Construction National

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Tue22052018

Last updateThu, 17 May 2018 11am

Huge restructuring programme needed after Carillion collapse

Construction National blog logoRarely has a story regarding the fortunes of a construction company generated more national press interest than the fall from grace of Carillion. Those of us who remember the company as the construction arm of Tarmac prior to 1999 are aghast that such a business could find itself in such straits.

The issue goes much further than mere sentiment, of course. With hundreds of public sector projects in the portfolio, including hospitals and prisons, there is a huge restructuring operation to be carried out to keep those contracts going. The government has a job on its hands.

Read more: Huge restructuring programme needed after Carillion collapse

Construction industry builds up a head of steam as confidence returns

Construction National blog logoRecent months have seen the steady building up of a head of steam in the construction industry. Output has been improving and confidence returning - albeit with a bit of a dip in the run-up to the General Election.

Read more: Construction industry builds up a head of steam as confidence returns

On the move or staying at home – innovation and sustainability are key issues

Construction National blog logoThe two main construction sectors attracting interest from the news media continue to be housing and transport infrastructure. The two are closely connected in one sense, with infrastructure being the essential precursor to housing development.

There is more to the transport infrastructure than roads serving new housing estates, of course. Some of the most breathtaking and simply impressive projects are in the sector. The daddy of them all in this country remains the Crossrail project. Crossrail has featured frequently in this column, with superlatives totting up. The latest milestone in civil engineering terms has been the structural completion of the tunnels for the north east spur of Crossrail, between Whitechapel and Pudding Mill Lane (both darkly evocative names).

Read more: On the move or staying at home – innovation and sustainability are key issues

So what’s the real Big Idea - back to the past with a garden; or onward into the future at Crewe?

Construction National blog logoSo garden cities are the new vogue in housebuilding policy announcements. On 16 March Chancellor George Osborne announced that a new garden city was to be built at Ebbsfleet in Kent, providing 15,000 new homes on brownfield land.

The development will be driven forward by a new development corporation – a ‘Garden City’ Development Corporation – similar to those that oversaw development in areas such as the London Docklands and the various New Towns of the 1980s. One of this writer’s first jobs in publishing was on a publication covering the Warrington and Runcorn Development Corporation’s area of influence. That, of course, was not a garden city, although it is not a million miles from one of the pioneering ventures in the movement: Lord Leverhulme’s Port Sunlight.

The original garden city concept grew out of the Arts and Crafts movement and was a reaction to the grim Victorian tenements and terraces. It is, one would be forgiven for thinking, a tad socialist for our current Chancellor. But George is really reacting to an idea already in the arena. On 20 November Labour’s shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds put forward a plan for a new generation of new towns and garden cities at the AGM of the Town and Country Planning Association – the successor to Ebenezer Howard’s Garden Cities Association.

Read more: So what’s the real Big Idea - back to the past with a garden; or onward into the future at Crewe?

The industry continues the good work, and congratulates the best of its members

January saw the year off to a good start for the construction industry, with one report showing higher levels of growth than at any time since 2007. The UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index – a statistical tool jointly compiled and published by market research company Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply – reported growth in all sectors. The irony is that the continuing growth in activity has led to a parallel “deterioration in supplier performance”. Seems product suppliers have not cottoned on to the fact that the industry is out of recession and is not keeping up with demand.

Read more: The industry continues the good work, and congratulates the best of its members