MINISTER FOR local and regional government Nick Raynsford last week slated the construction industry for bad design and sloppy procurement that, he says, is letting the construction industry down.
'As a government we have the ethos that developments be of high aspiration, high expectation, high quality design and high quality procurement.
Unfortunately there are still too many examples of poor quality design and procurement, ' said Raynsford.
'The Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood and the Jubilee Line Extension were high on aspiration and expectation, but we are still apologising for the overruns, ' he added.
Raynsford was speaking at an ICE reception at the Labour Party conference on the day that education secretary Charles Clarke promised every school building in the UK would be renewed should Labour win a third term in government.
'School buildings have for far too long been neglected, but we need good design and procurement, ' added Raynsford.
He is spearheading the Thames Gateway development and urged the industry to seize the opportunities there to improve performance.
'The Thames Gateway is an historic opportunity for the construction industry to get things right, in terms of design and procurement, that have been done wrong before, ' he said. 'The industry has not always been brilliant about being on time and on budget.'
Raynsford added that projects that are stimulating urban revival, such as the Sage Music Centre and Millennium Bridge in Gateshead are the exception, not the rule.
ICE president Doug Oakervee admitted that in the past, engineers have been more concerned about ensuring that buildings survive than about the communities that live in them.
But he added that civil engineering's key role in building sustainable communities would be in ensuring that the infrastructure is in place.
Government must act now to provide the funds for this to happen.
'One of the problems we face today is that we didn't take account of the infrastructure necessary in the future. You need infrastructure in place ahead of developments, ' he said.
The reception was hosted by ICE fellow and Labour MP Lawrie Quinn and organised jointly by the ICE and RIBA. It was the first time the ICE has held an event at the conference.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott made an appearance.