supply chain.

Key delivery partners will be selected for work packages covering everything from electrical and instrumentation and fabrication and manufacturing to groundworks and general civils.

Two firms are due to be announced for a £170m mechanical pipework deal and another two for £400m worth of electrical & instrumentation works in January.

A bid contest is already underway for building interior fit-out and finishes, and  concrete structures, groundworks and blockwork packages.

Eldon Garnett, on behalf of PPP management board, said: “It’s really pleasing to award our first contract as part of the MPP process, enabling us to start to realise the benefits that we know this programme will deliver.

“Looking at the responses during the HVAC tender process, there is clearly huge enthusiasm right across the supply chain to be part of the PPP team, addressing the wider Sellafield Ltd mission and we look forward to welcoming more Key delivery partners in the months ahead.”

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Ex-Laing O’Rourke boss to head rejigged BAM UK business

Royal BAM has rejigged its operational structure to concentrate on just two dedicated growth businesses in the UK and Ireland, and the Netherlands.

Its remaining businesses in Germany and Belgium will be managed for value with operational cuts and divestments.

Royal BAM will also set its sights on investing to become a top-three contractor in the UK and Ireland as part of the new business focus.

This new structure will replace the existing group business lines, which were split down construction, property and civil engineering disciplines.

Former Royal BAM Group civil engineering divison chief operating officer John Wilkinson will now take responsibility for the activities in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Wilkinson joined BAM a year ago from international consultant SNC-Lavalin where he was president of infrastructure, based in Montreal, Canada.

Before that held senior positions with Laing O’Rourke, Kier and May Gurney, respectively as managing director UK Infrastructure, executive director Services and managing director.

The new reporting structure, which comes into effect from January, will effectively unite the BAM Construction building business and Bam Nuttall civil engineering operation under one senior executive for the first time.

In a statement this morning the board said: “With this new organisational structure, BAM will enhance its effectiveness and focus on growth, leveraging its top-3 market positions in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“This change will also contribute to faster development of innovative solutions, supporting BAM’s clients to improve their sustainability and lower their carbon footprint.”

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Leeds £270m Lisbon Square towers approved

Plans for a £270m mixed-use scheme to transform the former International Swimming Pool site in Leeds have got the green light.

Development partners Marrico Asset Management and Helios Real Estate are behind the Lisbon Street scheme, which will consist of a cluster of four high-rise buildings.

The partners plan to start work work next spring on 600 build to rent flats in 33 and 22 storey towers.

A further 550 student beds will be delivered in a 24-storey student block, a 15-storey aparthotel there will also be 150,000 sq ft of office space, along with further retail and leisure.

More than half of the site will be given over to gardens and landscaping

Marrico’s Partner, Mark Barnes said: “The Lisbon Street development will remove an unsightly site and deliver high-quality architecture and public realm, while creating an attractive and distinctive urban development in its own right.

“The scheme will reinforce the confidence in the continuing regeneration of the area, acting as a catalyst for further on-going investment and regeneration.”

Professional team

Architecture: DLA Architecture

QS: Richard Boothroyd & Associates

Structural consultant: Curtins

M&E: Commercial Services Design

Energy & Sustainability: Hydrock

Rocks smash site huts as quarry blast goes wrong

Breedon Trading Ltd has been fined £300,000 after blasting work at a Welsh quarry sent rocks flying into site buildings and beyond the danger zone.

Llandudno Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 15 January 2020, a blast at Cwt-y-Bugail Quarry in Llan Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, North Wales saw flyrock from the operation land 270m away, puncture the roof of an occupied work shed and put a hole in the outside pane of the occupied manager’s office skylight window.

An HSE investigation found that there were poor stemming practices, the written specification was prepared after the firing of the blast, and an inadequate danger zone was in place.

As a result there was a projection of flyrock outside of the danger zone that caused a quarry operative to run for cover and put other employees at risk when the roof of the shed they were working in was punctured.

Breedon Trading Ltd of Derby pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £2,534.80 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE’s Adrian Jurg, HM Specialist Inspector of Quarries, said: “Blasting operations at quarries are inherently high risk, and these risks must be rigorously controlled by good explosives engineering practice and in accordance with legal requirements.

“It is unacceptable that employees, and potentially members of the public, be put at serious risk of being hit by rocks that could easily lead to death or serious injury.”

Massive Stewart Milne development goes into administration

A subsidiary of Stewart Milne Group overseeing the planned construction of 3,100 homes near Aberdeen has gone into administration.

FRP Advisory is now running Countesswells Development Limited (CDL) which was overseeing work at the Countesswells new town.

Around 900 homes and several commercial properties and community facilities have been built or are under construction on the site.

A spokeswoman for CDL told the Press & Journal: “We are extremely disappointed that CDL, set up to deliver Countesswells, one of the most visionary and environmentally pioneering new communities in the UK, has been placed into administration.

“We firmly believe in the future of the project and will, of course, co-operate fully with the administrators to help ensure that the vision, which many people share for Countesswells, is realised.

“In the meantime, all existing construction work on the affordable homes at Countesswells will continue, and these homes will be completed and ready to move into as planned.”

Joint administrator Tom MacLennan said: “Our immediate priority will be to secure the site and finalise current construction, including completion of much-needed affordable housing projects.

“We will be reviewing the various land bank assets in line with the development plans and will work closely with the various stakeholders on the future development of the site.”

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