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The Week That Was - 15 March 2024

Published on 15 March 2024

Welcome to the week that was, a round-up of key events in the construction sector over the last seven days.

City formally approves plan to build 1.2 million sq m of office space by 2040

The City of London has approved its City Plan 2040, which outlines goals for development and sustainability over the next 16 years. This includes the construction of 1.2 million sq m of office space, intended to transform the City into a vibrant cultural and leisure destination.  The plan, approved by the Court of Common Council, will now be sent for public consultation before being evaluated by an independent planning inspector and final approval by government. Key features include provisions for tall buildings in designated areas, such as the City cluster and around Fleet Street and Liverpool Street.

The plan emphasises sustainability, with all large developments required to meet high BREEAM and NABERS UK ratings. 

To read more, please click here
ISG starts two prison upgrades worth £135m

ISG has commenced the first of two prison upgrade contracts.  The £79 million upgrade of Guys Marsh Prison aims to increase capacity by 31% with the construction of two new houseblocks. The houseblocks will feature 122 and 59 cells respectively and will be completed alongside a general refurbishment programme. The houseblocks are designed to meet net zero carbon goals, incorporating air source heat pumps and LED lighting to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating.

Building on their partnership with HMP Liverpool, ISG will provide a £56 million scheme to upgrade the facility from Cat B to Cat C status.  The project will upgrade electrical infrastructure, install new boilers, restore all wings and build a new workshop.  This comes as ISG was recently appointed to the Ministry of Justice's five-year constructor services framework.  

To read more, please click here.
CMA investigation into anti-competitive conduct around chemicals for construction use

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued an update on its investigation concerning suspected anti-competitive conduct around chemical admixtures and additives to be used in concrete, cement, mortars and other related construction products within the UK. 

The investigation began in October, alongside a European Commission investigation into anticompetitive behaviour, where the CMA has also been in contact with the US Antitrust Division.  The CMA announced a hearing for a judicial review application following the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)'s decision on the CMA's application in October 2023 for warrants to conduct inspections in relation to the investigation.  The CMA considers that the CAT made an error of law in applying the Competition Act 1998 and subsequently made an ultra vires order regarding the grounds for a warrant to inspect domestic premises.  The hearing is scheduled for 13 and 14 March 2024. 

More information on this is available here.  
DLUHC picks top barrister to lead review into speeding up major infrastructure projects

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has announced that it has appointed a top planning barrister, Charles Banner KC, to lead a review into speeding up major infrastructure project delivery.

The review, which is expected to take three months, will explore whether Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects are unduly delayed by inappropriate legal challenges and, if so, how the problem can be resolved effectively, whilst ensuring the constitutional right of access to justice.  The Housing Minister, Lee Rowley, said: "it is vitally important that we use every tool at our disposal to slash unnecessary planning delays and accelerate building where it is needed across the country."

The announcement comes as part of DLUHC's policy paper, 'Getting Great Britain building again: Speeding up infrastructure delivery', which sets out its new approach to the planning system. 

To read more, please visit here.
Court of Appeal considers the extent of a building owner's liability for remedial work costs under Party Wall etc Act 1996

The Court of Appeal unanimously allowed appeals relating to the Party Wall etc Act 1996 (PWA 1996).

On the facts, expert evidence established that the adjoining properties had significant pre-existing problems and any slight movement might have caused substantial damage.  The building owner appealed the initial decision of a surveyor that they should pay the entire costs of the remedial works.  Nugee LJ held that common law principles for assessing damages remained applicable and that the case turned on the third of five identified questions, "what work was necessary to repair the relevant damage?"

The Judge held that the relevant damage was to internal walls and slabs caused by the building owner's work, and that the building owner was not liable to compensate the adjoining owner for a pre-existing defect to their external wall because this was not caused by the building owner's work.

To read more, please visit here.

Authors for this week's edition: Nikita Austin, Rebecca Phipps, and Annabel Gallocher

Disclaimer: The information in this publication is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  We attempt to ensure that the content is current as at the date of publication, but we do not guarantee that it remains up to date.  You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.