Construction National

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Wed19122018

Last updateMon, 17 Dec 2018 2pm

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.

Healthcare is an area this publication has been covering in some depth over recent issues – in particular the provision of social care by what is predominantly the private sector. Specialist providers are continuing to update provision as modern requirements progress. One such is the redevelopment of the Heron View facility for adults with neurocognitive and neurodegenerative disorders in Croydon. Despite the fact the building is only 15 years old, advances in care provision had already rendered it in need of modernisation. The result can be seen on the front cover of this issue.

Another area that sees constant advance is that of animal welfare and conservation practice in our zoos. Woburn Safari Park in Dorset has seen spectacular success in that sphere since it opened its new state-of-the-art giraffe house. In the ensuing 12 months no fewer than three calves were born, adding to its herd of endangered Rothschild’s giraffe.

The design of zoo exhibitions is also one in which new technology is being deployed. Virtual reality can allow clients to envisage what an exhibit will look like before it has been built.

That use of new technology – in particular BIM – is at the heart of the new Construction Sector Deal, which forms part of the government’s White Paper on industrial strategy. The strategy recognises that the use of BIM and other digital tools is an essential element in the delivery of housing and infrastructure in the future.

Another element recognised by the Construction Sector Deal is offsite construction, which allows the build process to be controlled as never before.

Offsite construction also forms a vital element in the delivery of sustainable construction. That is why the Offsite Construction Awards are held as part of ecobuild, the country’s principal expo for sustainable construction. ecobuild has been rebranded this year, and will also include the BREEAM Awards.

Opening up access to the industry is at the heart of all training and education initiatives. The industry’s annual Open Doors week, to be held in March, is an ideal opportunity to show young people the broad range of careers available in construction. Among the sites opening their doors is the redevelopment of Bolton Museum, housed in the building that awakened this writer’s interest in architecture back in the 1970s.

The Ministry of Defence, in the form of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, has reviewed its approach to procurement of infrastructure contracts – in particular making itself more accessible to SMEs in bidding for projects. It has even admitted it has not been the easiest of agencies to deal with in the past.

Which brings us to Brexit – again! As the clock ticks the likely consequences of a failure to secure a favourable deal are being pointed out by an array of voices – from London Mayor Sadiq Khan to the Home Builders Federation. All are united on one issue: the legion of construction workers from EU countries must continue to be made welcome following Brexit. The contribution they make to the industry is too valuable to be thrown away.