PBC Today August 2020

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Welcome to PBC Today August 2020. In this edition, we examine the continuing impact of Covid-19 on the construction industry, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call to “build, build, build”, government proposals to radically overhaul the planning system and the sector’s road to recovery in the “new normal”

Gillian Charlesworth, chief executive of the BRE Group, says the sector’s return to work post-lockdown presents an opportunity to come together to build a greener future, while Rob Wall of the National Housing Federation calls on the government to put housing at the heart of recovery.

Meanwhile, Victoria Hills of the Royal Town Planning Institute discusses the new Plan the World We Need campaign, which is urging governments across the UK to capitalise on the expertise of planners to achieve a sustainable, resilient and inclusive recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is much more besides, from Stewart Dalgarno of the AIMCH project discussing the opportunity for offsite construction to become the “new normal” as housebuilding activity returns and Helen Andrews of Fieldfisher on the “cladding nightmare” facing tenants of many high-rise buildings to Fiona Moore on the work of the Centre for Digital Build Britain’s BIM Interoperability Expert Group and Keith Waller on the Construction Innovation Hub’s newly launched Value Toolkit.

Here’s a selection of what’s on offer:

1. A transformational recovery from Covid-19

The construction industry needs to come together to build a greener future, says Gillian Charlesworth, chief executive of BRE Group.

2. Plan the World We Need: Planning’s role in a sustainable and inclusive recovery

At the end of June, the Royal Town Planning Institute launched Plan the World We Need – a national campaign calling on governments across the UK and Ireland to capitalise on the expertise of planners to achieve a sustainable, resilient and inclusive recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. RTPI chief executive Victoria Hills sets out her case.

3. Put homes at the heart of the country’s coronavirus recovery

Our homes have been a shelter from the storm during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now a new campaign, spearheaded by the National Housing Federation, is calling on the government to ensure social housing is central to the country’s recovery.

4. The BIEG breaks ground on BIM Interoperability programme

The Centre for Digital Built Britain, as a partner in the Construction Innovation Hub, has launched a new BIM Interoperability programme to improve data sharing in the construction and infrastructure sectors. Fiona Moore, chair of the BIM Interoperability Expert Group (BIEG), shares the group’s progress to date, and how they will be working in partnership with industry to co-develop solutions.

5. Closing the door on cheapness: Construction Innovation Hub launches the Value Toolkit

Value-based decision-making is the lynchpin of a transformed construction sector, says Keith Waller, programme director of the Construction Innovation Hub.

6. Offsite construction can become the “new normal”

Covid-19 has placed new safety restrictions on an industry already struggling to deliver enough housing. Offsite construction, with its factory environments, integrated supply chains and increased efficiency, can step up to produce much-needed, high quality and cost-effective homes, says AIMCH project director Stewart Dalgarno.

7. Cladding remediation fund falls short of towering safety problem

Following calls by the Housing, Communities & Local Government Committee for the UK government to end the “cladding nightmare” for residents of tall buildings, Fieldfisher construction partner Helen Andrews looks at how far the funding allocated to tackle the issue is likely to stretch.

8. Covid-19 holds the key to quicker and cheaper construction disputes

Lockdown has seen courts adopt virtual platforms such as Zoom to hear cases – with an uptick in hearings and decisions. Bill Barton, director of Barton Legal, says there is no reason why virtual hearings cannot become the norm for resolving construction disputes, bringing significant time and cost savings to an often tortuously slow and expensive process.

9. Creating a digital map of underground assets

With accidental cable and pipe strikes resulting in high costs, project delays and potentially life-threatening injuries, the Geospatial Commission has partnered with Ordnance Survey and the Greater London Authority to develop a National Underground Asset Register that will digitally map the world beneath our feet.

10. Garden towns and villages: Visions and reality

Plans for 20 new garden towns and garden villages could create 200,000 car-dependent households, according to research by Transport for New Homes. Sustainable transport campaigner Steve Chambers discusses the findings.

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