The Week That Was - 28 July 2023

Published on 28 July 2023

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

New digital justice system envisioned by Master of the Rolls

A new digital dispute resolution service has been piloted in Manchester and Middlesborough, with the aim of providing dispute resolution "at the earliest possible stage, at the lowest possible cost, and in the shortest possible time" according to the Master of the Rolls. 

The Master of the Rolls considers that applying the standards of court-based commercial dispute resolution to every dispute makes the process cumbersome and unwieldy.  An Online Procedure Rules Committee will dictate the standards that the online dispute resolution processes must attain and provide functional governance for the online platforms.  

It is intended that in time the Ombudsman services will also fall within the digital justice system.

Click here to read more.

Build UK guide on the Building Safety Act 2022

Build UK has published a free comprehensive guide on the Building Safety Act 2022 including its scope and wide-ranging impact to ensure businesses across the sector are aware of their responsibilities.  

The guide offers useful information and includes links to other useful material that may be of benefit to clients (or other non-specialists interested in understanding the legislation).

To read more, please click here.

HS2 branded "unachievable" by Government authority

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), the Government's centre of expertise for infrastructure and major projects, published its annual report in July. It awarded the first phase and phase 2a of the Government's high-speed railway project (HS2) a rating of "unachievable", which is defined as:

"Successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable.  There are major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable.

The project may need re-scoping and/or its overall viability reassessed".

The rating follows a difficult few months for the project, seeing delays, rising costs and the proposal of major revisions. 

In response, HS2 Limited has rallied behind "the fantastic momentum already underway" and stands by its plan to have an operational high-speed railway line between Birmingham and London by the early 2030s.

Please see a link to the full article here.

London's third highest skyscraper gets the greenlight

London's skyline is set to change again with the construction of a new 63-storey skyscraper at 55 Bishopsgate, as the City of London prepares to provide its approval for construction.

The 269m tall building will offer more than 103,000 square metres of commercial floorspace (roughly 80% being office space) and a free roof garden.

Construction of the building has previously seen opposition from Historic England, due to its impact on London's skyline and views of St Paul's Cathedral, while the Twentieth Century Society has also objected on the basis of the loss of the existing building, a 9-storey 1980's block by Fitzroy Robinson & Partners.

Meanwhile, the Council's planning officers describe the existing building as having "no historic interest" and have stated that the new building will be "elegantly tapered and distinctive" and will "contribute significantly to inward investment in the Square Mile".

Please see further details here.

Gove refuses M&S Oxford Street redevelopment in landmark ruling

Following a public inquiry, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, has refused permission for Marks & Spencer to rebuild its Oxford Street store.  The scheme, designed by Pilbrow & Partners, would have seen the demolition of three buildings, with a 10-storey replacement store and office block in their place.  Marks & Spencer argued that the greater energy efficiency of the new building would offset the carbon emitted by the rebuild; however, Gove concluded that this would not be the case until the UK's grid achieved net-zero.  There were also concerns around potential harm to the significance of nearby stores, including the Grade II listed Selfridges building.  Gove's decision is expected to be highly influential for the future of major demolish-and-rebuild projects.

For more information, please see here.

Landmark Social Housing Act becomes law

Landlords can be given unlimited fines, and social housing managers will be required to have qualifications, under the new Social Housing Act, which received Royal Assent this week.  The requirement for social housing managers to have qualifications was called for by Theresa May whilst she was Prime Minister and following Grenfell.  The Act also introduces time limits for social landlords to fix hazards such as damp and mould.  The new law will affect 9 million people living in social housing in England, and has been praised by homelessness charities including Shelter and Crisis.

For more information, please see here.

Authors for this week's edition:  Mahsheed Ibram, Tom Westford, and Ava Mathias

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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