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The Week That Was – 3 May 2024

Published on 03 May 2024

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

New Partner in the RPC Construction Team

We are delighted to announce that Cecilia Everett has been promoted to partner in the RPC Construction team. This is richly deserved. Her details appear on the right hand side of this bulletin.

TCC considers requirements for a condition precedent to litigation

In Lancashire Schools SPC Phase 2 Ltd v Lendlease Construction (Europe) Ltd [2024] EWHC 37 (TCC), a local authority failed in its application to have the claim against it stayed or struck out on the basis of non-compliance with a contractual dispute resolution mechanism. The relevant building contract provided for adjudication before proceedings, a process which wasn't followed by the parties.  This adjudication provision was accepted by the Court as a condition precedent to litigation.  However, the Court exercised its discretion and declined to allow the application.  The Court found that parties to a contract are not necessarily required to follow an ADR provision, even if it is a condition precedent or expressed to be mandatory, because it will assess the surrounding circumstances in making its decision and in the exercise of its discretion. However, a party that does not adhere to an ADR provision in a contract runs the risk that a Court may order a stay or strike out the claim.

To find out more about the decision, click here.

Construction skills shortage may impact infrastructure projects

Ranstad UK warns that the combination of existing infrastructure projects, such as HS2 and Hinckley Point, are stretching the UK's construction workforce.  Future projects, such as Sizewell C, which it is estimated will take between 9 and 12 years, will create further demand for skilled labour.

Director of Ranstad UK, Simon Harris, considers that the labour shortage will create difficulties for employers without a long-term workforce plan. With planned infrastructure projects and the demand for home builders, the pressure for skilled labour will intensify over the next few years. There has been a gradual decline of the UK's construction labour force, which has declined from 2.8m workers in 2008 to 2.1m workers in 2023.

For further information, please click here.

Merger of ventilation firms could increase construction prices 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found that Lindab International AB's (Lindab) purchase of HAS-Vent Holdings Limited (HAS-Vent) raises competition concerns, in regard to the supply of circular ducts and fittings in England and Wales. 

Both Lindab (through its UK subsidiaries) and HAS-Vent manufacture and distribute ventilation systems, including circular ducts and fittings.  The CMA has found that the merger combines the current market leader and second largest supplier of circular ducts and that the combined businesses would likely supply around half of the market, reducing the level of competition.  Having considered the evidence, including internal documents and evidence from customers and competitors, the CMA has found that the loss of competition could increase prices for installers and contractors, and the overall cost of construction projects.

For further information please click here.

New Manchester arena opening postponed

The opening of the £365m Co-op Live Arena in Manchester, the UK's largest indoor venue, has been delayed due to electrical system issues. The arena, built by Bam Construct with mechanical and electrical works by SES Engineering Services, postponed performances by Peter Kay and The Black Keys. However, test events with a reduced capacity were held last weekend.

The decision was made to ensure public safety and complete critical procedures, including testing emergency communication and security systems. The delay aims to guarantee a consistent power supply and satisfy safety protocols before welcoming fans. Despite efforts to complete testing, the venue remains unready, prompting the further postponement of events and artists moving their performances to the rival AO Arena in the city.

To read more, please click here.

Plans for 42-storey tower above former hospital in Birmingham rejected

A proposal for a skyscraper that straddles the Grade II-listed former Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham has been unanimously rejected by councillors.  The planning consultancy Marrons, acting on behalf of HJB Investments, said that the plans would serve to bring the Grade II-listed building back into public use, as well as creating a 42-storey landmark tower. The tower would have housed rental flats, 20% of which would have been affordable.  However the scheme, which would have supported the tower above the Georgian maison by using large metal stilts, was branded as "ludicrous" and "utterly bonkers" in the council's planning committee meeting with councillors citing concerns that the proposals would cause harm to the building's structure and would need a fresh design.

To find out more about the project, click here.

Landmark Printworks site in London to be modernised and refurbished

The iconic Printworks site in Canada Water, South East London, is to be redeveloped.  The modernisation works will be carried out by Wates, in collaboration with British Land and AustralianSuper. The former home of the Daily Mail’s printing presses will undergo a transformation into a mixed-use development, featuring sustainable workspace known as The Grand Press and a dynamic cultural and events space.  Work on the site commenced in November, aiming to retain the original structural frame while constructing a modern, sustainable building around it.  Initial activities include demolition, site clearance and investigation works. Acquired by British Land in 2012, the site gained global recognition as Printworks London, operated by Broadwick, until its closure in May 2023.  British Land's recent announcement indicates that it plans to allocate 50% of the revamped building to workspace and the remaining area to a dedicated cultural and event space, building upon the venue's past success.

To read more, please click here.


Authors for this week's edition: Charlie Underwood, Zack Gould-Wilson, Nikita Austin and Tom Butterfield

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.