The Week That Was - 13 October 2023

Published on 13 October 2023

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

Keir Starmer launches Labour's plan to "get Britain building again"

At the annual Labour Party conference in Liverpool this week, Keir Starmer announced his plans to "unleash the big build," in efforts to improve the UK's economic growth.

Starmer's party conference speech hinted at Labour's policy direction, citing goals of building 1.5 million homes, greater development of brownfield sites, and to relax planning restrictions on green belt land. 

The Labour Party leader further commented that "we must bulldoze through" our restrictive planning system, which he described as "an obstacle to the aspirations of millions – now and in the future – who deserve the security of home ownership." 

Click here to read more. Keir Starmer's full speech is available here.

Construction Industry Training Board launches free online fire safety awareness course

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has developed a fire safety awareness course with the aim of improving understanding of fire safety standards across the construction industry.  The skills gap was identified through the CITB's work with industry groups, and CITB worked with Build UK, the Fire Protection Association, the Fire Service College, and the Association for Specialist Fire Protection to produce the course content.

Build UK Chief Executive Suzannah Nichol recommended "that anyone working on a construction project completes this online course to make sure that they understand just how important [fire safety standards] are in delivering safe buildings."

Further details can be found here.

The construction industry's progress in achieving 'zero carbon' is being hampered by lack of consensus on standards

The ability of the UK's construction industry to achieve net zero targets is being obstructed by the disagreement over how carbon is measured, and even over what 'net-zero' truly means.

A recent report by Currie & Brown found there to be at least 12 different 'zero-carbon building' standards from different national bodies. This confusion is compounded by the presence of many more regional and local standards, as well as other related standards for energy and sustainability.  Currie & Brown have called for a collaborative approach by the construction industry to develop common standards.

Nick Gray, UK Chief Operating Officer of Currie & Brown, commented: "the lack of clarity on sustainability policy and standards is a significant challenge for the UK construction industry.  However, it also presents an opportunity for organisations to take a leading role in development solutions and driving progress towards decarbonisation targets."

Click here to read more. Currie & Brown's full report is available here.

Vinci and Sir Robert McAlpine appointed to build new £105m rehab centre

Vinci and Sir Robert McAlpine have been appointed to build a new 70-bed National Rehabilitation Centre at Nottingham University Hospital worth £105m.

It is estimated that the three-storey building will be completed by 2024, and that the first patients could start receiving treatment in early 2025.
Progress photos of the project are available here. Click here to read more on Construction News (subscription required).

Housebuilding slump leads sharp fall in construction activity

Construction activity dropped sharply last month, led by a further slump in house building, with the S&P Global / CIPS UK's latest Purchasing Managers' Index dropping from 50.8 in August to 45.0 in September.  Whilst the index for residential work (currently at 38.1) was the biggest cause of the drop, both civil engineering and commercial work also saw declines.  Companies have reported the steepest decline in new orders since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with fewer house building projects, which has been attributed to rising borrowing costs and weak demand conditions.

However, higher fuel prices and certain raw material price rises were counterbalanced by a fall in shipping costs and increased price competition amongst suppliers.  Delivery times for construction products and materials have also continued to shorten.

Read more on Construction News here

55 towns to each receive £20m over 10 years

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DHLUC) has announced that 55 'left behind' towns will receive £20million each to assist with reviving their high streets, creating more housing, and improving transport.

A 'towns taskforce' will be set up, reporting directly to the Prime Minister, which will work on reforming licensing rules to make it easier for towns to repurpose buildings and create more housing in town centres.  'Town Boards' with representation from community leaders, employers, local authorities, and local MPs will also be set up. The Town Board will be encouraged to work with the local planning authority, although no designated board positions have been earmarked as yet for the planning authorities.

A list of the 55 towns can be found here.


Authors for this week's edition:  Liz Johnson, Helen Thomas, Zack Gould-Wilson and Hannah Kendall

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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