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Osborne lands £14m North London college


Osborne is preferred bidder for a £14m contract to build a new college campus in Colindale, North London.

The contractor will build the five-storey New Colindale Campus for Barnet and Southgate College, which includes a construction technology school, training hair salon and public library.

Osborne will be working alongside the college team lead by AECOM on the new building which forms part of a £550m  urban master plan to regenerate the wider Grahame Park area.

John Craig, Business Unit Director for Osborne’s Education sector, said: “We’re delighted to be preferred bidder, especially in the face of some strong competition.

“New Colindale presents a great opportunity, not only to deliver a striking built asset for the College, but to enable local regeneration and establish a legacy of which everyone can be truly proud”.

Talk to the Enquirer. To share your stories email Grant Prior or Aaron Morby... always off the record

Source: Construction Enquirer 

Costain green light for £130m A556 improvement


Costain has got the go-ahead to build a £130m bypass on one of the north west’s busiest A roads.

The new 4.7 mile dual carriageway will run between Junction 19 of the M6 near Knutsford and Junction 7 of the M56 near Bowdon.

It will take traffic away from local villages, by-passing Over Tabley, Mere and Bucklow Hill.

The new route will run to the west of the existing A556 and will be built below ground level where possible to minimise the impact on the surrounding area.

The road will rejoin the existing A556 for a short section near Bucklow Hill, which will be upgraded.

Improvements will also be made to the layout of Junction 7 of the M56.

The road improvement scheme has been  granted development consent by the Planning Inspectorate.

Source: Construction Enquirer

Best-ever start to a decade for car industry


Best-ever start to a decade for car industry

UK car manufacturing output rose by 2.8% to 132,570 in July, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 

This takes the total for 2014 so far to 923,884 — up 3.4% compared with the same period last year. 

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The UK automotive industry continued its renaissance in July, with the month marking five million car exports since 2010 — the best-ever start to a decade.” 

Of the 132,570 cars made last month, nearly 103,000 were for export. This is the highest ever July figure according to the SMMT, whose records date back to the 1920s.

It said that rising exports were due to new models being made in Britain and the increasing popularity overseas of premium and specialist brands such as those made by Jaguar Land Rover. 

Mr Hawes said: “This is a major mile-stone and a testament to the burgeoning reputation of UK automotive excellence and the demand for British-made cars.” He added that the SMMT expects annual car production to beat 1972’s all-time high of 1.92 million by 2017.


Source: Machinery Market

Autodesk Debuts Pixlr Membership & Desktop Product


Preview image

SAN FRANCISCO, August 28, 2014 — Autodesk debuted a major update to its Pixlr photo editing family, introducing three new membership offerings through a new user-requested desktop product for Windows and Mac. The paid Pixlr Pro membership unlocks the advanced features on the new Pixlr desktop offering for Windows and Mac, including the ability to access Pixlr offline for first time.

Pixlr Membership Offerings

Pixlr fans now have the option of selecting from three different Pixlr membership options:

  • Starter - Get started with basic photo editing tools and more than 600 effects — free*.
  • Essentials - Gain access to enhanced features such as advanced “Double Exposure” effects and additional effects, overlays, and borders simply by creating a free Pixlr account and signing in.
  • Pro - Pixlr Pro members unlock powerful photo editing tools such as “Influence Masks” effects, control over specific color channels, and more for just $14.99 per year or $1.99 per month. A paid Pixlr membership unlocks Pixlr for all desktop platforms, including Windows and Mac, and will unlock features in future versions of the Pixlr app for iOS and Android.


Pixlr—known for its Pixlr-o-matic, Pixlr Express, and Pixlr Editor mobile and online products —offers  photo editing features in a simple, easy-to-use interface for anyone looking to apply a quick fix to photos, or add a more personal touch with over 100 effects, 340 overlays, or 200 borders. Users can also erase imperfections with heal and red-eye tools, make photos pop by adding or removing color from select parts of photos with the “Color Splash” brush, add impact to photos by adding focus to specific elements of images with the “Focal Blur” tool, or transform photos into works of art with the “Stylize” feature that provides effects such as pencil sketch, watercolor, and many more.

“Over the past six years, Pixlr has grown a strong and passionate fan base, and we’re excited to share more ways to embrace its photo-editing features,” said Samir Hanna, general manager and vice president, consumer products at Autodesk. “These membership choices offer an even better experience to unlock your creativity and craft photo memories.”

Product Availability

Memberships can be purchased in the app, through the Mac App Store, and on the website. For more information, please

Autodesk, the Autodesk logo, and Pixlr, are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries. All other brand names, product names, or trademarks belong to their respective holders. Autodesk reserves the right to alter product and services offerings, and specifications and pricing at any time without notice, and is not responsible for typographical or graphical errors that may appear in this document. © 2014 Autodesk, Inc. All rights reserved.

*Free Autodesk software and/or cloud-based services are subject to acceptance of and compliance with the terms and conditions of the software license agreement or terms of service that accompany such software or cloud-based services.  

Source: Autodesk

Plans lodged for Cambridge new town phase two


Plans for 3,500 homes and three new schools for phase two of the proposed Northstowe new town in Cambridgeshire have been submitted.

Eventually up to 10,000 homes are planned on the former RAF Oakington site, making it the biggest new town in Britain since Milton Keynes.

The submission of the outline planning application by developer Gallagher and the Home and Communities Agency for the second major phase follows a start on preparatory works for the first phase of the vast project.

Paul Kitson, Senior Project Manager at the HCA for Northstowe said: “Things are definitely happening at Northstowe.

“We have adopted a ‘phased’ approach to development where facilities and road improvements are built hand-in-hand at each stage with new homes.


“The outline plans submitted today are further proof of that and, if approved, we look forward to working with local communities to develop further details to these outline plans.”

Preparatory work has recently started at Northstowe for the first primary school and first phase of new homes.  Gallagher Estates are responsible for the first phase of development at Northstowe.

Alan Joyner, executive director of Gallagher Estates said: “This planning application complements phase one and we are pleased that it includes the secondary school, additional primary schools, town centre, sports and community facilities which will create the next stage of a comprehensive overall development for a thriving new community.”

Phase two plan for old airfield the old airfield

  • 3,500 new homes
  • two primary schools, and a secondary school
  • the town centre including an employment area
  • significant recreation space and landscaped areas
  • a new ‘eastern’ sports hub
  • the remaining part of the ‘western’ sports hub (being built along with the new homes on the first phase)
  • A detailed plan for a road extending out of phase two to the south

Solar energy that doesn't block the view


A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window.

It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface.

And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU's College of Engineering, the key word is "transparent."

Research in the production of energy from solar cells placed around luminescent plastic-like materials is not new. These past efforts, however, have yielded poor results -- the energy production was inefficient and the materials were highly colored.

"No one wants to sit behind colored glass," said Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science. "It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent."

The solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight.

"We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then 'glow' at another wavelength in the infrared," he said.

The "glowing" infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells.

"Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye," Lunt said.

One of the benefits of this new development is its flexibility. While the technology is at an early stage, it has the potential to be scaled to commercial or industrial applications with an affordable cost.

"It opens a lot of area to deploy solar energy in a non-intrusive way," Lunt said. "It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there."

Lunt said more work is needed in order to improve its energy-producing efficiency. Currently it is able to produce a solar conversion efficiency close to 1 percent, but noted they aim to reach efficiencies beyond 5 percent when fully optimized. The best colored LSC has an efficiency of around 7 percent.

The research was featured on the cover of a recent issue of the journal Advanced Optical Materials.

Other members of the research team include Yimu Zhao, an MSU doctoral student in chemical engineering and materials science; Benjamin Levine, assistant professor of chemistry; and Garrett Meek, doctoral student in chemistry.

Source: Science Daily 

University wants builder for £27m sports centre


The University of Nottingham has started the search for a contractor to build a new £27m sports centre.

The single stage design and build deal is scheduled to get underway next February.

An OJEU notice stated: “The outline scope of works for the sports centre project will be: partial demolition of existing sports centre; the relocation of services supplying the existing sports hall and surrounding buildings, including the retained swimming pool which will remain in use throughout the project; the construction of a new building including but not limited to; a substantial new main sports hall, large fitness suite, clinical spaces and office accommodation.

“The project will also include the fit out of the whole building.”

Up to six firms will be invited to tender and expressions of interest must be made by September 17.

Source: Construction Enquirer

Go-ahead for new £12m bridge in Solihull


Construction will start in January on a new £12m bridge in Solihull after Government funding for part of the project was confirmed today.

A winner is due to be confirmed by the end of this month by The Metropolitan Borough of Solihull for the new A45 South Bridge

Transport minister Baroness Kramer has confirmed £8m in Government cash for the structure which will directly serve Birmingham International Airport, the National Exhibition Centre, Jaguar Land Rover and other local businesses.

She said: “This new bridge will reduce congestion and improve safety, and include new pedestrian and cyclist facilities.

“The £8.3 million the government is putting into this project is part of our wider economic plan of investment in our local and national infrastructure to help drive economic growth.”

The new bridge will replace the existing 150 year old structure carrying the westbound carriageway of the A45 over the West Coast Main Line.

It will create an extra westbound running lane and an improved access slip road to Birmingham International Airport.

A temporary bridge will be created during the work, allowing the route to remain open throughout.

The main works are due to start in January 2015 with completion in August 2016.

Councillor Bob Sleigh, Leader of Solihull Council said:  “We are now in discussion with our preferred bidder for this major project and will announce further details in due course.”

Source: Construction Enquirer

Osborne boss woos Balfour staff facing the axe


Osborne chief executive David Fison has questioned the latest round of industry mergers and believes smaller contractors will benefit.

Fison – who was previously chief executive at Skanska and managing director at Balfour Beatty Civils -spoke out as the Carillion/Balfour saga rumbles on.

And Fison is hoping to attract new staff to Osborne during the fallout if the merger goes ahead.

Fison said: “I am watching the merger moves of the large contractors and consultants with great interest.

“It is what big companies do to gain market share and maximise earnings by cutting costs through combining teams, offices, etc.

“What that means of course is laying people off, often the most experienced and therefore most expensive– usually described in press releases as ‘creating synergies’.

“But this is happening at a time when the construction industry is becoming increasingly aware that it faces major issues over resources, by which I mean people as well as materials and plant.”

Fison highlighted reports that show 300,000 people left construction during the recession and another 300,000 are due to retire shortly.

He said: “Replacing them will not be easy or quick.

“As investment in infrastructure and construction generally ramps us having enough good quality, trained people is going to be the deciding factor in what work firms have the capacity to bid for and deliver.

“The anticipated synergies in those big mergers may not evolve as companies find they need to hang on to resources.

“But if they do, big company efficiency savings look like being to the benefit of smaller companies.

“Most small businesses have a longer horizon, less ambitious profit ambitions and can offer secure job opportunities for construction staff.

“The jobs may not be so big but we are closer to our customers, more agile, and value what individuals have to offer.

“For staff, and in fact for clients, it’s a bit like choosing a restaurant.

“You can go to a top class hotel with formal service or the local restaurant round the corner.

“Both give you good food to suit your budget but with a different style. It’s just about making the choice. Smaller businesses have a lot to offer, I believe.

“We are looking forward to welcoming new recruits going forward.”

Source: Construction Enquirer

Carillion courts Balfour Beatty


Carillion courts fellow construction giant Balfour Beatty

Construction giants Balfour Beatty and Carillion continue to battle it out over a proposed takeover.

Carillion has sweetened its takeover offer for rival Balfour Beatty, arguing there is ‘powerful strategic logic’ in a merger. The company yesterday announced a 5% rise in pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of June to £67.5m, compared with £64.2m a year earlier.

According to Carillion, a merger would save both companies £1.5bn and reduce the cost base of the combined group by at least £175m a year by the end of 2016. Which would help cash-strapped Balfour Beatty who had swung back into profit, making £1m for the six months to the end of June, after taking a heavy financial loss of £4m for the same period a year earlier.

In a press release Carillion continues to believe there will be a financial benefit of a merger with Balfour Beatty and is therefore continuing to consider its position.

Balfour Beatty is currently working on the Corssrail project, while Carillion was given the £75m contract to expand Anfield’s stadium. Between the two companies they employ over 80,000 people.