Recovery can take hold in 2015 but crucial ingredients needed

Construction News Magazine – SME Spotlight 16/01/2015

With order books filling up and the financial situation for many businesses is looking rosy, it’s clear to see why 2015 is predicted to be the year when the recovery of the construction industry gets well under way. Looking towards the year ahead, there are a few key elements that we need to ensure take place in order to maintain a stable and prosperous market.

Above all else, investment in our current pool of workers and development of succession planning should take centre stage. Ensuring the upskilling of employees so that they contribute towards plugging the skills gap and helping to realise their career objectives is, a crucial factor in delivering continued business growth and improvement.

With 400,000 skills jobs lost in the construction industry during the recession and an estimated 400,000 due to be lost through retirement over the next five years, it is imperative that we put in place schemes to get the message to younger people at the grassroots level, demonstrating that careers in construction have a clear path to progression. By starting a drive towards recruiting more apprenticeships now, businesses will guarantee that in five years’ time they see the benefit of having a knowledgeable and confident professional who has been developed through their organisation.

The Health and Safety Executives’ revisions to CDM 2007, driven by the need to align the UK’s interpretation of CDM with the EU’s Temporary and Mobiles Construction Sites Directive (TMCSD), are expected to come into force during 2015. Whilst I support change which is designed to increase efficiency while reducing bureaucracy, we have an obligation to make sure the new regulations are implemented and remain mindful that the final outcome is a far safer environment for our staff to operate in.

The Government’s planning reforms, designed to make the system easier to implement and get the country building once again, have now been in operation for some three years. In many regions, like the Midlands, greater governance is required so that local authorities undertake their obligations and support neighbouring councils who have a land capacity issue. This will enable the unlocking of more land for much needed housing and employment to further boost the sector’s recovery. Should we see a change of leadership during the next election, any change in policy needs to be for the greater good, rather than a kneejerk reaction.

From SMEs to large blue chip organisations, we all have a commitment to guarantee that alongside our commercial aims, we take our responsibilities to the environment, our employees and the wider community more seriously than ever before. This should be the year where we introduce a record number of initiatives and introduce more efficient technology to ensure operations are as sustainable as possible.

O’Brien Contractors buzzing after London Wasps pitch success


O’Brien Contractors, winner of Construction News Awards 2014: Tomorrow’s Company, has partnered with leading European sports pitch specialist, GreenFields UK, for the installation of a new playing surface at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

The sports contractor secured the contract with GreenFields UK through its track-record of providing successful pitch installations for organisations, including: Oswestry School, Eastbourne Hockey Club, Kewford Eagles FC and Aston University.

The project at the Ricoh Arena involved site preparation works to remove the existing 8000m2 playing surface before GreenFields UK installed the new natural turf, farmed in the Netherlands. Works started on 5th December and was completed ready for Coventry City’s home league game with Fleetwood Town on 20th December.

Aviva Premier League side, London Wasps, had initially announced its intentions to replace the current pitch during the summer to provide a playing surface suitable for the demands of both rugby and football matches, however, following a consultation, the rugby club decided to lay an interim pitch to ensure both Coventry City and London Wasps had a surface required to give them the best chance of success.

O’Brien Contractors is the first and only large civil engineering firm able to offer turnkey solutions for a range of sports pitch installations, delivering projects ranging from athletics tracks, football pitches though to hockey and rugby pitches. This capability is all maintained in house – with no outsourcing required – by a team of experts with a proven track record of delivering design and build sports projects to a diverse range of exacting client specifications.

The sports installations that we deliver include natural sports pitches, such as those used for rugby, football and cricket, and synthetic and Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) pitches with surfaces suitable for just about every sport and user, from professional sports teams to schools and communities.

O’Brien Contractors appointed to St. Modwen’s Longbridge scheme

Civil engineering and groundworks company provides earthworks, groundworks and infrastructure services at Morgan Sindall’s regeneration of Longbridge town centre in Birmingham, West Midlands

Leading groundworks and civil engineering contractor, O’Brien, has been appointed to work on the second phase of St. Modwen’s regeneration of Longbridge.

In the second phase of the masterplan for the delivery of a £100 million town centre at the former MG Rover site, the development will feature the Midlands’ largest Marks & Spencer store comprising 150,000 sq ft, a six floor multi storey and 500 space car park and an additional 45,000sq ft of retail, restaurant and café space.

Appointed by principal contractor, Morgan Sindall, O’Brien will deliver a host of ground works – including construction of access roads, in situ concrete retaining walls, gabion walls and public realm works.
Phil Griffiths, Director, O’Brien, said: “The Longbridge redevelopment is one of the most high profile schemes currently taking place in the region and we are naturally very pleased to be chosen to deliver enabling and ground works to St. Modwen on this project.

Click below to watch our progress footage

“We are working to a really tight delivery programme to ensure that the Marks & Spencer store opens on time and it is paramount to the success of the scheme that our tasks are completed on programme.”

Mark Batchelor, St. Modwen construction manager, said: “Construction on phase two of Longbridge Town Centre is in full swing with 3,745 tonnes of steelwork going up for the new M&S store which is on track to open in time for Christmas 2015.

“More than 500 jobs will be created with the construction and opening of this second phase, adding to the 3,500 jobs that have already been created since we began regenerating Longbridge in 2003.”

Established in 1958, O’Brien Contractors is a second generation, family-run business that has gone from strength to strength and expanded into a range of new sectors.

From commercial units and Olympic-standard sports facilities, to railway stations, hospitals, universities, highways and commercial housing developments, O’Brien’s extensive experience consistently leads to the delivery of class-leading solutions.

Phil Griffiths added: “Some 85% of our work is repeat business and many of our new contracts come about because of referrals so it’s vital that we deliver the very best solutions at all times, either as principal or sub-contractor.”
To date, O’Brien has delivered projects for a range of top quality clients, including Jaguar Land Rover, Nestle, the National Trust, Morrisons, Aston University, Kier Construction, Wates and John Sisk.

St. Modwen, the UK’s leading regeneration specialist, aspires to create 10,000 jobs through the £1 billion Longbridge project which covers 468 acres.

Investing in a fitter and healthier UK

Sports Management Magazine – Vol 18 issue 4 2014

As the UK obesity statistics soar, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is investing over £1 billion in the next few years to help people get fitter and healthier through a range of programmes designed to make access to sports facilities easier for everyone.

These investments are crucial in getting people more active as a report released by the Institute of Economic Affairs in August 2014 revealed that Britain’s obesity problem is more to do with lack of exercise than with eating too much, or eating the wrong things. So, with grants and funding available to schools, sports clubs, community groups and local authorities, this is a great opportunity for neighbourhoods all over the country to get new sports pitches and facilities in place and get people more active.

With the latest statistics showing that 64% of UK adults are overweight or obese, as are one in every ten children when starting primary school, it’s vital that schools and communities make the most of this opportunity.

Pitching It Right

Investing in new sports facilities has to be done right for two important reasons: firstly, so that this crucial funding is put to best use, and so that people can and will use them for years to come. To do it right you need to work with the best sports pitch providers you can and O’Brien Contractors is the first and only civil engineering firm in the UK able to offer turnkey solutions for a range of sports pitch installations.

The company can deliver projects ranging from stadiums and arenas through to sports tracks and football pitches, tailored to meet your individual needs. O’Brien’s team of experts has a proven track record of delivering design and build sports projects to a diverse range of exacting client specifications and all of the work is completed in-house with no outsourcing required, meaning you get better value for money and projects are always delivered on time and on budget.

The sports installations the company delivers include natural sports pitches, such as those used for rugby, football and cricket, and synthetic and MUGA (Multi-Use-Games-Area) pitches with surfaces suitable for just about every sport and user, from professional sports teams to schools and communities.

Recent projects that O’Brien has completed include the construction of a FIFA-compliant football pitch; an Olympic-standard athletics track complete with long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault and a 400m running track; a football club with 11 natural turf pitches, changing facilities, entrance road and car park; and a full size sand dressed synthetic grass Hockey pitch, installed upon an insitu rubber shock pad on an engineered base for Oswestry School.

“From my perspective, it was a delight to work with O’Brien Contractors and would not hesitate to recommend you to anyone. One of the reasons for choosing O’Brien was the fact that we were dealing with the top management from the start (Mick) and because you are the actual contractors rather than a middle man. The construction itself wasn’t straight forward due to a large cut and fill exercise, but the end result is spectacular and we are very pleased with the outcome. In addition, all of the subcontractors used for the specialist areas (floodlights, fencing, and pitch surface) were very reputable with no shortcuts in quality once the contract had been won. Overall, we are very pleased.”
Phil Bowd – Bursar at Oswestry School