Budget 15: Ebbsfleet development corporation starts work next month

The new Ebbsfleet urban development corporation, announced last year to promote development of a new garden city in north Kent, is set to begin operations in April.

Secondary legislation will be laid later this month to establish the Ebbsfleet Urban Development Corporation (UDC) during April 2015.

The government has appointed a board of directors for Ebbsfleet UDC, which will now produce a business plan ahead of the next spending review. …

Budget 2015: Backing for house-building zones

The government has named its first ‘housing zones’ to ease the way for construction of up to 45,000 homes on brownfield sites.

Chancellor George Osborne said in his 2015 budget statement that the government was confirming the introduction of the first 20 housing zones, along with the extension of eight enterprise zones across Britain. There are also to be new zones in Plymouth and Blackpool.

Designation as a housing zone …

New office opens for Highways England

The new head office of Highways England has been officially opened by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Around 330 civil servants are moving from former Highways Agency premises in Dorking to new Highways England headquarters in Guildford.

Highways England said that the old offices needed refurbishing and Guildford has better road links than Dorking.

The Dorking building will now be sold.

Highways England takes over responsibility for managing England’s strategic road …

Skanska promotes UK sustainability director

Skanska’s UK sustainability chief has been promoted to global sustainability supremo for the whole Swedish group.

From 1st April Jennifer Clark becomes senior vice president, sustainability, for Skanska’s group-wide operations.

Ms Clark joined Skanska in 1999 as an environmental advisor, developing her career with Skanska UK to become director for environment in 2009, responsible for green and community investment across all UK operations.

She is credited with establishing Skanska as …

Wates recruits Balfour’s safety chief

Wates Group has appointed John Dunne from Balfour Beatty as its director of health & safety.

John Dunne has been tasked with changing the culture at Wates to make it an industry leader in safety. His specific remit is “to drive and embed behavioural change resulting in an industry-leading SHE performance”.

He will report to group production director John Howell.

Mr Dunne joins Wates from Balfour Beatty where he was …

We’re no hoarders, says Berkeley

Berkeley Group has rebutted the accusations of land hoarding that it anticipates will be made against housing developers in the forthcoming general election campaign.

Berkeley says that it is building on every site for which it has planning permission and providing work for thousands.

Labour Party policy is to nationalise any land that housing developers are to slow to build out. Labour leader Ed Milliband has famously said: “We’ll say …

Travis Perkins to open 400 more stores

Builders’ merchant group Travis Perkins is planning to invest up to £200m a year over the next four years to open 400 new branches across the UK.

The new branches will be supported by distribution facilities to be opened or extended in Warrington, Leeds, Northampton, Coventry, Cardiff and Tilbury.

Employee numbers are expected to rise from the current 24,000 to 28,000 by 2019. Store numbers will rise 20% from close …

Kier bin crews call off strikes

Strike action by refuse workers employed by Kier in East Sussex has been called off after progress was made with talks.

The GMB union, which represents the workers, said that it had called off the strike action scheduled for 19th and 20th of March and 25th, 26th and 27th of March for 154 of its members employed by Kier Environmental Services (formerly May Gurney) on refuse contracts in Hastings, Rother, …

Government woos north of England with transport promises

The government has announced a package of improvements to road links in northern England and is looking at rail options as well.

Rail networks are already expected to be transformed by the construction of the HS2 high speed link between London and Manchester/Leeds. The Department for Transport said that it will look at developing a new TransNorth rail service.

A new body is being set up called Transport for the …

New home for piling specialist

Piling contractor PJ Edwards (UK) is relocating from Doncaster to new premises in Scunthorpe.

PJ Edwards has bought the former City Link depot in Scunthorpe, which has enough space for offices and a plant yard big enough to store the entire fleet in one place.

Managing director Martin Kenwright said: “The move from leased premises to owning our own buildings has been part of our overall business strategy for some …