The Week That Was - 1 March 2024

Published on 01 March 2024

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

RICS calls for urgent review into building control capacity

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has called for an urgent review to determine how many surveyors will be registered building inspectors by April.  In October 2023, the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) established a register of building inspectors across the public and private sector, which required all practising building control professionals in England and Wales to be registered by April 2024.

The short time between the BSR's approval of the independent assessment bodies and the deadline for registration has led to insufficient preparation time.  The urgent review has been called following feedback that there are significant numbers of professionals who won't have been registered in time and will therefore cease in their function as Approved Inspectors post 6 April 2024. There are fears that this could cause a rapid decline in capacity within the sector.

You can find out more here.
Equans Regeneration quits new-build work after £136m loss

After suffering a £136m loss, the contractor Equans Regeneration has quit the new build sector given the majority of their losses were generated by new build housing.

The chief executive has blamed the £99m new build loss on cost inflation, supply chain failures, legislative changes and low level returns across the industry. This led to their decision to withdraw completely from their new build contracts by 2025, with the exception of maintaining their new build work within the student accommodation market.

The restructured regeneration group is now looking to other sectors to provide long-term and sustainable business prospects.

You can find out more here
Investigation into potential breaches of competition law opened

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has opened an investigation into suspected breaches of competition law by eight house builders.  The CMA is said to have uncovered evidence which suggests that the eight house builders in question may be sharing commercially sensitive information with their competitors, including sales process and details of incentives for buyers. According to the CMA, this raises a concern that such information sharing could influence both the build out of sites and the prices of new homes.

The investigation followed a year-long review into the barriers leading to the undersupply of new homes, and resulted in the CMA concluding that it had 'fundamental concerns' surrounding the housebuilding market.

Investigators are now inviting representation from those home builders concerned before making a decision as to whether any competition law has been infringed.

For further information, please see here.
BT Tower to be turned into a hotel

Following its sale by BT Group to MCR Hotels for £275m, the BT Tower in central London is set to be turned into a hotel. The BT Tower is a grade II listed communications tower which is located in Fitzrovia, London.  Its main structure reaches 177 metres in height and was once the tallest structure in London, before it was surpassed in 1980 by the NatWest Tower.  Tyler Morse, CEO and owner of MCR Hotels, said: “We are proud to preserve this beloved building and will work to develop proposals to tell its story as an iconic hotel, opening its doors for generations to enjoy.

According to BT, 'payment for the sale will be made over multiple years, as BT Group equipment is progressively removed from the building, with final payment on completion of the purchase'.

For further information, please see here

BSA – Project Managers Competency Framework Published

Working Group 10, comprised of the Association of Project Managers (APM), the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), has published a new competency framework for demonstrating compliance to the Building Safety Regulator.  There is a staggered implementation of the framework, which will be the sole route to achieve competence from September 2027.  Before September 2025, competence can be demonstrated only by achieving chartered status with the CIOB, APM or RICS and demonstrating relevant experience.  Between September 2025 and 2027, both routes can be followed.

For the CIOB press release – click here.  For the framework – click here.
Latest challenge to Stonehenge Tunnel Project unsuccessful –
R(on the application of Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site and Andrew Rhind-Tutt) v SS for Transport [2024] EWHC339 (Admin)

The A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down project, which includes a proposed 3.2km tunnel under Stonehenge, now looks closer to proceeding, as the latest court challenge has failed. 

The initial proposal approved in November 2020 was rejected by the High Court in July 2021, following which the proposal was resubmitted. Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site sought judicial review on the more recent consent order. Apart from a reconsideration of the environmental impact assessment, which will be reconsidered by the courts but will not prevent the development moving forwards, the case was rejected,  with most of the allegations found to be "unarguable" by Mr Justice Holgate.  

For the decision – click here.


Authors for this week's edition: Hannah McDonagh, Emrys Moore, and Chloe Carter

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.

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