The week that was - 2 February 2024

Published on 02 February 2024

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

CLC consider ban on retentions

The minutes of a recent Construction Leadership Council (CLC) meeting shows that the holding of a retention remains a point of concern and may be contributing to company failures.  The CLC previously stated that they would look to abolish the practice of withholding retention sums by 2025 but have since dropped this policy.  Members of the CLC will however look to work further on the issues identified at the meeting in regard to retentions.

The Government has made clear that it considers the issue of retention to be one on which the industry should reach a consensus before it will intervene.  Following lobbying efforts from the CLC, retention clauses are no longer standard in NEC contracts.  While the JCT has not yet confirmed whether retention clauses will remain within the new suite of JCT contracts (to be published later this year), it is possible to state that the applicable rate of retention is 0% under the current suite of documents.

The CLC minutes are available here. Click here to read more.
3DXB Group build world's largest 3D printed villa

Dubai company 3DXB used additive manufacturing techniques to construct a 300sqm residential villa out of concrete, which has been officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s biggest 3D-printed villa.

3DXB Chairman Badar Rashid Al Blooshi commented: “this Guinness World Record is not just about the sheer height of the structure, but also about the innovative approach of printing a four-meter-high building in one session.  It is a matter of pride for us to be at the forefront of technological advancements in construction, contributing to the realization of Dubai's 3D Printing Strategy 2030.

Dubai's 3D Printing Strategy is believed to offer economic and environmental benefits, with the aim of achieving a minimum rate of 25% implementation of 3D printed buildings in the Emirate by 2030.

Click here to read more.
Restoration of Hull landmark begins to breathe new life into key site

The Wykeland Group has initiated a £2 million restoration project for Castle Street Chambers, a Grade II-listed building in Hull, dating back to 1900.  Located next to the Connexin Live Arena in the city centre, the structure, once offices for Hull steamship owners, has been vacant since the 1970s and has deteriorated over the years.  The project involves the removal of protective scaffolding after 20 years, with plans to incorporate the historic Earl De Grey, a neighbouring pub, within the development.  The complex restoration includes roof and window repairs, a single-storey extension, and reconstruction of the Earl De Grey's frontage.  

The Hull-based Wykeland Group, collaborating with National Highways, Historic England and Hull City Council, aims to create over 6,000 sq ft of commercial space.  The project, supported by £162,000 of Levelling Up Funding from Hull City Council, is set for completion in early 2025, marking a significant rejuvenation of this heritage site.

To read more, please click here.

Unite wins tribunal ruling over Tolent

A tribunal has ruled that Tolent breached the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 when it failed to consult Unite before making redundancies.  Over 300 employees, including union members, were made redundant following the contractor's collapse in February 2023, but Unite, the UK's second-largest union, was not consulted before the redundancies took place.  

As such, the tribunal found that Tolent had breached section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, which creates a duty for employers to consult trade union representatives prior to dismissing an employee.  Affected Unite members will be provided with remuneration for 90 days' pay.

For more information, please see here.
Building Safety Regulator will allow "holes" in design when signed-off

On 10 January 2024, the Building Safety Regulator hosted a Webinar titled "The New High Rise Buildings Regime – Design and Construction - Fundamentals for Designers and Contractors" (which can be viewed here upon registration), in which it explained that contractors can commence work on tall buildings with some "holes" in designs under the new building safety regime. 

Neil Hope-Collins, the Operational Policy Lead for the Higher Risk Building Control Authority from the Building Safety Regulator, explained: “There will legitimately be part of the design that I think of as ‘holes’ in the design.  There are bits that you legitimately can’t have the detail for yet because that’s six years down the line."

Read more in Construction News here.
Conclusion of inquiry on modern methods of construction in housing

On 26 January 2024, the Built Environment Committee of the House of Lords wrote to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, following a brief inquiry into modern methods of construction in housing.  The inquiry was set up following the collapse of several companies specialising in such construction methods.

The letter concluded that while "modern methods of construction can have an important place in UK housebuilding, especially in the context of an ageing skilled workforce and the inefficiency of traditional housebuilding methods… the Government had too easily accepted that undirected and nonstrategic investment of public money was the obvious way of providing this assistance."  The Built Environment Committee of the House of Lords requested that the Government develop "a clear strategy and a good understanding of how the industry operates" so that "it could play an important role in supporting the growth of modern methods of construction" and that Mr Gove responds to these conclusions within six weeks.

You can read the letter here.
Authors for this week's edition:  Charlie Underwood, Ava Mathias, Zack Gould-Wilson, Hannah Kendall, and Nikita Austin

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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