Outside glass view of RPC building.

The Week That Was - 8 April 2022

Published on 08 April 2022

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

No more Covid-19 site-working guidance

 From 1 April 2022, construction sites will no longer have to enforce mask-wearing, staggered break times or frequent surface-cleaning.  Employers are also no longer required to explicitly consider the virus in health and safety risk assessments.

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) dropped this guidance following the Government's decision to archive its Working Safely During Coronavirus guidance as part of its Living with Covid-19 plan.  The CLC confirmed that its own industry-specific guidance notes on site operating procedures and face coverings are now out of date.

Despite this, however, CLC still recommends that businesses take responsibility for implementing risk mitigation measures in the workplace, and the needs of employees at greater risk from the virus should continue to be considered.

To read more, please click here or here.

New Homes Ombudsman

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has issued a 'factsheet' with updated guidance on a new voluntary New Homes Ombudsman scheme.  This is due to be implemented this Summer.

The scheme provides a dispute resolution service for buyers of new build homes and developers to deal with a range of complaints, including the conduct and quality of the work of a developer.  It will give the Ombudsman the power to award compensation to complainants and expel members from the scheme for non-compliance.  The Ombudsman will also be given investigatory powers and will be able to impose civil sanctions if developers breach the requirements of the scheme.

The scheme will initially be voluntary but is expected to become compulsory in England under the Building Safety Bill.

You can read the full factsheet here.

A reminder to strictly comply with termination clauses in Building Contracts

Two homeowners (the Claimants) brought a claim against their building contractor (First Defendant) and Architect (Second Defendant) following building works at their home.  The claim against the Second Defendant settled in July 2021, and the Claimant sought damages from the First Defendant for allegedly defective and incomplete works.

The completion date set for the works carried out by the First Defendant was 10 August 2015. Work did not complete on time and no applications for extensions of time were made.  On 10 December 2015, the First Defendant ceased work, following a period of minimal work being undertaken.  On 23 December 2015, the Claimants sent a Notice of Intention to Terminate to the First Defendant by email and to their home address by recorded delivery. On 11 January 2016, the Claimants then sent a Notice of Termination to the First Defendant by recorded delivery and by email on the same day. 

One of the key issues was whether the Claimants had validly terminated the Building Contract. The First Defendant argued that the contract expressly required the Contract Administrator to issue the notice.  The Judge agreed with this and also added that he was not satisfied that the Notice of Intention was received by the First Defendant 14 clear days before the Notice of Termination, as was required by the contract.  As such, the contract had not been validly terminated, in accordance with the termination provisions in the contract.

However, the Judge went on to say that he had "no hesitation" in finding that the First Defendant was in repudiatory breach of contract due to their conduct and the fact that they effectively ceased work on 10 December 2015.  Ultimately, therefore, the Judge found in favour of the Claimants and awarded damages for breach of contract in respect of defective and incomplete works, as well as an award for the consequential losses.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.

Proposals for huge South Bank office complex approved

 A controversial decision has been made to allow Make Architects to proceed with their plans for a huge office complex on London's South Bank.  This is despite hundreds of objections to the plans, which included concerns about the building overshadowing and diminishing the daylight of neighbouring properties, as well as its location next to two listed buildings.

Lambeth Council recently cleared the proposals for the office complex, which is estimated to cost between £300m and £400m.  The 26-storey tower will stand where ITVs London Studios once were.

The project team includes landscape architect Grant Associates, engineer Arup and QC Alinea.

To read more, please click here or here.

Updates to Building Safety Bill factsheets

The Government has updated its 'factsheets' to reflect the recent amendments to the Building Safety Bill ("the Bill").  The Bill had its final reading in the House of Lords on 4 April 2022 and is now going through the final stages in Parliament.  It is expected to become law later this year.

The factsheets are intended to provide further guidance on key provisions in the Bill.  They cover topics including leasehold protections, the building control regime for high-risk buildings, amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the 'golden thread'.

You can view all of the factsheets here.

Mixed-use Scheme in Shoreditch approved

Bishopsgate Goodsyard is the proposed mixed-use development on a 10.5 acre site in East London.  It includes more than 130,000 square metres of business space, as well as a hotel, 500 homes, retail and cultural arts spaces and a public park.  The site has been vacant for more than 50 years but a joint venture between Ballymore and Hammerson has seen plans being worked on for over a decade, with previous proposals being issued and subsequently withdrawn for the site in 2016. 

The Section 106 agreement has now been finalised, after Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, approved the plans in late 2020. The completion of the Section 106 deal is the scheme's final planning hurdle, and secures affordable homes and workspace within the development.

Ballymore group's managing director John Mulryan commented: “Bishopsgate Goodsyard is one of the most exciting redevelopment sites in London today. It will bring vitality to the district, create thousands of new jobs and significantly boost the local economy. With a mix of new homes sitting alongside workspace, shops, cafes and restaurants, cultural buildings, new streets and one of central London’s largest new parks, this place is designed with wellbeing in mind, where people [will] want to live, work and enjoy themselves.

Construction is expected to begin in 2024.

To read more, please click here or here.

Thanks to Jonathan Carrington, Sharona Zovich and Liz Johnson for contributing to this week's edition.

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