Welcome to The Week That Was, a round-up of key events in the construction sector over the last seven days.

New construction product competence standards set out in white paper

The Competence Steering Group (CSG) has published a white paper setting out new standards to determine construction product competency. The CSG, formed to respond to competency issues arising from investigations following the Grenfell Tower fire, concludes in the white paper that radical change is required.

The paper includes a proposal aimed at ensuring that all construction professionals apply construction product competence consistently. The white paper titled "Built environment – proposed construction product competence standard" sets out the standard, which comprises five levels of competence and a methodology that defines how the different industries can map these levels consistently to their competence frameworks.

The paper has been published now to give the built environment sector time to review the proposals and consider how they should be applied. It is hoped that, by the time the proposals go through the formal standards process, the industries will be able to provide feedback though public consultation.

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HS2 wins injunction to ban 'disruptive protests' on HS2 route

A High Court judge has granted HS2 Ltd an 'extensive' injunction along the length of the route from London to Crewe in an effort to prevent unlawful protests.

The order from the Court makes going onto HS2 land without permission or disrupting work a potential contempt of court, for ignoring a judge's ruling. The judge, Mr Justice Julian Knowles, says that the injunction struck "a fair balance" between the rights of protestors and the general rights and interests of HS2 and others affected by the protests, including the national economy. However, the order is considered to be one of the most far-reaching of its kind in history and opponents claim it will stifle peaceful opposition to the development.

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Project starts decline in wake of rising material, energy and fuel costs

A September 2022 analysis by construction data specialist Glenigan has revealed a 48% decline in project starts since last year.

The main contributor to this decline appears to be a decline in major projects with a value over £100m, which fell 54% in the preceding 3 month period and 74% year-on-year, while projects under £100m were down 35% in the preceding 3 months and 30% on 2021. The soaring costs of materials, energy and fuel all appear likely drivers to this decline, although Glenigan also considers that the lack of clarity on the Government's new Building Regulations Part L is likely to have softened new activity while developers look to achieve compliance with the new standard, stalling new developments until the requirements can be met.

Despite the significant decline set out in Glenigan's assessment, its economics director, Allan Wilen, remained confident in Glenigan's prediction of an industry recovery by 2023.

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Leicester City granted permission to expand stadium

Leicester City Football Club has been granted planning permission to expand the King Power Stadium by 8,000 seats. The provisionally approved expansion will take capacity to over 40,000 seats, making it the 10th largest stadium in the Premier League, and will also include a new hotel and business centre, an events arena and a fan store. The plans also include new residential flats (some of which will be affordable) with specific details and a financial deal to be agreed with Leicester City Council.

The project will see more than 1,000 jobs created during the construction and a further 1,000 permanent positions to cover the new facilities. The plans were granted permission following a public consultation and the football club has since revealed it has purchased a nearby site, which is not currently part of the development.

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Rail disruption persists following cable damage

Engineers have been dealing with significant cable damage on lines between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington and routes through Stevenage this week. The disruption has been widespread, with many delays and cancellations seen. Mourners hoping to attend the late Queen's funeral on Monday 19 September were unable to make it as a result of the disruption. The problems on Great Northern and Thameslink lines through to Stevenage are likely to last until Saturday 24 September.

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HSE to investigate death during Gatwick Railway Redevelopment Project

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is investigating the death of a slinger signaller at Gatwick Airport in July 2022. Marius Badiou died during a lifting operation as part of the redevelopment of the railway at Gatwick Airport. Costain is the main contractor completing the project. The British Transport Police have now concluded their investigations and have handed over to the HSE to determine whether there were any breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

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Thanks to Harry Collins and Lauren Butler for contributing to this week's edition. Disclaimer: The information in this publication is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. We attempt to ensure that the content is current as at the date of publication, but we do not guarantee that it remains up to date. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.