The Week That Was - 27 October 2023

Published on 27 October 2023

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

'Closing the Circle' report by Mace Group calls for construction industry to adopt a 'closed materials loop' when reusing materials 

Mace Group Ltd's report has found that 90.2% of waste from demolition and construction from London is recovered for either reuse or recycling, but the majority does not remain within the construction sector, instead leaking to other sectors or even overseas. 

The report calls on the UK's construction industry to adopt a 'closed materials loop', aiming to keep the reused or recycled materials within the industry.

Mace estimates that, if London adopted this approach for the next decade, over 13.8 million tonnes of material could remain within the London's supply chain. By comparison, 11.8 million tonnes of CO2 would be generated if London instead used the same volume of 'new' materials over this timeframe (equivalent to 3.6% of the UK's total emissions). 

Ged Simmonds, MD of Mace Group Ltd, commented that "by adopting and mandating circularity across our built environment projects we can make significant and meaningful steps in our shared pursuit of a sustainable world.

Click here to read more. Mace's report is available here
Government issue guidance notes on determining 'higher-risk buildings' 

The Government has released three Guidance Notes regarding the legal criteria used to determine whether a building is classed as a 'higher-risk building' under the Building Safety Act 2022, the Building Act 1984, and the Higher-Risk Buildings (Descriptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations 2023. 

The three Guidance Notes cover the following issues: 

  1. Whether a new building that is being designed and constructed is a "higher-risk building", (available here).
  2. Whether an existing building is a higher-risk building during building work, (available here).
  3. Whether a building is a higher-risk building during the occupation phase of the new higher-risk regime, (available here).

Notably, the 2nd Guidance Note may impact the scope of remedial works carried out to higher-risk buildings, such as buildings of 18m or above in height, or of 7 storeys or more.  The Note therefore contains detailed directions on how a building's height and number of storeys should be measured.

The Guidance Notes are available to read here
Building owner prosecuted for failing to remove cladding

Newham Council became the first council to successfully prosecute a building owner for failing to remove cladding.  The Council issued an improvement notice to Chaplair Limited in respect of the Lumiere Building which required cladding to be removed by 31 March 2021, but the work wasn't completed until February 2022.

Newham Council said that the Deputy Chief Magistrate at City of London Magistrates Court had ruled that a valid improvement notice had been served, Chaplair had failed to carry out the remedial works within the required period and that Chaplair had failed to satisfy him that they had a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the improvement notice.  Sentencing is due to take place this week. 

Click here to read more.

Forecasters predict construction recession to last until 2025

In its autumn forecast, the Construction Products Association (the CPA) predicts that construction output will fall by 6.8% in 2023.  In its summer forecast, the CPA predicted that there would be 0.7% growth in 2024 but has now revised this to a slight fall of 0.3% as it is expected that interest rates will remain at their current levels for longer, which will hold back the recovery in major sectors of construction activity, such as new build housing and repair, maintenance and improvement, until 2025.

The CPA noted that infrastructure activity remains strong due to work continuing on major projects, but it predicted infrastructure output to fall by 0.5% in 2023 and 0.1% in 2024.  It said that the decision to cancel HS2 had a limited impact as most work was planned to occur beyond the forecast period.

The CPA press release is available here.

Government's £4.5bn Building Safety Fund rejects three-quarters of applications

According to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, there have been 3,611 applications for funding since the scheme was introduced in 2020, but only 968 of these have been assessed as eligible.  

The scheme is designed to fund the remediation of unsafe ACM cladding on residential buildings taller than 18 metres.

Of the remaining 2,643 applications, 30% were assessed as ineligible, 41% were withdrawn and 60% were still under review or had insufficient evidence.  Only 443 buildings have started remediation work.

Read the Government's report here.

£1.5bn Planning Application to redevelop Liverpool Street Station to be made public (finally)

The planning application was made by Sellar and Network Rail in May, but has not been made available yet for public scrutiny.  No reason for the delay has been given, but it is rare for an application to take so long to become publicly available. 

It is understood that the plans, which have been put together by Sellar (the developer of the Shard), would see £450m spent in order to upgrade the capacity of the station and demolish parts built in the 1980s (in a mock Victorian Style).  A contemporary archway entrance would replace the demolished parts.

The application in May resulted in a letter by the Victorian Society, and signed by former RIBA presidents and celebrities, asking for a halt to the scheme.

The City of London has confirmed that the scheme has been "validated", which means it should appear shortly on the Planning Authority's website.

Read more here.

Authors for this week's edition: Paul SmylieChris Brewin 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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