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NCE daily news update Wednesday 2 April: Edinburgh school checks underway after fatal wall collapse; Birmingham unveils Curzon masterplan

Edinburgh’s council is rolling out new structural surveys following yesterday’s tragic wall collapse at a high school. In other news, Birmingham is pushing for a major redevelopment to be built around the High Speed 2 terminus planned for the city centre.

The Environment Agency has formally sealed a long-awaited deal with suppliers on a four year water and environment management (WEM) framework.

The deal was delayed early last year and the framework suppliers were first announced last summer.

The 12 firms who will work with the Environment Agency over the next four years to build and repair flood defences have now signed a WEM Framework Charter. 

The full list of framework suppliers is: AKT (Aecom, Keir), GBV (Galliford Try & Black and Veatch), VBA (Volker Stevin, Boskalis, Atkins), JBA (Jeremy Benn Associates), Team Van Oord (Van Oord, JT Mackley, May Gurney, Royal HaskoningDHV) Instead of Halcrow, use CH2M Hill Halcrow, BMM JV (BAM Nuttall Mott MacDonald JV).


Motts acquires water consultant down under

Consultant Mott MacDonald has acquired New Zealand and Australia based water consultancy AWT.
AWT has provided science and engineering based services across the water sector for over 20 years and employs around 50 engineers and scientists in its offices in Auckland and Melbourne.

The company recently worked on the expansion of the Rotorua wastewater treatment plant and applied membrane bioreactor technology to meet New Zealand’s tightest nutrient limits from a wastewater discharge. In Christchurch City it has been adopted to provide network monitoring data and analysis to help with the reconstruction of underground water assets.
“AWT adds a strong water capability to our existing New Zealand business in buildings and transport as part of our strategy to build a multi-sector business. It strengthens our water expertise in Australia and throughout the region,” said Mott MacDonald chairman Keith Howells. “AWT’s specialist focus on the science and technology of water also enhances Mott MacDonald’s technical edge for the benefit of projects worldwide.”

The shortlisted proposals in the RIBA-run competition for High Speed 2’s overhead line structures have been revealed by NCE sister magazine The Architects’ Journal.

Concepts by Moxon, Grimshaw, Gorton Paul Scheuvens, IDOM with Alan Baxter & Associates, PWA Architects, Ramboll, Lariko/Urbanski and Danish practices COBE and Bystrup – which has two designs in the final 10 – were chosen ahead of more than 60 schemes at the beginning of March.


Structural surveys have begun today on walls in schools around Edinburgh in the wake of the collapse of a school changing room wall that killed a girl aged 12 yesterday.

Edinburgh City Council said it understood that the wall that collapsed was a free standing modesty wall. It said a full survey of its schools, including Liberton High School where the collapse occurred, had been carried out in 2012/13 and no concerns with the wall were identified.

“However, as a precaution, specialist council building services staff will be surveying all similar walls in schools where we know that they exist,” said the council. “The survey work will begin early [today].”

It added that a wider survey  was being undertaken at Liberton before it would reopen.

“As a further precaution, a full survey will be carried out on Liberton High School in the coming days before the main school building re-opens to pupils,” said the council. “Support for all pupils, plus tutorial support for S4 to S6 pupils, will be available in the school’s new games hall for the rest of this week.”


Birmingham City Council yesterday unveiled its Birmingham Curzon HS2 Masterplan, which aims to transform 141ha of the city centre.

The council said the scheme would be one of the biggest urban regeneration schemes in Britain and the biggest redevelopment so far announced on the back of High Speed 2 (HS2).

The new development will be focused around the brand new city centre station – Birmingham Curzon – where HS2 is to terminate its 49 minute journey from London.

City leaders in Birmingham hailed the potential of HS2 as a catalyst for urban regeneration and called on political leaders to push ahead with the rail scheme and help unlock growth across the country.

The plan’s unveiling comes as West Midlands transport authority Centro was this week poised to seek changes to the High Speed 2 (HS2) hybrid bill to include provisions for a major rail interchange in Birmingham.

The new masterplan involves the creation of over 14,000 jobs, 600,000m2 of new employment floorspace and 2,000 new homes. The regeneration programme will boost the city’s economy by £1.3bn each year, according to the council.

The plans are a critical part of the city’s efforts to support its burgeoning creative, learning and research sectors and the booming professional and financial services industry.

  • More to follow


Spanish infrastructure and construction giant FCC has completed a major refinancing deal that it hopes will turnaround the business.

The firm said yesterday the refinancing was the largest ever in Spain and was a “major milestone for FCC in its efforts to turnaround the business”.

In early 2013 FCC’s chief executive Juan Bejar announced a plan to return the company to growth. Since then it has divested non-core assets to a value of over €1.5bn (£1.24bn) and has seen funds associated with high profile US magnates Bill Gates and George Soros investing in the company.

FCC is currently leading the delivery of significant projects such as the Panama City Metro, which will be inaugurated on 5 April. An FCC consortium is also due to start construction on lines 4,5 and 6 of the Riydah Metro later this year.

£5M in funding has been announced for improving walking and cycling routes in Wales.

Welsh transport minister Edwina Hart made the announcement yesterday and said 30 new projects would be fully or partly funded in the 2014/15 financial year.

Local authorities will receive money through the Safe Routes in Communities programme for crossings, traffic calming measures, cycle paths, footpaths, secure cycle facilities and lighting.


A direct air link between Scotland and the Isle of Man was restored yesterday.

First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed Isle of Man chief minister Allan Bell at Glasgow airport off one of the first flights restoring the link.

Salmond and Bell plledged last July to restore the air link before the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Citywing is now operating nine return flights a week between Glasgow and Ronaldsway airports.

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