Landmark hosts pre-election webinar: what the manifestos say about brownfield land, urban development and housing
Monday 9th December – 1PM-2PM

Landmark Information, the leading provider of information to the UK property market, is hosting a special pre-election webinar to compare the major political party manifestos regarding brownfield development, urban development and housing.

The webinar, which is being led by Chartered Geologist and SiLC Paul Nathanail, aims to prepare delegates for the challenges and opportunities the new Government will pose.  The webinar will take place on Monday 9th December at 1:00pm, and will compare all major political party manifestos to determine what the future of property development, redevelopment, planning and housing may look like, with a focus on brownfield land-related pledges.

Paul, who is the Managing Director of Land Quality Management Ltd and also chairs his local Neighbourhood Forum, will also discuss what has changed in relation to Previously Developed Land (PDL) since the 2017 General Election.

Confirms Paul Nathanail: “The major political parties agree that we need to build more homes across the country but many local authorities are struggling to meet their housing targets over the next decade to ensure enough affordable houses are delivered. The Landmark webinar is an ideal opportunity to fully understand what each manifesto means in terms of their commitment to brownfield development.”

Adds Chris Loaring, Managing Director (Legal), Landmark Information: “By hosting the free webinar, we’re providing a plain-speaking, clear interpretation of all political party’s plans with regards to brownfield redevelopment. Brownfield sites will play a big part of the changing urban landscape, to reflect societal needs, and so it’s important to understand policies for the next five years and beyond.”

To register for the webinar, visit   Or for further information on Landmark Information, visit

By Alan Harrison, Digital Sales Manager at Protrade

Almost every industry has been impacted by modern technology but certain sectors like construction are yet to fully realise the potential of these advances.

It is expected that over the coming years, technology can help the UK’s construction industry overcome a number of challenges it is grappling with; from skills shortages to increased demand.

The skills shortage looks set to worsen as the current workforce is ageing without new talent to replace it. According to a report from The Chartered Institute of Building, over 50s currently make up 22% of construction workers in the UK and 15% are in their 60s.

They are under pressure to be more productive due to the rise of urbanisation, which is creating greater demand for houses, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure. There are currently £650 billion worth of projects planned under the national infrastructure programme.

Last year, the business and industry minister announced a £72 million investment to help modernise the construction industry with virtual reality, digital design and offsite manufacturing technologies.

In this article, Protrade takes a look at and discusses just some of the ways technology can help ease the burden for construction and make the industry more productive.

Improved efficiency

Technology like Building Information Modelling (BIM) is already being used to plan projects more efficiently, and now augmented reality and virtual reality can be used to provide even more accuracy. Using technology to simulate the environment you’ll be working in can help reduce errors and increase safety.

While the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology can analyse data from past projects to help provide more accurate estimates for completion dates and costs.

Technology also helps ease the burden when carrying out reporting because analytics can help visualise and make sense of raw data without having to do complex mathematical calculations yourself. This can be particularly informative when it comes to providing insights into potential problems which might not be immediately obvious. For example, it can help work out where waste is occurring and whether materials are being used efficiently.

Although not a new concept, Bluetooth connectivity is increasingly being incorporated within power tools such as digital laser measurers and cordless tools such as dust extractors. Not only does Bluetooth connectivity enhance efficiency in ways such as allowing workers to cut the time spent measuring dimensions in half, it also allows increased accuracy.

Investing in innovative technology and modern power tools can have large upfront costs, but the opportunity for return on investment and increased productivity is worth it.

Better collaboration and communication

Large and complex construction projects are notorious for being delivered late and over budget for a number of reasons but one of the obvious challenges they face is ensuring effective communication.

Here technology offers a myriad of solutions that can help make it easier for different experts to collaborate. From architects and contractors to plumbers and electricians, everyone can make use of technology to aid communication.

Cloud technology, for example, makes it easier to share information even when you are not physically in the same location. Real-time data can be shared so everyone has access to the latest information which can help avoid unnecessary delays.

Pictures and videos can be shared with those working off-site and because these can be accessed from various devices, they can be viewed even when you are on the move.

This makes it easier for contractors and project managers to monitor progress remotely. Project managers can now use software to help them automate the more repetitive tasks involved in planning and reporting.

In fact, one of the great benefits of technology is that it can automate laborious tasks so workers have more time to focus on more vital aspects of their job. This includes filling in timesheets and filing expenses. When you are under pressure to deliver a project on time, it can be frustrating to spend hours on record keeping and dealing with documentation. Using technology can speed up such mundane but essential work.

Robots can also be used to help with other repetitive tasks like brick laying, so workers’ skills can be used more effectively for aspects of the work that need human supervision.

Reduced costs

As well as analysing project costs, technology can be used to save money by making sure tools are kept safe.

Construction involves using expensive machinery and tools which can be costly to replace if they go missing. Tool tracking software and stock inventory management can help make sure you don’t lose sight of such equipment and can always keep a tab on its location.

Such software works by attaching sensors to tools and materials which can also be used to track how equipment moves throughout the day. This information can then be used to work out where best to store equipment to make sure it is always on hand when needed.

Enhanced safety

There’s no getting away from the fact that construction can be a dangerous industry to work in and safety is of paramount importance and one aspect that often goes overlooked is how technology can be leveraged to improve construction site safety.

Projects can be stalled or set back if safety is a concern which is why using technology to safeguard workers is a no brainer.

Augmented reality and virtual reality can be used to train workers in an environment that gives a much more realistic depiction of the hazards they may encounter.

Wearable technology is making it easier to monitor safety on site and identify when working practices could be dangerous. Such technology can give feedback on improving posture for example. Or, it could alert workers when they have entered a dangerous zone. This can help prevent common injuries caused by slipping or tripping.

Smart clothing, or e-textiles, that can monitor vital signs like respiration rate, skin temperature, and heart rate will also make their way to the construction site. These wearables will be able to monitor a worker’s posture, track movements, determine if they are suffering from fatigue and whether they are intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics. Keeping a watchful eye on workers can help predict an accident before it occurs.

Drones are also being used to enhance safety on construction sites as they can help provide pictures from construction sites which can be compared to BIM models to work out progress and check for accuracy.

Drones can also assist in conducting jobsite inspections and identify potential hazards each day as well as monitor workers throughout the day to ensure everyone is working safely.

Final thoughts

Given the pressure the construction industry is under, it is clear that changes need to be made. Taking advantage of new technology is therefore essential to remaining competitive because it can help tackle many of the issues being faced.


Source: Business News Wales


The construction industry’s first artificial intelligence (AI) concrete strength prediction engine, used in the London City Airport expansion, is to be used across more live projects.

Built by Converge in collaboration with BAM Nuttall, the engine monitors and predicts material performance. Within hours of concrete being poured, the engine can predict the time a critical strength will be reached, several days in advance. It was developed using funding from an Innovate UK grant, awarded in 2018.

BAM Nuttall head of innovation Colin Evison said: “This advancement in construction technology is a game changer. The Converge prediction engine gives us insight into material performance we didn’t think possible. We are delighted to be Converge’s industry partner in bringing this exciting new tool to market.”

A spokesperson added: “Converge and BAM Nuttall are excited by the results at London City Airport and are securing other opportunities to use this technology on live projects.”

Converge’s real-time strength data enables construction companies to drive onsite efficiency and shorten concrete cycles. However, a customer survey revealed that often resulting actions weren’t being taken until hours after critical strengths were reached.

Converge product lead Sam Ellenby added: “Our users were waiting for concrete to hit a critical strength before scheduling the next activity, but this often meant that the site teams needed to strike formwork or tension the slab were deployed in other areas when the time came to act. Thus, critical actions were frequently delayed.”

Ellenby explained that Converge’s strength prediction engine aims to combat inefficiency and lost time by predicting the time a critical strength will be reached several days in advance.

A combination of local weather data, a database of historical concrete curing data and the concrete monitoring platform’s real-time measurements from the pour enables the critical strength prediction, with an accuracy of +/- 5%.

This allows teams to act precisely when needed, with the improved productivity keeping projects on track and potentially saving millions of pounds.


Source: New Civil Engineer

A shocking investigation undertaken by BBC Watchdog Live recently revealed that a number of new build homes built by developers Persimmon and Bellway Homes are not adequately fire safe. Joe Bradbury of investigates:


The Grenfell tragedy


Fire safety has become the hot topic of debate over the last few years, and rightfully so. The horrific fire that broke out in 24-storey Grenfell Tower in 2017 has brought it to the forefront of our attention, having caused 72 deaths and injured a further 70 others. It is considered the deadliest structural fire in the United Kingdom since the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster and the worst UK residential fire since the Second World War. Negligence is now being sniffed out throughout the construction industry and those responsible are being held to account.


The fire was ignited by a malfunctioning fridge-freezer located on the fourth floor. Once the fire had taken hold it spread rapidly up the building’s exterior to all the residential floors. For many, the image of the tower engulfed in flame will be painfully etched in memory for many years to come.


Notre Dame


Fire struck again in world media on the 15th April this year, with newspapers, TV screens, phones and tablets sharing apocalyptic, images of Notre Dame aflame in Paris.


Crucial renovation and restoration works were underway when an electrical short circuit happened, resulting in the roof of Notre-Dame catching fire and burning for approximately 15 hours, before being extinguished; during which time the cathedral received immense damage.


Thankfully, no one was killed. The injuries sustained were largely cultural, with Notre Dame being arguably one of man’s finest architectural achievements.


Fire in figures


There were 558,963 incidents attended by the UK Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) last year. Of these incidents, around 161,770 were fires. These fires resulted in 261 fatalities and 7,081 non-fatal casualties. To put that into context – for every million people in England, there were 4.7 fire-related fatalities.


Unfortunately, fires happen… and their impact can be devastating. With this in mind, it comes as a great shock to hear that many new-builds constructed by two of the largest housebuilding firms were sold last year with missing or incorrectly installed fire barriers, which functions to prohibit the spread of fire throughout a property.


Is your new build safe?


In April 2018 a fire was started by a cigarette dropped at ground level in a Persimmon-built home in Exeter. It spread up to the roof of the house and then across to other properties nearby.


This fire sparked an investigation which found missing fire barriers at 37% of homes on the Greenacres estate, where the fire had taken place. This initiated wider investigation of thousands of homes throughout the South West, where over 650 homes were found to have missing or incorrectly installed fire barriers. The investigation continues and some of those affected are yet to be rectified; many houses are still awaiting inspection.


Since the issues in the South West became known last year, Persimmon have written to 3200 home owners in the region and created a dedicated team to carry out inspections in a prompt manner.


Thus far, 2700 homes have been inspected, and remedial work has been carried out at 679 properties. The company said sample checks were also being conducted nationwide. A spokesperson for Persimmon said “this should not have happened and we would like to apologise to all affected homeowners and assure them that we are doing everything we can to rectify the issue swiftly.”


The BBC investigation also uncovered potentially dangerous fire safety issues in developments in Kent and West Lothian built by Bellway Homes.


BBC Watchdog Live sent their own expert surveyor to a new build Bellway Homes development in West Lothian, to examine the fire protection at four houses, after concerns were raised by one resident whose house had previously been found to have inadequate fire barriers.


According to an article on the BBC website, surveyor and expert witness Greig Adams, who carried out the testing, found poorly fitted fire barriers at all four properties, with voids and gaps around them that would prevent them stopping fire from spreading. He said “What we’ve unfortunately found is that there are fire breach issues in every house we’ve looked at. It’s a legal requirement that the cavity barriers are to be there. It’s not optional – and with good reason: it saves lives.”


Bellway Homes have stated that they are “committed to improvement”.


In summary


Law dictates that new build homes must implement adequate fire protection measures which meet current Building Regulations to delay the spread of fire for as long as possible to maximise chances of escape for occupants.


The unsung heroes of a project, fire barriers are an integral part of a fire protection strategy and in many new builds (particularly timber-framed buildings) the barriers form a seal between different areas of a house. Without them, experts suggest that fire and smoke can spread five to ten times faster.


It is therefore of the utmost importance that housebuilders uphold their responsibility, ensuring that all new buildings are fully compliant with current Building Regulations. It’s a matter of life and death.


MTX are pleased to announce that we have won the Building Better Healthcare Award for Best Modular/Mobile Healthcare Facility for our orthopaedic operating theatre, delivered to Guy’s Hospital London.


Working collaboratively with Johnson & Johnson Managed Service, part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, early engagement allowed us to demonstrate value, safety, speed and efficiency benefits for a hybrid modular based approach to the new theatre suite.


Through use of BIM visualisations and closely engaging with the stakeholders, including patients, staff and FM team, a fit for purpose and functional modular design was developed.

The offsite pre-fabricated units provided 850m² of new space over 2 storeys, with seamless access

into the existing hospital at theatre suite level, blending current department activity and new operating facilities across different buildings and functions. Due to the offsite factor, the onsite activities were minimised which significantly reduced disruption to the hospital. This in turn decreased onsite trades, vehicle movements and waste, subsequently lessening the impact our activities have on the environment.


Due to the busy and congested streets of London and the 24 hour nature of the hospital, the modular lift had to take place out of normal working hours. This was programmed over a single weekend and the entire building was installed through a 48 hour continuous shift, minimising impact on operations and neighbours as well as reducing risks and accelerating programme.


The Building Better Healthcare judges spoke highly of the entry, paying particular praise to the time sensitive element of the delivery.


They said; ‘4.5 million people are on NHS waiting lists and there is not a hope of dealing with them as we do not have enough anaesthetists or capacity so something like this can help address that and is a very exciting thing. It was a challenging site and they got it done very quickly. This meets a very real demand for sure.’


You can view the case study in full here: CLICK

Labour are about to announce their apprenticeship plans should the forth coming election hand them the reins to steer the countries policies.

Labour say they will:


  • Train an average of 80,000 people per year, with that training having a strong green bias consisting of engineers and technicians in renewable energy and transport, civil engineers and skilled tradespeople in sustainable construction, designers, welders and fabricators in low carbon industries, and sustainable agriculture and forestry specialists
  • Fund these aims by diverting 25% of the funds employers already set aside through the Apprenticeship Levy.
  • Top the fund up with any dividends over the cap paid into Labour’s Inclusive Ownership Funds, which the party said is expected to be £700 million by 2024.  (Clive Zietman commented on the  Ownership fund in September)
  • Give employers more flexibility in how they spend their levy funds, and among reforms are allowing levy funds to be redeemed for a wider range of accredited training and extending the period of time allowed for employers to spend their levy.
  • Increase the amount of money businesses are allowed to transfer to non-levy paying small and medium-sized businesses.


The Apprenticeship levy was introduced in 2016, conversely since then apprenticeship’s have fallen year on year and at the close of the fiscal year in March 19 apprenticeship start ups were 50% less than those achieved in 2011/12.

The general consensus being that the scheme has failed.

Speaking in March Kirstie Donnelly, managing director at City & Guilds Group, commented that their were two main concerns: “Firstly, it appears that the apprenticeship budget set by the Treasury fell well below the amount of levy money collected by HMRC, meaning the government would never have been able to fulfill its promised apprenticeship funding for employers.

“Secondly, we can see that around 90% of the, already less-than-adequate, apprenticeship budget has not been available for employers to spend as they choose, despite that being the key reason behind the levy.

She said the government must be clear with employers about what their levy is actually covering and suggested that the money should be ringfenced so that it can only be spent on new apprenticeships or support for companies wanting to offer them.

“In light of these findings and the fact that our own research shows 95% of levy-paying employers were not able to spend their full allowance in the first year, we are calling on the government to increase flexibility and provide clarity around the apprenticeship system. Apprenticeships are key to unlocking the economic and social prosperity of our country and without the full trust and support of government, we will find it difficult to be able to reap the benefits they offer.”

Meanwhile reflecting on the plan to introduce the ‘inclusive ownership fund’ Business lobby groups have branded the Labour proposal “draconian” and warned of lost investment in the country. Because the policy would not work for foreign-owned firms, they warn it could encourage major British firms to move their stock exchange listing overseas. They also warn the complicated nature of the policy would encourage firms to seek loopholes in any employee ownership regime.

Tom Ironside of the British Retail Consortium warned the policy could act as an indirect tax on companies, given that the proposed model would result in excess funds flowing to the Treasury.

What seems clear is that the country has a desperate skill shortage and regardless of who makes the raft of policies that are meant to address the problem, we draw no closer to actually solving it.

The Government-commissioned review into HS2 has been accused of being ‘misleading and dishonest’ by its deputy chairman who launched a scathing attack on its report.

Lord Berkeley said he has “serious problems with its lack of balance” and declared that he “cannot support its conclusions or recommendations”.

A leaked draft of a report produced by the review recommended that the high-speed railway should be built in full despite soaring costs, The Times reported on Tuesday.

Lord Berkeley raised a series of concerns in a letter to former HS2 Ltd chairman Doug Oakervee, who was appointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to lead the review.

He complained about the “unquestioning acceptance of information” provided by HS2 Ltd and the “failure to scrutinise” the involvement of the Department for Transport and the Treasury in how the project was developed.



Lord Berkeley claimed there was a “trend in many of the discussions within the review to accept that HS2 will go ahead”, rather than considering the merits of other options.

He also suggested that the review should accept the cost figure of £103 billion provided by consultant Michael Byng, rather than HS2 Ltd’s latest estimate of £88 billion.

The Labour peer expects the project to provide less than £1 in benefits for every £1 spent.

Artist’s impression for the new ‘Birmingham Interchange’ HS2 station in Solihull.

“This may not be the answer that the review wants, but nevertheless it is a very likely outcome,” he wrote. “I suggest that to omit this is misleading and dishonest.”

The transport expert added that he reserves the right to publish his own “alternative report”.

The draft report warned that “large ticket price rises” will be needed to discourage peak-time travel unless HS2 is built, according to The Times.

It found that the railway could boost cities in the North and Midlands more than London due to better connections on intercity routes. It also claimed there are no “shovel-ready” alternative schemes to raise capacity on the existing railway.

The review was due to be completed this autumn, although a decision on the future of HS2 will not be taken until after the General Election.

Phase 1 of HS2 is planned to run between London and Birmingham. It was initially planned to launch in 2026, but a recent report by HS2 Ltd stated that this could be pushed back until 2031.

Current designs involve a second Y-shaped phase launching in two stages: Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe followed by phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester, and Birmingham to Leeds.


Source: Birmingham Live

The leading trade body representing builders has called on the construction sector and any future government, to act now if they are to meet the 2050 zero carbon target. With construction directly influencing 47% of UK carbon emissions and 61% of UK waste, the sector is a critical part of the radical change needed.

The National Federation of Builders’ (NFB) major contractors group (MCG) launched its Transforming Construction for a Low Carbon Future report,warning that the construction industry must be transformed within a generation, otherwise it will have failed the country and the government will fail in its zero carbon ambitions.

Speaking at the launch, NFB’s chairman, Nick Sangwin, said, “This report is not a document to sit on shelves gathering dust, it is designed to galvanise the sector into action, to see the opportunities and to lead the way towards zero carbon by 2050. It is critical that those within the construction sector are stepping forward and implementing a real step-change in the way they do business.”

Mark Wakeford, Chair of the NFB’s MCG, commented: “The year 2050 might seem a long time away but it’s really not much time to radically change our industry. We must start now and the government, in whatever guise they return, must lead the way and make this a firm priority post-election. Anyone still operating the same way as they are today in 20 years time will be lucky to still be in business. There are no excuses – government, contractors, the supply chain, manufacturers, designers and the trades must all embrace the challenge now, as highlighted in our recommendations.

“To make this happen, domestic housing requires a government spend of £15bn a year, industrial and commercial property and infrastructure requires up to £10bn a year, flood defences £1bn a year, and the power sector £20bn a year. But it’s about more than just money, the transformation required in the construction industry is multi-faceted and it is critical that industry and government take a joined-up approach to bring together developments in skills, procurement, design, products and materials, transport and more.

“The report we are launching today is a call to arms. We’re telling the government and the industry alike to wake up to the reality of zero carbon and act now.”

Gren Tipper, operations director at the Construction Clients Leadership Group, commented: “The industrial strategy for construction majors on value, and one large section of value can be and should be the fight towards net zero emissions. The industry has had decades of lowest price tendering and without much thought to value. The biggest added value aspect today is getting carbon reduction right.”



Chris Clarke, head of transformation at public procurement specialists SCAPE Group, said: “We know that 80% of the building stock that is going to be on site in 2050 is already there, so we must think harder when we extend and we improve, renovate and refurbish. That is for all of us to influence but it is particularly important for public sector clients to think about their investment decisions, make more rounded decisions and think about what they are doing for strategic outcomes.”

While the report warns against the risks of not acting now, it also spells out the huge opportunities that exist across the sector, including domestic, industrial, flood defence, the power sector and transport. It looks at funding streams, the transformation of skills, procurement and design, and innovative approaches to reducing carbon emissions and waste. The report has contributions from a wide range of organisations with an interest in the sector, including the CBI, the CITB, Constructing Excellence, the Institution of Civil Engineers, Laing O’Rourke and Nottingham City Council.


Source: Infrastructure Intelligence

Moves to reduce plastic packaging to protect the environment are starting to increase demand for aluminium packaging, the European head of Novelis [NVLX.UL], the world’s largest producer of rolled aluminium products, said.

Rolls of aluminum coil are seen at Novelis aluminum factory in Pindamonhangaba, Brazil, June 19, 2015. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

Aluminium demand will also be underpinned by a trend towards more electrically powered cars, Novelis senior vice president and Europe president Emilio Braghi told Reuters in an interview for LME Week, an event for the global metal industry.

“Consumers want more sustainable beverage packaging options, which is having a direct and positive impact on aluminium demand as aluminium cans provide a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic bottles,” Braghi said.

“Some of the world’s biggest beverage brands have recently announced they will address the plastic waste challenge by introducing new aluminium packaging for water.”

The aluminium industry is working to convince food and other packagers that the metal provides an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic, he said.

“A beverage can that is recycled today can be back on store shelves in just 60 days,” he said. “Cans made from recycled aluminium save 95% of the energy required to make a new can and aluminium can be recycled infinitively without losing quality.

“This makes it a valuable resource instead of using packaging materials that end up in the oceans.”

The most important driver of the growing demand for flat-rolled products (FRP) continues to be the transport industry, and particularly the automotive sector, Braghi said. “The number of electric vehicles is expected to increase significantly and the demand for aluminium is expected to multiply tenfold by 2030 compared to 2017,” he said.

“With the new generation vehicles, the functional requirements for car body construction will change … Examples for new applications are battery cases or high-voltage components, the integration of electric motors, a modified weight distribution or safety concepts.”




Novelis has production and recycling operations in Germany, Italy, Britain, France and Switzerland. In 2014 it opened a $258 million aluminium recycling plant in Germany to produce 400,000 tonnes of aluminium annually using scrap.

He called on more European countries to intensify efforts to raise collection of waste packing for recycling.

“In Germany, the recycling rate of cans is 99%, in Switzerland the rate amounts to around 90%,” he said.

“Countries with a lower recycling rate should put in place efficient collection and sorting systems, which would increase the availability and quality of aluminium scrap and allow for achieving even greater levels of aluminium can/packaging recycling.”

Novelis, a unit of India’s Hindalco Industries, is seeking to take over fellow aluminium products producer Aleris Corp in a $2.6 billion deal.

In September, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the takeover, but European Union competition authorities approved it in October. “Bringing Novelis and Aleris together will benefit our customers, employees and the aluminium industry as a whole,” Braghi said.

“This will strengthen our ability to compete against steel in the automotive market, meet growing customer demand for aluminium, achieve our recycling goals, and bolster our sustainability platform worldwide.

“In addition, it will further enhance our strategic position in Asia and diversify our overall product portfolio.”

Reporting by Michael Hogan; Editing by David Holmes


Source: Reuters