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NCE Live News Updates Friday 28 March: First housing tower at Canary Wharf

Early works underway on 58-storey building in East London

5pm: A piece of good news to end the week – financial close has been reached on the Mersey Gateway bridge.

Chancellor George Osborne gave the £600M project a major boost in last week’s budget with the announcement of a £270M guarantee for its debt finance package.

Now all the 30-year contracts between the Spanish-led Merseylink consortium and Halton Borough Council have been agreed and construction is set to start.

Stephen Cardwell, project director for the Merseylink Construction joint venture, said: “The Merseylink consortium brings together leading bridge design, construction and tolling professionals who have worked on projects around the world, and I know the team is very excited about the Mersey Gateway Project.

“We’ve already started our work to engage with the local supply chain and potential employees and the response we have had has been encouraging.” 


4pm: The former Hafren Power chief executive who has set up his own firm to promote the Severn Barrage has received an offer of help from a predecessor.

Michael Davies is understood to be behind Severn Tidal Energy, which is aiming to create the world’s largest tidal energy barrier.

Tony Pryor, who left Hafren Power last year due to differences with the firm’s owners, said he would be making contact with Davies.

“I will be getting in touch to do whatever I can,” Pryor told NCE. “It is a project that needs to be built.”

Pryor said the scheme could provide affordable renewable energy as well as prevent flooding on the Somerset Levels.

But he said it needed public government backing before investment could be raised to get it through planning.

Energy minister Greg Barker last year slammed Hafren Power’s plans for a Severn barrage, saying they were not detailed enough to warrant government backing.


3.15pm: West Midlands transport authority Centro is to ask the government to commit to a link between HS1 and HS2.

The body will seek permission from councillors to petition for a number of amendments to the phase one hybrid bill for the £43bn High Speed 2 project.

It wants a ‘fully segregated’ tunnel linking the rail line to its predecessor so passengers can travel directly from Birmingham to mainland Europe.

A proposed £700M link between the lines was taken out of the bill by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin recently after project chief David Higgins called for a rethink.

Centro said it backed the building of HS2 but wanted to get the best outcome for passengers.


3pm: North Scotland is to benefit from £170M of rail infrastructure work.

First minister Alex Salmond said the programme of work would be completed over the next five years.

It will include extra track between Aberdeen and Inverurie; platform extensions at Insch and Elgin; a relocated station at Forres and signalling improvements at Elgin.

Salmond said: “This investment is all part of our programme to ensure Scotland has a railway fit for the future.

“Our £5bn commitment to rail infrastructure and services is addressing decades of neglect on the railways throughout Scotland.”


12pm: Atkins has won an engineering contract for the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm near Norfolk.

The firm will provide design and engineering services for the monopole foundations for the development’s 6MW turbines.

It will also give management assistance during fabrication and installation.

The development will power more than 400,000 UK homes each year and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 19M tonnes over its 25-year lifetime.


10am: Canary Wharf Group has started early works on the East London finance hub’s first residential tower.

The developer said planning consent had been granted for the 58-storey Newfoundland building, and utility works had started on site.

The building will include 566 homes and a health club, while affordable housing will be provided alongside. The main construction phase is due to start later this year.

“Alongside the expansion of our commercial portfolio, the group is now making the major strategic step of applying its traditional expertise in the design and construction of office buildings to residential development,” said a report published by the firm this morning.

“Newfoundland will be in direct proximity to the transport links and array of over 300 shops, bars and restaurants available at Canary Wharf.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • St Pancras was a mistake. Terminal stations are inefficient both from the running and passenger aspects. They originated with the Victorian separate and competing railway companies. The reason for using St Pancras was a mixture of convention and finding something to do with a listed building.

    St Pancras has 13 platforms to do almost the same job as Stratford's 4. It is a magnificent station but it's a long walk from the Betjeman statue to the front of a train whereas trains at a through station are accessed centrally or possibly from several points. I don't go to a station simply to admire it.

    Further most people don't want to go to St Pancras. I'm lucky, I'm either visiting a club five minutes walk away or on the way to Scotland so going to King's Cross or Euston. Most people have to get on the underground and go somewhere else.

    Far better if it had been a through station located where several underground lines could access it. The train store could have been somewhere further North on a line which would now be being extended as HS2.

    This is the same logic as creating hubs near Birmingham and Manchester with good connections to ALL the suburbs and cities around.

    Omitting a link between HS1 and HS2 will condemn passengers from the Continent to the North to at least an extra half hour journey. Never mind walking past Betjeman that is NOT the object of their journey.

    I once saw a map giving contour of the time it would take to reach the centre of London. That isn't the objective of every passenger but analysing the total time for as many journeys as possible and seeing how they can be improved IS the way to think. This time includes walking along platforms, waiting for trains, extended because trains close their doors 60 secs before departure etc.


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