This month’s biggest news was the government’s decision to select Heathrow as the site of a new runway to expand Britain’s airport capacity.
Other major transport projects include the green light being given to an extension of Manchester’s Metrolink. One of the places it will serve is the new Trafford Waters development, for which Peel Holdings has gained planning permission.
London & Scottish has been behind the biggest retail development this month, announcing plans to attract major brands to ten sites in Scotland it has bought from Tesco after the supermarket giant shelved its expansion plans. A further four former Tesco sites will be sold for housing.
Details of the proposed second phase of the Middlewood Locks development in Salford, Greater Manchester have been unveiled. The plan involves constructing more than 540 apartments in four blocks, with construction scheduled to start in 2018. Work began earlier this year on over 500 homes as part of phase one. The brownfield site, located around three surviving basins of the former Manchester, Bury and Bolton Canal, lies in a prime position close to Manchester city centre and is being redeveloped by a consortium of Scarborough Group International, Chinese property developer Hualing Group and Singapore-listed development firm Metro Holding. It will eventually consist of more than 2,200 new homes and 750,000 sq ft of retail, leisure and commercial space.
Peel Holdings has been given the green light to build the £1 billion Trafford Waters development. Located close to the Trafford Centre on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal, the development will include 3,000 apartments, a new primary school, a care home, a 300-bed hotel, 750,000 sq ft of office space and 125,000 sq ft of retail space. The site will be linked by bridge to the Trafford Centre. Construction should begin in the next few months and it is believed the new development will generate 5,000 jobs.
Liverpool City Council is consulting on a new 15-year plan for the city that will include building 29,600 new homes. The proposals envisage constructing most of these on brownfield land, which will also be used to develop the economy. The figure may be up to 9,000 lower than the government’s estimated figure as the city’s population rises towards half a million. If the plan is not subjected to a legal challenge, it will be adopted late next year.
Developer London & Scottish has outlined plans to redevelop 14 sites in Scotland it has bought from Tesco. The retailer sold them after cancelling its expansion plans and while four have been sold on to housing constructors to build 300 new homes, the rest will be used for retail developments. The new shopping complexes will be located in Crieff, Thurso, Aviemore, Cupar, Cowdenbeath, Dalkeith, Paisley, East Kilbride, Kilmarnock and the Springburn district of Glasgow, while the new housing developments will be at Paisley, East Kilbride, Kilmarnock and Coatdyke in Lanarkshire.
Heathrow has been given the nod over Gatwick as the government’s preferred option for the expansion of airport capacity in the south-east. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “A new runway at Heathrow will improve connectivity in the UK itself and crucially boost our connections with the rest of the world, supporting exports, trade and job opportunities. “This isn’t just a great deal for business, it’s a great deal for passengers who will also benefit from access to more airlines, destinations and flights.” A public consultation will now take place and MPs will vote on the decision late next year, with the aim being to build the runway in the early 2020s. However, considerable opposition is expected, both legally and politically. Cabinet ministers Boris Johnson and Justine Greening are both against expansion, as is London mayor Sadiq Khan. Zac Goldsmith, who was the Conservative candidate for this year’s mayoral election, has followed up his promise to resign his seat in the event of the government backing Heathrow. He will now re-contest the Richmond Park constituency in a by-election as an anti-Heathrow independent.
Mr Grayling has also reiterated the government’s commitment to HS2 under new prime minister Theresa May. Speaking about the project, Mr Grayling said: “We need HS2 for the capacity it will bring on the routes between London, the West Midlands, Crewe, Leeds and Manchester, as well as the space it’ll create elsewhere on our transport network. “We need it for the boost it will give to our regional and national economies and we need it for the jobs it will create, and for the way it will link our country together.” He emphasised that the doubling in passenger numbers over the past 20 years means more rail capacity is vital.
Manchester’s Metrolink tram system is to undergo further expansion after the £350 million Trafford Park line was given the green light. The new line will branch off from the Eccles line and will include six new stops, including Wharfside (which will serve Old Trafford football ground), the Imperial War Museum North and the Trafford Centre. Mayor for Greater Manchester Tony Lloyd said: “Today’s announcement is another big step forward for Greater Manchester. I’m delighted that our long-held ambition to build a new Metrolink line through Trafford Park is now about to become a reality.” This month has also seen the final track laying for the Second City Crossing, which will make it easier for the growing number of suburban services to pass through Manchester city centre as the network expands to 99 stations.
A £28 million very light rail innovation centre is to be established in Dudley. The West Midlands town will host the new centre and will also use a very light rail line to connect the town to Dudley Port mainline rail station. It will be located at the site of the old Dudley railway station at Castle Hill. Backed by Dudley Council and the Warwick Manufacturing Group of the University of Warwick, the new centre will develop technology that could be run along disused heavy rail routes at a lower cost.
Contractor Clugston has secured its second contract in as many months to deliver an energy-from-waste plant. The company will be the civil contractor for the Parc Adfer incinerator in Deeside, having signed a similar deal for the Kemsley combined heat and power facility in Kent. It makes the specialist firm the leading UK contractor in the field of energy-from-waste plants, with Parc Adfer set to be its 13th project. The new facility in Deeside will be operated by American firm Wheelabrator, which will process 200,000 tonnes of waste a year on behalf of five local authorities in north Wales.
National Grid has confirmed a £2.8 billion plan to bury power lines in Cumbria ahead of the opening of the new Moorside nuclear power plant. The project will see the 102-mile link being linked to the national grid via cables dug under the Lake District fells, rather than erecting pylons inside the national park. In addition, the existing pylons in the area could be removed completely. Part of the plans may include the digging of a 13-mile tunnel under Morecambe Bay, which would cost £1.2 billion, but would avoid the connection running through the southern part of the national park. A consultation process on the proposals is now underway.
Oil and gas
The government has upheld an appeal by energy firm Cuadrilla that will enable it to frack for shale gas in Lancashire. The controversial technique, which involves injecting pressurised water into shale to fracture it and release gas, will be carried out at a site in Fylde. Communities secretary Sajid Javid overturned the original refusal of planning permission by Lancashire County Council and said he was minded to approve a second application nearby that had also been rejected, provided Cuadrilla can resolve concerns about the impact on local traffic. Opponents believe fracking damages the environment by potentially polluting water and leading to the burning of more fossil fuels, but proponents say it will boost Britain’s energy security.