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The Week That Was - 17 November 2023

Published on 17 November 2023

Welcome to The Week That Was, a round-up of key events in the construction sector over the last seven days.

Consultation launched on Scottish cladding remediation bill

The Scottish Parliament's Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee has launched a public consultation on the Housing (Cladding Remediation) (Scotland) Bill.  Interested parties have been given a month to express their views on the newly introduced building safety laws.

The Bill has given Scottish Ministers the power to maintain a Cladding Assurance Register, and to take action in respect of buildings with unsafe cladding.  For a building to be assessed under the Bill, it must be at least 11m high, contain at least one residential unit, and must have been built or refurbished between 1 June 1992 and 1 June 2022.

Ministers will now have the power to establish a Responsible Developers Scheme, to encourage builders to carry out remedial works in buildings with unsafe cladding.  Eligible firms who do not become members of the scheme may become "prohibited developers", who will be barred from carrying out prescribed types of development.

To read more, please click here
Overengineering blamed for ever-increasing HS2 costs

Andrew McNaughton, one of the principal designers of the original HS2 plans, has cited overengineering as a key factor driving the project's spiralling costs.

In a Transport Committee evidence-gathering session, Mr McNaughton stated that the supply sector has become extremely cautious about construction risk since the collapse of Carillion in 2018, which has led to overengineered, 'bomb-proof' designs.  This was corroborated by former Rail magazine editor Nigel Harris, who claimed that overengineering was an 'endemic problem' leading to 'huge cost rises' for infrastructure projects in the UK.

Mr McNaughton also blamed numerous changes to the design scope by the Home Office for the continual costs rises over the lifespan of the project, as well as a skills shortage in the construction industry.  Adjusting for inflation, the total cost of the project was recently calculated as more than £150 billion, compared to the original estimate of £37.5 billion from 2013.

To read more, please click here.
Bristol tower block evacuated

Residents of a tower block in Bristol have been evacuated following a number of surveys which concluded that the tower was at risk of major structural faults in the event of a fire, explosion, or large impact.

Barton House, which was built in 1958, comprises of 98 flats which house approximately 400 people. In a statement, Bristol City council said: “As a precautionary measure and to allow for further, more in depth surveys, residents in the block are being asked to leave Barton House immediately."

For further information, please click here.
Extra funding secured for dual carriageway upgrade

In March 2021, Skanska was awarded a £507m project by National Highways to design and build a new 10-mile dual carriageway between Cambridge and Milton Keynes. However, the project was delayed as a result of a legal challenge by Transport Action Network, which argued that the scheme was unnecessary and that it failed to assess climate impacts at a regional or local level. In particular, it argued that the project would result in the loss of hedgerow habitat which would be a breach of existing environmental policy.

Two years later, National Highways has now cleared Skanska to commence the main construction work before the end of the year.  However, because of the delays caused by the legal challenge, Skanska has secured a further £24m to reflect the increase in costs due to inflation.  

For further information, please click here.  
University of Cambridge's new framework partners

The University of Cambridge has named 14 construction partners who have secured places on the major and minor works frameworks, which is estimated to deliver £680m of new work over four years.

Bowmer & Kirkland, Morgan Sindall, and Wilmott Dixon, have secured places for the first time, while Laing O'Rourke, Balfour Beatty, and Bouygues, will not renew their places in the framework.

Please click here for a summary of the frameworks.

Authors for this week's edition: Sam Holloway, Hannah McDonagh and Zack Gould-Wilson.

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