October/November 2021

Tritax appoints GMI on logistics scheme in Middlewich

Photo of GMI Construction scheme

GMI Construction has announced that it has been instructed by leading logistics development company Tritax Symmetry to develop a huge new speculative logistics/warehouse scheme at a site in Middlewich known as MA6NITUDE. Infrastructure works are well underway on the Cheshire East development site which will see the construction of two units of 149,000 and 41,000 sq ft respectively. Both units will be net zero carbon in their construction and when complete, 15% of the roofs will be fitted with solar panels with the ability for the roofs to be fully covered in photovoltaic panels at a future date.

Speaking about the instruction, Marc Banks, Divisional Managing Director at GMI Construction, said: “We are delighted to be working with Tritax Symmetry to deliver these important new facilities in Middlewich. Our team has made an excellent start and the site is already taking shape to what will eventually be a first-class sustainable building that will be a huge business asset to the area.” Also commenting David Nuttall, Development Director at Tritax Symmetry, said: “We are excited to see spades go in the ground here at MA6NITUDE and bring forward high quality facilities at a time when demand for space is at record levels.”

Photo of Willmott Dixon SchemeRochdale appoint Willmott Dixon to deliver £60m scheme

Willmott Dixon has been appointed by Rochdale Borough Council for another large regeneration that will see the company deliver 242 apartments and a Hampton by Hilton hotel in the town centre. Work on the £60m scheme, known as Upperbanks, will start next month with Willmott Dixon aiming to ensure 40% of its local spend is within a 20 mile radius of the site, while 75% spent within 40 miles. Upperbanks has already generated over £20m of external funding, attracting over £17m from the government’s Future High Streets Fund and more than £3m from the Greater Manchester’s Combined Authority’s Brownfield Development Fund.

Councillor John Blundell, cabinet member for economy and communications at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “The appointment of Willmott Dixon is another crucial step forward for this fantastic scheme, which will totally regenerate this key brownfield site, and create a brand new housing and leisure offer which is unlike anything else we currently have in this area. Willmott Dixon is a known and trusted company, which previously constructed the Rochdale Riverside retail and leisure development. On that project, they contracted key local companies like Hovingtons and created local employment opportunities, including for ex armed forces personnel. I’m looking forward to seeing them build on this track record to deliver wider social benefits once again this time round.”

The Upperbanks site is next to the new Rochdale retail and leisure development that Willmott Dixon completed last year and is now over 90% let. The scheme boasts a number of major retail names, including H&M, M&S and River Island, alongside leisure operators, including Nandos, Loaded Burgers and Reel Cinema. The project has procured through the Procurement Hub Major Projects framework. Anthony Dillon, managing director for Willmott Dixon in the North, said: “We are hugely proud to continue to play our part in shaping the future of Rochdale town centre and to be working in partnership once again with Rochdale Borough Council, Genr8 and our architect partners Leach Rhodes Walker and KKA. This project will be built for the people of Rochdale by the people of Rochdale, and we will work with our local supply chain partners to create sustainable employment opportunities and a lasting positive legacy in this community.” Upperbanks is a Rochdale Borough Council scheme being delivered by Rochdale Development Agency, with Willmott Dixon as the contractors. It is set for completion in early 2024.

Photo of Aldi signage on buildingAldi reveal plans to build 100 new stores and giant hub in Leicestershire

Aldi, one of the UK’s fastest growing budget brand supermarkets, has revealed plans to grow its retail estate with 100 new stores being built across the UK over the next two years, as well as expanding its logistics infrastructure with a new 1.3 million sq ft site in Leicestershire. This is part of a planned investment of £1.3 billion over the next two years (2022-2023) in a bid to further accelerate its share of the UK grocery market. The plans are expected to create more than 2,000 new jobs next year, adding to the 7,000 permanent roles already created over the past two years.

In its annual trading update, Aldi said sales in the UK and Ireland had grown 10.2% to a record £13.5 billion in the year to 31 December 2020 (2019: £12.3 billion). Latest data shows Aldi is attracting more new shoppers through its doors than any other supermarket with a UK market share of 8.1%. Aldi, which has returned its business rate relief in full to HM Treasury, said profits had been dampened by its continued investment in price and the cost of responding to the pandemic, citing that it had “put people before profits” and focused on feeding the nation. The supermarket currently has 920 stores across the UK.

Aerial view of a new link road under construction in Lancashire, UKNational Highways announce multi-billion-pound road renewals programme framework

National Highways have announced deals with 50 supply chain partners to carry out up to £3.6 billion worth of renewals to keep England’s motorways and major A roads running safely and smoothly. This work is awarded as part of the government-owned company’s brand new six-year Scheme Delivery Framework (SDF). The framework will enable the delivery of renewals across a range of activities, including substantial civil work on barriers and drainage, traffic management activities and design services for a range of projects. It replaces the soon to expire existing contract mechanisms, known as the Construction Works Framework (CWF), Design Services Contracts (DSC) and Asset Support Contract (ASC).

Duncan Smith, Acting Executive Director for Operations at National Highways, said: “The announcement marks the start of a new way to keep the country’s motorways and major A-roads in top condition by delivering the largest and most comprehensive renewals programme we have ever embarked on. This new approach enables a diverse pool of suppliers of all sizes to work directly with National Highways. Approximately 23% of the overall framework value has been awarded to SMEs, so creating a secure pipeline of work and increasing innovation across the board.”

Social value was inherent throughout the procurement process ensuring that suppliers are measured on their contribution and impact socially within each region. Duncan added: “The framework offers a blend of large capital work along with smaller specialist opportunities that maximises the ability for SMEs to develop a direct relationship with National Highways, driving growth within the industry and introducing more innovation. “The SDF supports the delivery of National Highways’ decarbonisation, sustainability and environmental ambitions across its renewals programme. It limits repeat maintenance, reducing the exposure of the workforce to traffic and reduces the overall cost of maintaining the network.”

Photo of Capital & Centric Construction scheme for StockportCapital & Centric get green light for Weir Mill restoration

Social impact developer Capital & Centric has been given the go ahead for its £60m vision to create a vibrant town centre community at the historic Weir Mill site in Stockport. Stockport Council’s Planning & Highways Regulatory Committee approved the plans at its meeting at the end of September. The decision paves the way for the company to restore the derelict Victorian mill into design-led apartments, creating a new vibrant neighbourhood. The site, backed by £7m of Housing Infrastructure Fund from Homes England, is one of the cornerstone regeneration projects of the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC). The project will deliver 253 one, two and three-bed apartments across the existing Weir Mill and two new design-led buildings, alongside 24,000 sq.ft of commercial space that will establish a new leisure and culture destination in the heart of Stockport. It’ll also involve creating 60,000 sq.ft of public realm with gardens, social and creative outdoor spaces, opening the historic site to the public for the first time in years.

Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital & Centric said: “We’re floored with the feedback and support we’ve had for our vision for Weir Mill and can’t wait to celebrate the rich industrial heritage of the mill with sensitive restoration, and opening the site up with great community places, lush gardens and social spaces. The reality is that this stunning historic mill, parts of which date back to the 1700s, were at risk of being lost forever.”

Stockport Council Leader, Councillor Elise Wilson said: “The Council rightly identified the potential of Weir Mill as a key element towards creating a new community in the heart of Stockport, attracting more people to live and work here. It is hugely rewarding to know this derelict landmark will now not only be saved but become a catalyst for wider investment and will energise this area of the town centre.” Weir Mill is part of Stockport Council’s ambitious £1bn plans for the town centre. Construction is planned to start in early 2022.

Soaring staff costs revealed in Construction Sector

Unprecedented labour shortages in the construction industry, as well as unclear rules from the government on self-isolation are causing big problems for employers, a report has found. As the UK struggles with labour shortages, the report from employment expert Citation has found that difficulties filling vacant roles, and finding cover for absent employees, is causing staffing costs to soar. With more time and resources being put into finding the right candidates, and covering staff sickness/self-isolation due to Covid-19, the report found that almost 60% of businesses in the sector are experiencing rising costs. More than half of firms have seen staffing costs rise by at least 30%, putting employers under intense pressure to maintain a functioning workforce, whilst balancing costs with the wider business. Almost 75% of businesses have been affected by staff absences due Covid-19. With a shortage of staff, firms are finding it difficult to find cover for absent employees, spending more time and money doing so.

As well as staff taking time off, employers in the industry are facing a crisis with recruitment. More than 40% of those surveyed said that they have had problems filling vacant roles. Despite having more vacancies, employers are struggling to find the right candidates. The skills shortage is adding to the cost of staffing as searches take longer, and more time is spent interviewing and vetting applicants. Gill McAteer, head of employment law at Citation, said: “Covering absence and recruiting talent can be a costly process for employers, and what the construction industry is currently facing is unprecedented. The current skills shortage is meaning that added pressure is put on current employees, and with many of those having to take time off due to illness and isolation, businesses are paying the price.”