Scape Group

Construction output suffers biggest quarterly decrease in six years

Construction output in the UK has continued its recent decline falling by 2.7% in March 2018 on a three-month on three-month basis.

Figures published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest that the decrease, the biggest fall seen in this series since August 2012, was driven by falls in both repair and maintenance, and new work, which fell 2.8% and 2.6% respectively.

Following several months of consistently strong growth, private housing also experienced a slowdown in March 2018, contracting in the three-month on three-month series by 1.6%.

Construction output also fell in the month-on-month series, contracting by 2.3% in March 2018.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the adverse weather conditions during February and March could have potentially contributed to the decline in construction output, although it is difficult to quantify the exact impact on the industry, the ONS said.

The estimate for construction growth in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2018 has been revised up 0.6 percentage points to negative 2.7%, from negative 3.3% in the preliminary estimate of gross domestic product (GDP), which has no impact on quarterly GDP growth to one decimal place.

Responding to the figures, Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, said the industry has a lot of catching up to do if it is to meet targets for this year, whatever the weather.

He said: “Today’s ONS construction data shows that the industry continued to struggle in March, as the unseasonal weather impacted the speed of project delivery and new work commencing. However, we can expect the data to pick up following the CIPS/Markit announcement last week, which shows that activity rebounded in April.

“Over the past decade the UK has benefited from the government’s strong and unwavering commitment to infrastructure investment across the country, and this momentum must continue as we swim in to more austere waters, and edge closer to our exit from the EU. Taking bold decisions now will benefit local communities in the years ahead.

“It is very positive to see that private residential building increased by £6 million on the year – but this growth is still not anywhere near the levels needed to meet housebuilding targets. It is clear that the government needs to think more creatively about housing delivery. A combined effort between the public and private sectors is vital and government needs to equip local authorities with the funding powers to make a real difference in meeting housing need.”

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building, added: “While disappointing, these figures come at a period where the housebuilding sector is traditionally at its most productive, with the longer, drier days supporting increased work on the ground.  Furthermore, we’re seeing strong demand for modern and affordable housing across the country and I would expect this trend to continue.

“The ongoing skills shortage remains a crucial challenge for this sector. Without skilled labour we cannot increase output to the levels needed to tackle issues such as the housing gap.

“At Cruden we are proactively addressing this and are currently recruiting this year’s intake of around 15 apprentices across a variety of trades and skills through our Cruden Academy.  These direct apprentices will become part of our 90 strong team of apprentices that we train every year across the group.”

£3.2m innovation campus in North Ayrshire completes

Annickbank Innovation Campus

Robertson Group has completed work on a major innovation campus in Ayrshire which aims to support businesses across the region.

The second phase of Annickbank Innovation Campus in Irvine was delivered as part of a £3.2 million project for North Ayrshire Council, with two Robertson businesses integral to its success.

Robertson Central West served as the main contractor, building two multi-storey office blocks on schedule. Robertson Civil Engineering delivered the foundations, slabs and supporting infrastructure to the site, having already worked extensively in the wider i3 Enterprise Area.

The project was procured through Scape Group’s National Major Works framework, now superseded by the Major Works Scotland part of the (Scape) National Construction framework, and delivered by Robertson in partnership with Willmott Dixon.

Ed Parry, managing director, Robertson Central West, said: “We have worked closely with our colleagues in Robertson Civil Engineering on this project, with that joined-up approach crucial to ensuring the work was completed on schedule and to the highest quality.

“The pavilions we have built are truly best in class and they are flexible enough to serve the needs of future tenants regardless of sector. North Ayrshire Council is determined to attract even more businesses to the area and the quality of this campus gives them the ability to do just that.”

In the first phase at Annickbank Innovation Campus, two units were built and completed in June 2014. Both units were then sold to major businesses who continue to operate from them.

Irvine’s Enterprise Area, i3, offers major benefits for relocating businesses and has led to the creation of modern commercial property throughout the region.

Councillor Alex Gallagher, cabinet member for economy, North Ayrshire Council, said: “We are ambitious in our plans to make North Ayrshire and i3 a key Life Science business destination.

“i3 is the largest Life Sciences Enterprise Area in Scotland and is the perfect base for new and growing companies from a variety of sectors, with the land and infrastructure to facilitate and support long-term growth. We are excited and confident that we will secure new tenants for these fantastic facilities and look forward to further development of this strategically important site.”

Victoria Brambini, managing director of Scape Procure, said: “It is fantastic to see Robertson complete Annickbank Innovation Campus, providing much needed modern commercial property space for innovative and growing businesses in the local area.

“Our frameworks foster a collaborative approach between contractors which delivers cost efficient high quality projects, whilst also creating social value, for example through training opportunities for local people and support for businesses and SMEs across the region.”

Construction output contracts for sixth consecutive period

crane-stockOutput in the UK construction sector has contracted for the sixth consecutive three-month period, falling by 1.4% in October, new figures have revealed.

Output in the Construction Industry statistics, released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), found that the three-month on three-month fall in output stemmed from falls in both repair and maintenance, and all new work, which fell by 3% and 0.6% respectively.

Construction output also contracted month-on-month in October 2017, decreasing 1.7%, in part due to a 1.5% fall in all new work.

On a positive note, new orders saw record growth in Quarter 3 (July to September) 2017, growing by 37.4% compared with the previous quarter. The record growth was driven predominantly by growth in the infrastructure sector, caused by the awarding of several high-value new orders relating to High Speed 2 (HS2).

Housing new orders also grew in Quarter 3 2017, increasing by 9.5%, recovering from a fall of 4.2% in the previous quarter.

Blane Perrotton, managing director of the national property consultancy and surveyors Naismiths, said: “What began as a cooling is fast turning into a deep freeze. The loss of momentum has caused the construction sector to suffer its sharpest fall in quarterly output for more than five years – and this is eroding confidence too.

“The picture is especially bleak on the commercial property side. Months of false dawns on Brexit negotiations have whittled away confidence and left many businesses feeling punchdrunk.

“Against a backdrop of seemingly perpetual flux, businesses have understandably postponed big investment decisions, and we’re regularly seeing larger companies activate Brexit contingency plans and smaller firms mothball plans to scale up their premises.

“Even residential construction – so long the industry’s star performer – declined, revealing the scale of the task facing the government as it seeks to stimulate a wave of new housebuilding.

“Nevertheless there are some bright spots. On the front line we’re seeing consistent appetite among developers to convert office buildings into residential units under the extended and popular Permitted Development Rights.

“November’s increase in interest rates has yet to fully filter through and developers are still finding funds available. But finance is increasingly coming from the challenger, rather than high street, banks.

“This greater caution among the mainstream lenders is likely to set the tone for the industry as a whole as 2017 limps across the line.

“Last night’s Brexit deal may have unblocked the negotiations for now, but as long as confidence and clarity are lacking, the construction industry will continue to make halting progress at best.”

Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, added: “After almost a year of slower growth in a climate of uncertainty the industry could now be turning a corner. Although output was down again in October, a record boost in new orders in Q3 means a strong pipeline of new work. Infrastructure and particularly HS2 activity has been the key driver of this increase, with potential benefits for the whole supply chain along the first phase of the route.

“Infrastructure investment provides long term certainty and stability for both the economy and the industry, but the government should work with the National Infrastructure Commission to ensure a joined-up approach on delivery. The pipeline of new projects must be undertaken in a sustainable way, avoiding peaks and troughs, to help to ensure capacity and alleviate pressures on the availability of skills.

“Now that the government has made some significant progress on Brexit negotiations and can move on to trade talks, the underlying economic uncertainty around Brexit will also begin to be addressed.”

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan

North of the Border, Allan Callaghan, managing director at Cruden Building, said the recently published Planning Bill needs to provide a catalyst for the growing need for new homes.

He said: “Although construction output as a whole has fallen again this month, new orders for housing have grown and the demand for more housing across Scotland – both private and affordable homes, remains strong.

“Key to addressing this need will be investing in planning and other statutory approvals and having adequate resources from planning departments to deal with all applications, rather than stifling housing developments, leading to delays in construction companies starting on site.

“While the proposals unveiled in the Planning Bill have gone some way in moving in the right direction, the Bill simply doesn’t go far enough.  Local authorities are hugely under resourced and if we don’t have the right processes in place to speed up the system, this will threaten the scope of future development right across the country and exacerbate the problem for young people who are struggling get on the property ladder.”

Scape creates separate £400m Scottish lot within new £2bn civil engineering and infrastructure framework

Victoria Brambini

Victoria Brambini

Procurement partnership Scape Group has published details of its National Civil Engineering and Infrastructure framework, which includes the creation of a dedicated £400 million lot specifically for the public sector in Scotland.

Due to be re-procured in 2018, the second generation framework will deliver major civil engineering and infrastructure projects across the United Kingdom with an increased total value to £2 billion.

The increased value of the framework and its division into two lots responds to the growing pipeline of major infrastructure projects across the United Kingdom. The framework has been developed following engagement with local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and other public sector bodies across the country, as well as industry body the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA).

The Scape National Civil Engineering and Infrastructure framework will run for a period of four years from October 2018 and will include lots for:

  • England, Wales and Northern Ireland – total lot value of £1.6bn
  • Scotland – total lot value of £400m

Bidders are invited to tender either for individual lots or both lots, and the framework will also be open to consortium bids.

Scape’s Prior Information Notice (PIN) for the re-procurement of the framework will be published online on Friday 10th November 2017 via the Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) procurement platform. Details will also be available on the Scape Group website. Market awareness days will be held in Edinburgh and London in early December 2017 for prospective bidders.

An OJEU Contract Notice will be published in January 2018 with preferred bidders announced in October 2018. The new framework will allow the successful delivery partner(s) a three month mobilisation period to establish methods, processes and train teams, ready to engage with clients and take project enquiries as the current framework moves towards expiry at the end of January 2019.

Victoria Brambini, managing director of Scape Procure, said: “Across the United Kingdom there is a growing need for investment in infrastructure that is vital to unlocking long-term regional growth, bringing local economies closer together and ultimately strengthening communities. Greater connectivity for towns, cities and rural areas is vital in helping them to thrive, and local authorities are rightly ambitious for what can be achieved in their areas. The government has set out its plan to upgrade our national infrastructure, and our aspiration is to continue to provide a framework that allows time and cost certainty as well as delivering extensive social value for the public sector for every pound spent, including high levels of local spend, local employment and local apprenticeships.

“Our decision to create a separate lot for projects in Scotland reflects the clear commitment of the Scottish Government to further their investment in infrastructure in a way that supports the local economy. We know through our engagement with Scotland’s public bodies that there is real passion and drive to achieve social value with the benefits of investment passing deep into local supply chain businesses. Our mission is to maximise both efficiency and social value delivery for the Scottish public sector and the local communities they serve.

“Since January 2015, the National Civil Engineering and Infrastructure framework has been commissioned for almost 100 major projects across the UK and has delivered high levels of social value, including 82% of supply chain spend within 10 miles of projects, 70% local labour within 20 miles and 94% of suppliers to the framework partners being SMEs. We expect the new framework will deliver equally positive outcomes for the public sector and potentially increased impact.”

The current framework, led by Balfour Beatty and supported by an extensive local supply chain, was procured with an expected value range of between £1bn and £1.5bn and is on target, running until January 2019.

Prospective bidders can register their interest in attending Scape’s upcoming market awareness events for the Civil Engineering and Infrastructure framework by visiting

Robertson marks opening of green space in heart of Glasgow

Aerial_completion (3)The civil engineering business of infrastructure groups Robertson has celebrated the official opening of one of its biggest ever projects.

Glasgow’s new Cuningar Woodland Park was officially opened by transport minister Humza Yousaf on August 27, with members of the public making use of the urban outdoor space since earlier this summer.

Robertson Civil Engineering developed the Woodland Park on behalf of the Forest Enterprise Scotland in a project procured through Scape Group, the public sector procurement specialist National Major Works framework, superseded by Major Works – Scotland a part of the (Scape) National Construction framework.

In a separate project for Clyde Gateway, Robertson was also responsible for the construction of a purpose built bridge which connects the Woodland Park to the former Commonwealth Games’ athletes’ village. That work was won through a competitive tendering process.

Tony Fry, managing director of Robertson Civil Engineering, said: “A great deal of hard work went into this project and I’m incredibly proud of the result. While the public have already been thoroughly enjoying the park, the official opening ceremony was a special moment for myself and the team at Robertson Civil Engineering.

“This particular site posed a number of challenges, as it had previously been used as a quarry, illegal mine and for landfill. But all the efforts taken have been worth it, and the local people now have an outdoor space to be truly proud of. I’m sure it will become a cherished landmark – and thanks to the bridge, people will be able to access the park with ease.”

The Cuningar Loop Bridge

The Cuningar Loop Bridge

The former abandoned landfill site on the banks of River Clyde is now an active “woodland retreat” and is expected to welcome 120,000 visitors this year.

Cuningar Loop Woodland Park is 15 hectares and boasts biking and walking loops, adventure play areas and Scotland’s first outdoor bouldering facilities. The park creates a vibrant accessible greenspace for the communities in Dalmarnock and Rutherglen to enjoy.

The £9.3 million Commonwealth Games Legacy project has been managed by Forest Enterprise Scotland and Clyde Gateway, with the support of many partners.

Many years ago, the site was used for quarrying and mining before turning into a landfill site for rubble from the Gorbals demolition. To help green up the area, over 15,000 trees and shrubs have been planted.

Stuart Chalmers, forest district manager with Forest Enterprise Scotland, added: “We’re really pleased that Cuningar Loop has been such a big hit with local people. The emphasis has always been to make the park a welcoming and active place for all to visit.

“A key ingredient to this success has been working with community groups and partner organisations – something which we will build on for the future.”

Artists in residence Rob Mullholland and James Winnet helped bring the woodland park to life with sculptures and unique artwork.

Ian Manson, chief executive of Clyde Gateway, said: “For Clyde Gateway, this is regeneration. The quality and variety of facilities in the park are proving to be amazingly popular with local residents and those from further afield, with the visitor numbers up there with some of the best-known attractions in and around the city.”

(from left) Stuart Chalmers (Forest Enterprise Scotland), Tony Fry (Robertson Civil Engineering), Lynne Valentine (Clyde Gateway), Joneen Clarke (Forest Enterprise Scotland), Joe King (Robertson Civil Engineering), Henry Dempsey (Glasgow City Council), Trevor Graham (Pick Everard), Gary Porter (Robertson Civil Engineering) and Connell Mohan (Robertson Civil Engineering)

(from left) Stuart Chalmers (Forest Enterprise Scotland), Tony Fry (Robertson Civil Engineering), Lynne Valentine (Clyde Gateway), Joneen Clarke (Forest Enterprise Scotland), Joe King (Robertson Civil Engineering), Henry Dempsey (Glasgow City Council), Trevor Graham (Pick Everard), Gary Porter (Robertson Civil Engineering) and Connell Mohan (Robertson Civil Engineering)

Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, added: “It is great to see such fantastic collaboration between Robertson, Clyde Gateway and Forest Enterprise Scotland to deliver new outdoor facilities for the local community.

“By using the Scape National Major Works framework, the local council ensured the project was not only delivered in the most cost effective way, but also contributed to the local economy by using local suppliers and providing employment opportunities for local people.”

Cuningar Loop Woodland Park forms a key part of the wider economic regeneration of the Glasgow and South Lanarkshire area. It is one of 14 Commonwealth Woodlands around Glasgow.

The park’s development is also part of the Scottish Government’s Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) project which is boosting economic regeneration and making the central belt a more attractive place to live in, do business and visit.

Highland schools warm to new biomass boilers

The completed biomass plant at Bonar Bridge Primary School, Sutherland

The completed biomass plant at Bonar Bridge Primary School, Sutherland

A swathe of Highland schools are set for a warm winter after state-of-the-art biomass boilers were fitted to keep pupils warm throughout their studies.

Procured through the Scape National Major Works framework, Robertson Northern has completed work at 10 schools across the Highland Council area as part of a £6.9 million project to reduce heating bills and make schools more comfortable during the colder months.

The last school to be upgraded with biomass heating systems, which generate renewable and sustainable energy, was Edderton, with all schools ready to use the new equipment ahead of the new school term.

Celebrating the installation of the new heating systems, Councillor Allan Henderson, chair of the Highland Council’s places committee, said: “We have a responsibility as a major public body and employer to create a greener healthier future. We are also committed to reducing energy costs and making greater use of renewable energy technology so it’s great news that Robertson Northern has completed this work.

“By making the switch, not only are we providing a cost-effective cleaner, greener energy alternative to more traditional heating methods but we are also cutting emissions, which is good news for the environment.

“It’s a win-win situation as staff and pupils will benefit from having an improved environment to work in and they will also notice significant reductions in the running costs for their schools.”

Frank Reid, regional managing director of Robertson Northern, said: “Installing these biomass boilers will bring fantastic benefits to the schools and its pupils by providing a comfortable and warm environment to learn.

“It’s great, as a local Highland business, to be able to complete these projects well ahead of the colder winter months, giving the schools peace of mind that a modern, efficient and affordable system is in place to tide them through the cold winters ahead.”

Completion of the project marks the end of a four year project to install energy efficient heating at 30 schools across the Highland Council estate, with some community centres and swimming pools also benefiting from an upgrade of shared systems.

Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, added: “It is vital that students are able to study and develop their skills in the best possible learning environment. It is fantastic to see the great work Robertson Northern and Highland Council are doing to ensure schools across the region benefit from sustainable and energy efficient heating systems.

“Working collaboratively through our National Major Works framework, both Robertson and Highland Council have proven that investment in high quality school buildings is not reserved for big cities, and that it is possible to deliver fantastic facilities in every community, including those in more rural parts of the country.”

McLaughlin & Harvey named Wates subcontractor on Scape framework

McLaughlin & HarveyWates has appointed McLaughlin & Harvey as a subcontractor to the Scape Major Works UK Framework.

The Major Works UK Framework is designed to deliver construction projects between £10 million and £50m and the potential construction pipeline over the four-year duration of the framework is estimated to be between £1.5 and £2 billion.

Wates was appointed by Scape in April this year as a lead contractor on one of its five lots of the new Scape National Construction framework.

McLaughlin & Harvey will deliver projects in Scotland and Northern Ireland and will support Wates with its projects in England.

This framework has been designed to deliver construction projects across the entirety of the United Kingdom, supported by an extensive local supply chain.

McLaughlin & Harvey’s Scape Team will be led by framework directors Robbie Clark in Scotland and Gary Bell in Northern Ireland. Robbie and Gary will jointly support any projects in England in conjunction with the Wates Scape Team.

In addition to producing visually impressive, efficient to run and highly functional buildings, this framework has been configured to deliver significant levels of local economic engagement, ongoing apprenticeship schemes and extensive community initiatives.

Services delivered to McLaughlin & Harvey’s public sector clients will include:

  • Risk Management
  • Buildability Advice
  • Project Management
  • Site Surveys
  • Site Logistics and Planning
  • Design and Build
  • Local Supply Chain Management
  • Health and Safety Advice
  • Client and Community Engagement
  • Local Training and Employment
  • Post Occupancy Support

McLaughlin & Harvey’s managing director, Philip Cheevers, said, “This is a major boost to our Business throughout the UK but in particular our operations in Scotland and Northern Ireland where we already undertake major projects for the public sector. We look forward to engaging with and supporting our colleagues in the Public Sector on their capital spending programmes and we are committed to helping them ensure social value and community benefits flow from this capital investment.”

Robertson completes work at Edinburgh Seafield Depot

David Cairns

David Cairns

Robertson has completed a £4.6 million project at the capital’s Seafield Depot that will provide welfare accommodation and refuse vehicle parking for the City of Edinburgh Council.

Procured through Scape Group’s National Major Works framework, Robertson Central built a two-storey modular welfare block, a steel-framed vehicle building and 34 canopy bays.

Robertson Civil Engineering also played a significant role in the project, and was responsible for the removal of previous infrastructure and the creation of new drainage and infrastructure.

David Cairns, managing director at Robertson Central, said: “Together with our colleagues in our civil engineering business, we delivered work of the highest quality and the refreshed depot will meet the needs of the Council. This is one of a number of projects we are delivering in Edinburgh through Scape’s Major Works framework, all of which are helping to bring real benefits to the city.”

Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, added: “It is important that facilities such as these are built and maintained to the best possible standard to allow the council to operate efficiently, which is why it is great to see this project come to fruition. The fantastic work being produced between Robertson and the City of Edinburgh Council is testament to the strong relationship they have established and I look forward to seeing the results unfold from the other projects currently underway across Edinburgh.”

Sir Robert McAlpine secures role on University of Edinburgh’s Quartermile project

University of Edinburgh QuartermileSir Robert McAlpine is to carry out enabling works for the University of Edinburgh on its project to transform the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary into a major educational hub.

A change of use and restoration application to extend the A-listed surgical building to provide teaching and learning spaces, a major new public event space, library and cafe and bar was submitted by the University last week.

Now the Construction Enquirer has reported that Sir Robert McAlpine has scooped the main enabling works with a £3.6 million bid.

Enabling works will consist of asbestos removal, full trip of finishes and services back to structure, roofing repairs and demolition of original foundations and cellars in parts of the building complex.

The University plans to restore and extend the existing buildings to form a wide range of teaching and learning spaces under plans drawn up by architect Bennetts Associates.

The architects intend to optimise conservation of key features of the 19th century building including the retention and restoration of the stone walls, slate roofs and entrance hall.

New four-storey “infill buildings” will be constructed in the two courtyards between the east and west hospital wards and will provide space for lecture halls and teaching spaces.

Developers will also remove the existing gatehouse directly in front of the main entrance on Lauriston Place to make way for a new entrance square.

Project and programme management consultancy, Faithful+Gould is leading the redevelopment of the project at Lauriston Place, supported by structural engineer Will Rudd Davidson and Atkins’ Glasgow office as services engineer, with investment from built environment specialist Scape Group.

If approved, work could start by 2018 and be ready for occupation by 2021.

Robertson to start on first building at new Glasgow business district

Red Tree ShawfieldBuilding work by Robertson Group is set to get underway at Glasgow’s new satellite business district after project costs for the development’s first building were approved by the board of Clyde Gateway.

The largest office development with planning consent in Scotland, Magenta will comprise 1.2 million square feet of office space set on the 27-acre former Shawfield industrial estate, next to the River Clyde just ten minutes from Glasgow’s city centre.

The first building on the site will be Red Tree Shawfield, a 3,780sqm Grade A office building that will provide business suites ranging in size from 10 to 168 sq m, aimed at encouraging the growth of SMEs and creating local employment opportunities.

It is expected that Red Tree will create around 250 new jobs and will be complete by summer 2018. This will be the third Red Tree business incubator in the Clyde Gateway area, with two already in place at Rutherglen and Bridgeton.

The project is procured through Scape Group’s National Major Works framework.

The building, designed by architects NORR and to be delivered by Robertson, aims to attract businesses in target sectors such as media, communications, IT, training and engineering. It will benefit from superfast broadband and offer up to a gigabit of bandwidth. As well as the business suites, the building will also feature a conference room, meeting rooms, breakout spaces, kitchen areas, a café and a 70-space car park.

Ian Manson, chief executive at Clyde Gateway, said: “Our Red Tree brand has proven to be very successful with the two existing office blocks operating at full capacity. This £9 million investment in a four-storey block marks the beginning of what will be a remarkable and eye-catching transformation of Shawfield and will be the first building at Magenta, the satellite business district that we launched last year with Highbridge Properties.

“The many companies who have already made Clyde Gateway their home are seeing first-hand why this area is such a fantastic location to do business and an attractive proposition for investment. We are seeing continuing demand for cost-effective, high-quality business suites that offer flexibility, modern amenities, excellent transport links and first-class digital connectivity, and Red Tree Shawfield ticks all those boxes.”

Adrian Hill, consultant at Highbridge Properties PLC, Clyde Gateway’s development partner for Magenta, said: “To have the first building confirmed for Magenta is a significant milestone for the project, which will eventually become one of the UK’s largest office parks and bring 12,000 jobs to the area.

“The location of Magenta is outstanding – just ten minutes from the city centre, 15 minutes from Glasgow Airport, two minutes from the M74, and with ample parking available on site. This, along with the superb infrastructure and value for money, is why it such a compelling option for businesses.”