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The high street is dying but not yet dead and can still be revived and reimagined, says the Federation of Master Builder (FMB) in response to a new report by a Committee of MPs.

In the report ‘High streets and town centres 2030’, the Select Committee for Housing, Communities and Local Government said “The six months over which our inquiry took place appeared to be the most turbulent for the high street so far. Barely a week went by without headlines pronouncing the ‘death of the high street’ or a major retailer announcing a restructuring or a fall in profits.

“An enormous change has taken place in retail in recent years. The traditional pattern of making purchases in physical stores, both in and out-of-town, has been profoundly disrupted by the growth of online shopping. The impact of this on our high streets and town centres in the form of store closures, persistently empty shops and declining footfall is clear for all to see.

“Against this concerning backdrop, we make a set of recommendations to Government, local government, local communities, retailers and landlords to be acted on now. Unless this urgent action is taken, we fear that further deterioration, loss of visitors and dereliction may lead to some high streets and town centres disappearing altogether.”

Responding to this, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said “I’m really encouraged with the visionary approach this report has taken, as it looks at how we need to fundamentally reimagine the ways that we regenerate our high streets in order to adapt to the challenges of modern life. Central to breathing new life into our high street is converting empty or underused spaces above shops into new homes. These kind of homes would be ideal for young families and professionals, and would benefit the high street through increased footfall to the ‘activity-based community gathering places’ which the report wants us to aspire to. The 2017 FMB report ‘Homes on our high streets’ sets out a number of creative ways that we can overcome the challenges laid out by the Select Committee, and which are associated with regeneration projects, including disparate ownership and preserving local characteristics. In this regard, I was particularly pleased with the Committee’s conclusion that the Government must review the planning powers currently available to local authorities, with a view to strengthening them and empowering local authorities to deliver on town centre transformation and, at the same time, the Government’s ambitious housing targets.”

“With a survey of cross-party MPs showing that 90 per cent of respondents recognise the potential of our existing buildings to help solve the housing crisis, I would urge the Government to accept the recommendation to conduct a review of our high streets as quickly as possible. In particular, the Government must deliver on its commitment to review the Compulsory Purchase Order process, which could help speed up regeneration of high streets. However, contrary to the Committee’s conclusion that Permitted Development Rights risk undermining a local authority’s ability to plan for their housing delivery, streamlining the process for upwards development above certain premises would help them meet their targets while maintaining a more rigorous application process for other kinds of developments. What we must avoid is perfectly good space lying empty and achieving nothing in terms of boosting the local economy or providing homes for individuals and families.”

Local authorities could mitigate the rising cost of highway repair and maintenance by employing simple preventative solutions, according to road reinforcement experts.

The claim comes as the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey reports total carriageway maintenance expenditure across England and Wales in 2017-18 was around £1.93 billion — an increase on the previous year’s £1.66 billion.

The survey, published by the Asphalt Industry Alliance, also highlights a gap of £3.3 million between the funds that local authority highways teams in England and Wales received in the last 12 months and the amount needed to keep the carriageway in ‘reasonable order’.

One in five of local roads in the UK is now deemed to be structurally poor, meaning it has less than five years of life remaining, reports show.

Taking a longer-term, preventative approach to road maintenance would reduce the need for regular remedial work; a regular drain on local authority budgets.

Jochen Bromen, Application Technology Manager, Asphalt Systems, at pavement reinforcement specialist Tensar, said “anything that represents a more permanent repair (rather than patching) is a good thing; the taxpayer benefits, the local authority can spend money on more road maintenance or infrastructure projects, motorists face fewer repairs to their cars, and the total economic impact is ultimately reduced.

“One pothole is now filled every 21 seconds in the UK, and although the Government’s Pothole Action Fund recently injected an extra £100 million towards the repair of affected road surfaces, following a winter of severe weather conditions, the Local Government Association claims funding “will provide just over 1% of what is needed to tackle our current £9.3 billion local roads repair backlog.”

Combined with rising asphalt costs, innovative approaches are increasingly needed to further safeguard the UK’s highways.

A composite paving grid can effectively mitigate reflective cracking in new pavements caused by joints or cracks in the old structure.

“The technology combines the reinforcing function of a grid with the stress-relief and interlayer barrier function of a paving fabric,” Bromen explained. “This type of maintenance solution is simple and economical and can extend the operating life of a road, reducing whole-life costs.”

The ALARM survey also found a huge disparity between recommended frequency of road resurfacing work and the current reality. It is advised that resurfacing should occur every 10 to 20 years. However, the reporting of such activity has plummeted to once every 92 years in England.

“Without sufficient funding to properly resurface the UK’s roads within the recommended time frame, councils are left facing hefty road repair bills, which add up to more in the long run,” Bromen added. “It’s like re-icing a cake that’s crumbling underneath — an unsustainable solution.

“By taking a whole-life approach to road maintenance and investing in the correct technology to extend their lifespan, local authorities will realise huge long-term savings.”

For over 1.3 million UK workers, the office is simply not ‘good enough’.

A new report released by Leesman, the world’s leading assessor of workplace effectiveness, analyses how organisations can better support employees by offering an office environment that actually works.

Today, Leesman launches ‘The Next 250k’, a global report based on the evaluation results from more than 250,000 employees across 2,200+ workplaces in 67 countries. The study looks at how a poorly planned workplace can have a negative impact on employees, inhibiting their ability to perform. The data reveals a shocking level of dissatisfaction among the workforce.

The findings show that while employers continue to face economic uncertainty, many of their employees are having to endure workplaces that fail to support their basic working day, obstructing their ability to positively contribute to business success.

43 per cent of employees globally do not agree that their workplace enables them to work productively. In the UK, that figure jumps to 46 per cent. Therefore, in line with ONS employment figures, For over 1.3 million UK workers, the office is simply not ‘good enough’.

The report points to five key areas that organisations need to focus on:

  1. The top productivity killers: offices are routinely presenting barriers to daily work that impact everything from how proud people are to be there, to how much they actually enjoy working there. The features that have the biggest impact on employees’ ability to work productively are ‘space between work settings’, ‘dividers’ and ‘noise levels’.
  2. The most demanding generation: millennials repeatedly show themselves to have the simplest workloads and thus the narrowest set of requirements. Attention should instead be directed at those in the 35-44 age band who consistently record the lowest satisfaction scores, and typically have more complex roles.
  3. The winner of the open-plan v. private office debate: the research shows that both open-plan and cellular solutions can be equally good and bad. Across 2,200+ workplaces surveyed, employees in the highest performing locations will almost certainly be sat in an open-plan setting, so demonising this way of working is not the way forward.
  4. Workplace transformation projects are not always transformative: with the vast capital sums invested in refurbishment and relocation fit-out projects, leadership teams would be forgiven for expecting them to deliver significant operational benefit. But evidence shows this to not always be the case.
  5. Workplace + Behaviour = Effectiveness: based on Leesman’s research across 11,336 employees in 40 ‘activity-based’ workplaces (where employees can select a series of different spaces that best supports the particular activity being undertaken), these employees rarely work in an activity-based way. In short, employees don’t just change the working habits of a lifetime because employers tell them to.

Dr. Peggie Rothe PhD who led the research said “Great organisations build a business framework that enable their employees to do their best work. And the workplace is integral in this equation. Offices are assets – tools in talent management strategies, gears in product innovation, instruments in brand development and organisational performance. The central findings of this study should concentrate attentions on how workplace strategies can support business competitiveness, not by cost mitigation but through increasing employee engagement, loyalty and output.”

Tim Oldman, Leesman CEO, added “What this report demonstrates is that there is still more that organisations need to be doing if they’re going to leverage the workplace as a source of competitive advantage and a booster of organisational performance. We still see far too many workplaces that are simply not fit for purpose and that represents a huge missed opportunity for business leaders. We hope that the key central findings can help more organisations create better, more productive environments for their workforce.”

Multi-million pound funding to transform the UK’s coastal communities through investment in jobs, skills and local businesses opened for bids this week announced Coastal Communities Minister, Jake Berry.

500 new businesses supporting 5,500+ plus jobs have been created thanks to the government’s Coastal Communities Fund.

The opening of the next £40 million round of applications was announced by Coastal Communities Minister, Jake Berry, while visiting Barrow-in-Furness to see first hand how the fund has delivered major economic benefits for the Cumbrian town and wider coastal area.

Coastal Communities Minister, Jake Berry, said “I’m delighted to announce that applications are now open for the next round of the Coastal Communities Fund.

“Coastal Communities up and down the country from Barrow-in-Furness to Brighton have been boosted by this funding which has spurred inward investment, sustainable growth, new jobs and exciting economic opportunities for local businesses.

“By 2020, we’ll have invested nearly a quarter of a billion pounds in our seaside areas, providing thousands of jobs, training places and opportunities along the Great British Coast.”

The Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) supports the economic transformation of UK coastal communities by giving funding to create sustainable economic growth and jobs.

Since 2012, the government’s CCF has awarded grants to 295 projects across the UK, totalling over £174 million. Analysis shows this has been money well spent, with every £1 invested having the potential to create an up to £8 boost to our coastal economies. Successful projects have included:

  • Cornwall council receiving a £1.95 million grant in 2014 to repair and re-launch the Grade II Listed Art Deco ‘Jubilee Pool’ in Penzance to create an all year round visitor attraction sustaining existing jobs and creating new positions (including much needed apprenticeships in an area with higher than average youth unemployment).
  • In January 2015, Blackpool city council received a £2 million CCF grant towards the “Lightpool” project to deliver a radical transformation of the iconic Blackpool Illuminations, creating a compelling new visitor experience and a major boost to the local economy. The project is forecast to have increased visitor numbers by 2.6 million.
  • The Tate St Ives was awarded a £3.87 million grant in 2015 to refurbish and extend the Tate Gallery in St Ives. The new facilities include a new apse gallery connecting the existing gallery to the new extension; a new suite of learning and event spaces; increased capacity for visitors in the reception, cloakrooms, café, new exhibition space, staff accommodation and training space.
  • Amble – the seafood town – Northumberland. Northumberland county council was awarded a £1.8 million CCF grant in 2014 to improve the economy of Amble through infrastructure works to transform the town into a visitor destination promoting seafood, attracting new visitors and creating jobs. The project has provided two new restaurants, improved facilities incorporating a Harbour Village with retail space, and enhanced access along the shore.

Barrow-in-Furness has also benefitted from multiple rounds of coastal communities funding which has completely revolutionised business support in the coastal area from north of Millom across the Furness peninsula to Grange.

This has included:

  • £900,000 in CCF round 1 (2012) being granted to Furness Enterprise Limited to create an innovation network which seamlessly connects local businesses with each other to streamline their supply chains. The funds also supported marketing of key sites, formation of 70 new start-up businesses and help to SMEs in providing training opportunities for unemployed residents to gain the skills they need to find a permanent job.
  • £865,000 in CCF round 3 (2015) to Furness Enterprise Limited to accelerate regeneration in Barrow and the surrounding areas by strengthening supply chains and transforming skills as well as attracting inward investment and helping to provide specialist businesses support to local companies to up-skill and grow.
  • A pilot scale internship scheme placing young people in high tech firms. This led to the OGDEN Trust agreeing to fund 60 placements from 2018 to 2020.
  • Participation in the Manufacturing Forum and revolutionary proposals for a pan-Northern supply chain initiative connecting Northern businesses with manufacturers and service providers
  • A new Furness Energy Forum bringing local businesses together to capitalise on energy supplier opportunities
  • £444,000 in CCF round 4 (2017) to Barrow and Furness Coastal Communities Team to transform visitor facilities on Walney Island and covert an old, derelict built into a community run visitor hub.

MPs have voted to vacate the Palace of Westminster while a proposed multi-billion pound modernisation of the historic building ensues.

The Commons approved a motion calling for a “full and timely decant”, designed to allow essential repairs, by 236 votes to 220.

The move, part of a proposed £5.6bn refurbishment, is not expected to take effect until 2025 at the earliest.

A brief history

Completed in the 1860s, the Palace of Westminster is an iconic building that currently houses the British Parliament. It is a world famous and instantly recognisable structure and stands as a celebrated international symbol of our parliamentary democracy. Just as UK Parliament is constantly in a state of flux, so too has the building; adapting accordingly to suit its primary and functional purpose. Taking massive damage during the WWII blitz, the Houses of Parliament were repaired as a matter of utmost national priority post-1945. The project was seen as a real opportunity to create some much-needed new facilities that would be consistent with the original design.

From the 1960s onwards the requirement for individual Members of Parliament to have offices, coupled with the expansion of other parliamentary services led to the acquisition of additional buildings and the Palace became the core of a much larger Parliamentary Estate. In 1992 responsibility for maintaining the Palace ‘on behalf of the nation’ transferred from the Government to Parliament itself. How did this work out?

Fighting a losing battle

It appears that since 1992, every effort has been made to maintain what is ultimately an outdated and increasingly unsuitable infrastructure. Services such as heating, cooling, water, sewage, electricity and cabling have been kept semi-functioning, but have not been modernised. Astoundingly, there has been no real general renovation of the building and its services since the partial rebuild of 1945-50 – some of the services even predate the war. The original basements and vertical shafts that litter the building are now completely filled with pipes and cables, making further work difficult to carry out – which results in further expense.

Reports illustrate that asbestos features heavily throughout the palace and although asbestos remains safe if treated with great care in compliance with safety regulations, it makes any intervention so much more difficult. Another issue is that most of the work undertaken over the last 50 years is largely undocumented and since many areas are inaccessible, the state of dilapidation and subsequent risk is mostly uncharted. The building is completely at the mercy of fire, with little modern safety practices in place and fire compartmentation considered almost impossible.

The original roofs are no longer watertight and there are many areas plagued with penetrating damp, damaged by interior leaks and flooding.

      Read more: Radical concept for temporary floating parliament unveiled

Today, an influential committee is expected to recommend that MPs and peers should abandon the crumbling Houses of Parliament for six years so that drastic refit works can be carried out.

The cost

So now at the crux of the issue, how much does it cost to renovate a 150 year old Grade I listed building which is partly sinking, contains asbestos and has outdated cabling? The short answer is ‘a lot.’ The sheer amount of work and the sensitive nature of refurbishing a World Heritage Site results in a sky-high estimate of £5.6bn, with some suggesting the sum could rise to as much as £7.1bn.

A 2012 report warned that “major, irreversible damage” may be done to the building unless significant restoration work is carried out soon, making the refurbishment one of the most urgent and arguably important renovation projects in the UK today. Some feel that the whole thing is a needless expense to the taxpayer and a vanity project for British Parliament. Another previous report concluded that the maintenance costs alone are so astronomically high that if the Palace of Westminster was a commercial structure of no historical significance, it would be far more cost-effective and efficient to demolish it and rebuild using modern methods of construction, such as modular offsite building.

Whatever you stance, the Houses of Parliament are of national, historical and cultural importance and refurbishment will happen.

Eight years after being put on the ‘At Risk’ register by English Heritage, the landmark Terry’s Chocolate Factory has a new lease of life, following extensive refurbishment. The 1926, Grade II listed building now starts a new chapter as a care village owned by Springfield Healthcare.

Once home to famous brands such as Chocolate Orange, the factory and offices were closed in 2005 and fell into disrepair over the subsequent decade. Eventually the building, which is part of a 27-acre site, was acquired by Henry Boot Developments for conversion. The renovations included a full roof refurbishment that was undertaken by Hull-based roofing contractor L.A. Hall using a Sika Sarnafil single ply system.

One of the key focuses of the work was to preserve and retain the art deco features of the building while increasing its lifespan. A vital element of the repairs was the work on the existing flat and slate roof areas that were in a very poor state, and a roof for the new additional floor of the building.

Principal contractor Simpson (York) Ltd., brought L.A. Hall on board to complete the roofing works, which comprised a number of disciplines, including heritage Westmorland slating, single ply, zinc cladding and leadwork.

L.A. Hall suggested using a Sika Sarnafil system for the flat roof areas, as it matched the client’s requirements for longevity and sustainability, and is the company’s preferred membrane choice. The project’s conservation officer was initially concerned that the system would be too shiny, but Sika Sarnafil provided a number of samples, and after discussions, the specification was welcomed by all parties.

The project was complex due to the multiple roof areas and detailing. To begin, the existing slating on the central north light roof slopes, which were remaining in place as part of the new scheme, were re-covered using a fully adhered Sika Sarnafil system including G410-EL membrane in Lead Grey.

In addition to the existing roof areas, an extra floor to the building was constructed around the north lights. Its steep slated mansard-type external elevation included approximately 60 dormer windows, which required zinc on all the vertical faces and Sarnafil on the tops. The flat roof area of the extension was then also covered in the Sarnafil system, along with 140m of parapet guttering detailing, and a new roof terrace area.

Nigel Drysdale, Technical Advisor at Sika Sarnafil said “We had a great number of details to consider in order to preserve the original look of the building. For example, the architect and conservation officer required a timber mop roll detail to the perimeter of the main roof and the dormers. So all the parties worked closely to achieve a practical and aesthetic solution, which involved creating detailed life-sized models of key elements. This collaborative and applied approach gave the conservation officer confidence that the detailing was sympathetic to the building’s heritage and that’s what we eventually installed.”

The L.A. Hall team overcame various challenges, including working on sloped areas, tight time scales and challenging winter weather, but thanks to the skill of the fitters and the flexibility of the Sarnafil system, the project was finished to an impeccable standard and on time.

All members on the team agree that the newly refurbished roof looks stunning and will defend this iconic building from the elements for many years to come.

For more information please call 01707 394444, or visit http://gbr.sarnafil.sika.com

On Monday 21 August at noon, Big Ben’s famous bongs will sound for the last time before major conservation works are carried out. The Elizabeth Tower, home to the Great Clock and Big Ben, is currently undergoing a complex programme of renovation work that will safeguard it for future generations. While this vital work takes place, the Great Bell’s world famous striking will be paused until 2021 to ensure the safety of those working in the Tower.

Steve Jaggs, Keeper of the Great Clock, said “Big Ben falling silent is a significant milestone in this crucial conservation project. As Keeper of the Great Clock I have the great honour of ensuring this beautiful piece of Victorian engineering is in top condition on a daily basis. This essential programme of works will safeguard the clock on a long term basis, as well as protecting and preserving its home – the Elizabeth Tower. Members of the public are welcome to mark this important moment by gathering in Parliament Square to hear Big Ben’s final bongs until they return in 2021.”

The Great Bell, popularly called Big Ben, weighs 13.7 tonnes and strikes every hour to the note of E. It is accompanied by four quarter bells, which chime every 15 minutes. Big Ben has marked the hour with almost unbroken service for the past 157 years. The bongs last fell silent for maintenance in 2007, and prior to that between 1983-5 as part of a previous large scale refurbishment programme.

The Great Clock is operated by a custom built Victorian clockwork mechanism, which relies on gravity to trigger the renowned bongs. To stop the bells the striking hammers will be locked and the bell disconnected from the clock mechanism, allowing the Great Clock to continue telling the time silently. Parliament’s specialist clock makers will ensure that Big Ben can still bong for important national events such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday. The bells will resume their regular time keeping duties in the course of 2021.

Conservation works

Standing at 96 metres tall, the Elizabeth Tower is a focal point of the Grade I listed Palace of Westminster, which forms a part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Not only is it a world famous landmark, it is also the most photographed building in the UK. Conservation is required to:

  • Repair problems identified with the Elizabeth Tower and the Great Clock, which cannot be rectified whilst the clock is in action
  • Conserve significant elements of the Tower, as designed by architects Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin
  • Repair and redecorate the interior, renew the building services and make improvements to health and safety and fire protection systems
  • Improve energy efficiency to reduce the Tower’s environmental impact

The project started earlier this year, with the start of scaffolding works. Once this scaffolding reaches the necessary height, work will begin at the very top of the Tower with the renovation of the Ayrton Light (which shines to show that Parliament is sitting) and the refurbishment of the cast iron roofing.

The team will then work their way down the building, removing scaffolding as they go, and tackling a wide range of the complex issues created by the height and heritage of this unique landmark.

The Great Clock

As part of this intricate series of works, the Great Clock itself will be dismantled piece by piece with each cog examined and restored. The four dials will be carefully cleaned, the glass repaired, the cast iron framework renewed, and the hands will be removed and refurbished. Whilst the Great Clock and the dials are undergoing conservation, it will be necessary to cover the faces for some time. However, to ensure that the public are still able to set their watches by this most important of time pieces, one working clock face will remain visible at all times throughout the works. As the clock mechanism itself will be temporarily out of action, a modern electric motor will drive the clock hands until the Great Clock is reinstated.

One of London’s most prominent brutalist residential blocks, Trellick Tower, is set for a major £7.2m restoration programme with the appointment of leading social housing maintenance provider, Wates Living Space, to deliver extensive external works.

Carried out on behalf of Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), the work marks a major investment in the preservation of the historic tower in Kensal New Town.

Following extensive planning and liaison, work on the programme is scheduled to commence immediately and will include the repair, renovation and replacement of the Grade II* listed building’s concrete, cladding and approximately 1,000 windows.

Trellick Tower was designed by Hungarian Modernist architect, Ernö Goldfinger, and was built in 1972 as part of the Brutalist architecture movement that arose from the 1950s to the mid 1970s. The tower became the inspiration for JG Ballard’s novel ‘High Rise’, which was made into a film starring Tom Hiddlestone in 2015.

Wates will first commence work on the six-storey Block B, which will be followed by the external refurbishment of the 31-storey Block A in June this year. Overall completion is expected by summer 2018.

As part of the mobilisation of its team, Wates is currently making arrangements for a range of community initiatives that will be delivered throughout the programme. This will include a series of training and employment opportunities for local people as well as engagement with local social enterprises.

The project follows from a framework agreement between KCTMO and Wates, which began in 2015, for Wates to carry out internal and external works in the north of the borough.

David Morgan, Managing Director of Wates Living Space, said “It is a huge honour to be entrusted with the refurbishment of such a historically significant London tower block. This project will involve a meticulous balance of ensuring we preserve the building’s iconic status while, most importantly, delivering the vital work with minimal disruption to Trellick Tower residents. We very much look forward to continuing our work with KCTMO and to getting under the skin of what is a landmark piece of post-war architecture.”

Robert Black, KCTMO Chief Executive, added “We’re very pleased to be working with Wates on such an important project. Both ourselves and Wates are working closely with residents to ensure that they’re fully informed and we’re committed to supporting them throughout the project. This iconic building is a favourite to many and this work will help ensure it stays that way.”

In addition to its importance as a Grade II listed residential building, Trellick Tower has featured heavily in popular culture since its construction. This includes its appearance in a series of music videos throughout the past two decades.

Standing at 98m high, the building’s unique shape and structure was also the inspiration for Channel 4’s famous reinforced concrete ‘4’ that is used to link between its programming.

The roof refurbishment of Kirkgate Market in Leeds is a story of problem solving and partnership. Rising to the challenge, Protech Roofing and Sarnafil Plus delivered an exemplary solution, which allowed the market to remain open throughout.

Europe’s largest covered market, Kirkgate has 800 stalls attracting over 100,000 visitors a week. As part of a £14m refurbishment to improve the market for the stallholders and the public, the leaking roof, extending over both the 1976 and 1981 halls, needed renewing while the building was fully operational. Being such an important and iconic city landmark, viewable from many of the surrounding buildings, attention to detail and aesthetics were also incredibly important to the final result.

The Sarnafil Plus team did the groundwork to secure the tender with the architect, asserting the benefits of a Sarnafil system, Sarnafil Plus technical support and guarantee. Following this, Protech Roofing, a registered Sarnafil contractor, spent many hours visiting the site and attending meetings, gaining the trust of all parties.

Eamonn Cahill, Interserve senior project manager, said “Protech showed outstanding levels of proactive problem solving and integrity throughout the project. The Sika Sarnafil membrane has given the market hall roofs a smart, clean finish with the durability to keep the building weatherproof for years to come.”

The original design specification called for the existing felt waterproofing to be removed back to the metal decking. However, as this would cause massive disruption and with no guarantee of a watertight building. To combat this issue, Protech recommended a mechanically fastened Sarnafil system that could be overlayed onto the existing substrate.

A full Sarnafil Plus survey and moisture mapping revealed the worst areas for water ingress before the project started to assist with planning the work.

The nine-month project saw a team of between eight and 10 people working on the roof through all four seasons, including rain showers and temperatures of over 27°C., without the project or waterproofing ever being compromised.

Sarnavap 5000E SA a cold applied, self-adhesive vapour control layer was used to ensure temporary waterproofing for the market while the roofing work was being carried out. The SarnaTherm insulation boards were mechanically fixed into the existing roof and installation of Sarnafil S327-15EL Light Grey membrane with stainless steel fixings created a durable, weathertight and aesthetically pleasing finish. Sarnafil membranes are certified by the British Board of Agrement to have a service life in excess of 40 years, giving the client confidence in the durability and longevity of the roof.

A further feature of Sarnafil roofing systems that appealed to the client was that the Sarnafil S327-15EL Light Grey membrane is cold applied – welded together using hot air rather than with a naked flame. The system can be used without restrictions as it meets the fire performance requirements of BS476-Part 3:2004 and BS EN 13501-5:2005. This was an important safety consideration as the market had suffered a terrible fire back in 1975.

Six rooflights over 51m long were replaced with SarnaLites, situated close together in rows, making sure that the market continued to benefit from natural daylight. This part of the refurbishment was carried out at night to limit any disruption to the market below.

Sarnafil Plus visited the site regularly and a successful final inspection resulting in the issuing of a Sarnafil Plus guarantee.

For more information on Sika Sarnafil’s products and services, call 01707 394444, email sarnafilroofing@uk.sika.com or visit http://gbr.sarnafil.sika.com.

Britain’s beloved historic buildings are at risk, due to a restoration skills crisis that threatens the future of some of our best-known national treasures, warns a RICS and YouGov survey.

  • 9 in 10 British people identify historic buildings, like those featured in Channel 4’s Great British Buildings – Restoration of the Year* as important symbols of national heritage.
  • 89% of the British public believe it’s important to preserve these national treasures and 42% said the responsibility to invest and maintain these structures lies with the government.
  • However, despite the public’s passion for historic buildings, the majority don’t understand the specialist skills needed to preserve them, at a time when the entire construction industry is facing a skills shortage.

Restoration of the Year

Despite over a million people tuning in to Channel 4’s latest series Great British Buildings – Restoration of the Year, and a new YouGov survey commissioned by RICS finding that 91% of the British public believe historic buildings are symbolic of Britain’s heritage, young people have little awareness of the specialist professions and trades essential to their preservation, suggesting that as people retire, the current skills base could be all but wiped out.

Preserving iconic treasures

According to the survey, 9 in 10 people (91%) agreed that buildings such as Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace are symbols of the country’s heritage. This sentiment is strong across all age groups, including millennials, with 89% of 18-24 year-olds appreciating the importance of historic buildings.

The vast majority of the population (89%) also believe that that these iconic treasures should be preserved for future generations and place the responsibility for maintaining them firmly at the door of the government (42%), followed by industry organisations (16%) and the general public (14%).

Appreciation for historic buildings is particularly strong in West Midlands, with almost two thirds (65%) saying that it’s ‘very important’ such buildings are preserved, while around 2 in 5 respondents (42%) from Scotland say the same.

Skills shortage

However, despite the public’s love for these buildings, the majority don’t understand the specialist skills needed to restore and preserve them. For example, 83% are not knowledgeable about what a historic building surveyor does, and 80% do not know what a roof thatcher’s job entails. Awareness of age-old building professions is fading away amongst the younger generation, with only 1 in 10 18-24 year-olds able to describe the job of a stonemason, and only 16% know what a glass blower does.

This lack of awareness comes at a time when the industry as a whole is facing a skills shortage in the built environment, with the latest figures from the RICS Construction Market Survey showing that the skills gap reported by professionals across the construction sector increased from 2% in 2012 to 43% in 2016.

A pipeline of talent

To ensure that these crucial skills are not lost and cherished historic buildings don’t fall into disrepair, a stronger pipeline of talent is needed. It’s important that craft skills are developed in addition to the continual promotion of professional skills, as the two skillsets are intrinsically linked to create any successful construction project.

RICS is calling on the government and industry bodies to continue to concentrate their efforts on inspiring young people to pursue a career in the sector and educate them on the importance of mastering and maintaining the skills needed to preserve our historic buildings.

Kevin McCloud, British designer and presenter said “Historically listed buildings form part of the fabric of our rich cultural heritage and today’s findings from RICS highlight that so many Brits are genuinely passionate about protecting the physical legacy that these buildings represent. I’m very pleased to be hosting Channel 4’s Restoration of the Year programme, which shines a spotlight on the care and craftsmanship behind preserving these national treasures.”

Matthew Howell, RICS Managing Director for UK & Ireland added “It’s fantastic to see that so many people care about our historic buildings, especially young people. However, without a pipeline of talent developing expertise in these specialist areas, these landmarks could be left in ruin. We need the next generation to understand the role of a historic building surveyor, and the craft of a stonemason or glassblower to preserve this heritage for the future.

“The government and industry bodies must continue to work together and raise awareness of the wide-range of opportunities available in the industry and create more routes into the sector for young people, including investing in quality apprenticeships that lead to roles such as qualified building surveyors who specialise in conservation projects.”