A boom in infrastructure projects is set to keep output in the West Midlands construction industry growing over the next five years, according to a report.
The forecast from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) says that road and rail projects will see output in the infrastructure sector soaring by more than 10% each year over the 2017-2021 period.
The massive £11 billion High Speed 2 rail link will make a substantial contribution to the gain, says CITB’s Construction Skills Network report.
A £1.8bn road improvement programme will also give the sector a boost, with works including the £335m motorway upgrades to the M6.
The CITB says that these big projects mean that overall construction output is forecast to grow at an annual average rate of 1.3% per year for the next five years, with 14,000 jobs created.
Its report forecasts that the most in-demand roles in the West Midlands construction sector between 2017-21 include carpenters, electricians, and construction process managers (+1,550). There will also be significant demand for scaffolders, construction trades supervisors, labourers and surveyors.
One of our region’s companies the Deeley Group – which specialises in construction and property development – has been in business for more than eight decades in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Not only does that provide the company with a fine pedigree in all sectors of industry but also allows it to be an accurate judge of the area’s economy.
The Deeley Group is currently undertaking projects for HORIBA MIRA in the very north of the county through to a new 82-bed private rental apartment scheme for Orbit in Stratford-upon-Avon – with lots in between.
That not only underlines the expertise of the Deeley Group but, according to managing director Peter Deeley, shows that industry in Coventry and Warwickshire is doing well. He said: “Economically we are the home to a myriad of successful companies and certainly our advanced manufacturing and engineering firms – many involved in automotive – are leading the way.
“That has been fuelled by several factors. Clearly expanding markets have played a part, but Jaguar Land Rover is now a global brand and has clearly upped its game in terms of design, engineering and build quality.
“With Aston Martin, Geely, BMW and HORIBA MIRA – and many of their supply chain – also in Coventry and Warwickshire, we are undoubtedly a global force in that sector and that fuels inward investment and, consequently, development.”
Deeley has performed strongly in the education sector in recent years undertaking projects for both The University of Warwick and Coventry University, Warwick School, Warwickshire College Group and various academies.
One project – the creation of student accommodation at Warwickshire College Group’s Royal Leamington Spa College campus – only came to fruition because of Deeley’s contacts and experience in dealing with pension and investment funds.
Peter added: “The college was looking to a development team in the private sector to fund such a scale of operation. So we put forward a structured package of funding, designing and building of the units. After talks with the college, the fund we introduced purchased 100 existing student units and we are building 100 now.
“So the funder will end with an investment of 200 student units in a very good location in the centre of Leamington, where property values make that an attractive investment proposition.
“The significance is that it really shows what local companies can provide when it comes to need. In short, if you have the requirement for a new building or housing there are always ways of providing funding and the ability to deliver.
“It is a specialised area but we understand the way the funds need to be structured. We believe we have an overall view of development that allows us to structure a package so all requirements are met. The college has its student accommodation, Deeley Construction is completing a sizeable building contract and the funder has a good investment.”
The CITB public non-housing sector is forecast to grow at an annual average rate of 3.6% in the short-term. A number of large projects will support expansion including the £500m Birmingham University campus redevelopment and a £37m science and health building at Coventry University, due for completion this year, says the CITB.
Lorraine Gregory, CITB Partnerships Manager for the West Midlands, said: “Although there is economic uncertainty, the West Midlands construction sector is set for growth, particularly in infrastructure.
“The outlook is positive because of a number of major projects either under way or in the pipeline. The biggest is HS2 which will provide multiple spin-offs in housing, business and recruitment opportunities.
“These projects and the job opportunities contractors are telling us about means this is a very good time to pursue a career in the construction industry. “CITB will continue working with employers to attract new talent into the construction industry and to train them for rewarding careers in the sector.”
Image: Warwick Hall, the new 1,000 -seat theatre at the centre of the Warwick School campus
‘Working in partnership’ is one of those buzz phrases that so many businesses try to claim but so few can genuinely prove to be true. But when it comes to the Coventry based Deeley Group – a leading property development and construction firm – it’s a commitment to partnership that sees the company celebrate its 80th anniversary in 2016 in a very strong position.
It is working with a range of clients and partners from across the Coventry, Warwickshire and West Midlands region as well as a host of national organisations.
If you take this area alone and travel from north Warwickshire down through Coventry and into the south of the county, the evidence of the firm’s work is clear to see.
At the moment, Deeley Construction is working on a major extension to the Holland & Barrett headquarters at Bermuda Park in Nuneaton – a site developed by the Deeley Group over four decades.
And, in Stratford, the company has recently started work on new keyworker, private-rented accommodation on behalf of Orbit in the Town Centre – a site developed in conjunction with two other companies as part of the ABD partnership.
Add to that an unwavering commitment to a host of community and charitable causes including the Belgrade Theatre Trust, the Heart of England Community Foundation and the Grace Research Fund (among many others) and the positive impact that one firm – started by bricklayer George Deeley in 1936 – can clearly be seen.
Peter Deeley, George’s son, is still heavily involved with the firm as managing director of the group.
He said: “Developing partnerships is something that has always been important to us as a company and I believe it’s critical in today’s market.
“Some of the work we are undertaking at HORIBA MIRA, with both Warwick and Coventry universities, with the likes of Orbit Homes and LondonMetric, is all about relationships and partnership.
“It’s not simply about being a contractor or developer – it’s about being a part of the team that is going deliver a project. The construction team is winning repeat work with a number of clients and, again, I believe that comes down to the fact that we are seen as a partner not a contractor.
“When working in this area, our local knowledge really is of benefit to the client – it cannot be underestimated how valuable that can be. We have 80 years’ experience in this region and in this sector – few can say that.
“Another important point to stress is communication. In any business, you meet challenges but we always find it’s best to be open and transparent and talk to the client and others involved – again, that’s what partnership is all about.”
The company has been held in high regard, almost from day one in 1936.
GW Deeley, as it was then, won acclaim for providing the ‘best air-raid shelters’ in Coventry soon after the firm was established – a key market at the time! Then, in the 1940s, the company won a great deal of work building council houses in the Coventry and Rugby areas.
The 1950s and 60s saw further expansion of the business as the company branched out into building schools and other public buildings.
It developed its own HQ in Torrington Avenue, Coventry, and Peter joined the firm.
“I ran my first housing development site in Balsall Common,” he said, “it came in on time and on budget!”
The 1970s and 80s saw further expansion for the company, both through natural growth and through acquisition, with the purchase of Garlicks, the oldest Coventry building company which began trading in 1862.
The firm even dipped its toes into international waters by creating a Saudi Arabian division to help with major construction projects in the wake of the oil boom in the country.
It was in 1981 when the group first became involved with Bermuda Park in Nuneaton which is one of the most striking examples of regeneration across the region.
Over the course of 35 years, the company has turned a former rubbish dump and open cast coal mine on the outskirts of the town into a thriving location where people, quite literally, work, rest and play.
More than 1,000 new homes have been created on the site as well as jobs for more than 2,000 people and, once again, Deeley has worked with a range of partners to bring it forward – from local MPs through to the local community, for whom new sporting and social facilities have been created.
In 2008, the company made a move of its own to a new, purpose-built headquarters, named George House, at the Coventry Business Park.
From there, its reputation as one of the most respected, independent construction and development companies in the West Midlands has continued to flourish.
Its Queensway scheme in Leamington has, again, been an exemplar in regeneration. It saw a manufacturing company rehomed onto another Deeley site in Southam and the brownfield site was then developed into retail, employment space and new homes.
Peter Deeley said: “As a company, we have always tried to be more than just a business, but a member of the community both where we are based and where we are working.
“We support several charities and community initiatives across Coventry and Warwickshire because we believe that is the right thing to do.
“Again, it all comes down to partnerships and that word might explain why we’ve made it to our 80th anniversary and are still going strong!”
(Image: Deeley Group’s, Mixed-Use, Queensway Development)
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We are an industry that, since the war, has suffered due to having to live through the cycles of boom and bust – we are currently entering a period of new positive activity due to the returning confidence to the market.
I think we saw the green shoots start last year and this recovery has continued with the Construction Products Association (CPA) forecasting growth in output in the sector by 5.3 per cent in 2015.
Our spread of activities continue into housing, commercial, educational facilities, student accommodation, retail and leisure where we are finding the ongoing expansion of all of these sectors.
To achieve these results of this increased workload we need to ensure that we continue to meet our clients’ aspirations in terms of time, cost and quality.
We continue to train where we can, but our industry does need to understand that we have an increased requirement of more training to be completed throughout the industry so to meet this growing demand.
Our clients still require us to cover all of their activities and as part of our service to our clients we have been building in Cambridge, Bedford, Hertford, Bristol, Evesham and Dudley as well as our immediate local area of Coventry and Warwickshire.
The issue that affects all of our developments is that of obtaining a planning approval for a project, a process that is certainly taking longer than anyone can envisage.
I sit on the Planning Group of CW LEP where we have been able to sign the authorities in our region up to a new planning protocol so providing a clear commitment to improving the current position – let us hope improvements can be made.
We continue to engage with all of our clients (an early start is sometimes required) as we develop our working relationships with them so to provide a completed project that is required to work for them.
Our continued success is testament to all at Deeley and I thank them for their commitment and effort.