Monday, 14 November 2016

Brexit. Trump. Economic forecasts. JMS - growth in the shadow of headline gloom. Daniel Staines

What a world. 

Hand on heart I don’t believe any but the brave really expected the Brexit vote to take us out of Europe and the relative stability of ‘the past’. And, again, who truly thought that an outspoken businessman and reality show host would become President Elect of the United States of America.

The foundations of traditional stability – politically, socially and economically – have been well and truly shaken and the watch word is uncertainty.

Is it really possible to make viable forecasts in such uncertain times? So what are we to make of last week’s report in the Business section of BBC News online. It said: “The UK’s construction sector recorded its weakest performance for four years in the July – September quarter”. 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that “Construction volumes fell by 1.1%”.
The figures measure the first three months following the Brexit vote.

Similarly, Experian published a revision to its growth forecast. They have downgraded construction’s growth to 1.7% from their April forecast of 2.9% and suggest it will remain at 1.7% through and into 2018. The illustration (right) is from the Experian report.

The economist, Michael Dall, from Barbour ABI reacted to the report saying, “Had the vote been to Remain, I would have expected a stronger second half of the year so growth overall would be better for 2016.

Add to this doom laden missive the latest from SIG who issued a profit warning as its chief executive, Stuart Mitchell stepped down.

This is the big picture of course.

But, should we let it affect us. Do we follow a forecast or react to it by continuing to operate positively, smartly, efficiently, professionally. 

Over the past two years, JMS has both physically and financially doubled in size. We are in a sound financial position with a full (if not over-full) order book and a strategy for further sustained growth and geographical expansion. 

Both the London office and Chelmsford office have just signed contracts for new, larger premises and the Midlands office is knocking walls down to accommodate more staff. And just last month we opened a Nottingham office. We are growing and we are exceeding our targets.

Be sure though. Such growth is no frivolous finger to economic forecasts. JMS expends its service network with control and stealth.

We spread slowly geographically but grow intellectually by developing a broad combination of skill-sets which are networked across several self-motivated offices. This gives clients the benefits of regional project management, whilst drawing on top level expertise from across the group, to skilfully support each technical discipline within the project.

As we continue to grow, we take advantage of our ability to rapidly alter direction, to absorb changing circumstances and maintain our ‘can do attitude’.

Brexit, what Brexit. Gloom, what gloom. Forecasts – we’ll stick to our own thank you. 

And as for you Mr Trump, one thing you do understand is construction, so you’ll appreciate our optimism ... with or without your wall in our project pipeline.

We add value to every project we have been,
are, and will be equally proud to support.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

From brown site to green light - and more

From brown site to green light

The green light was given following a public consultation by South Cambridgeshire District Council in June on the planning application by Bloor Homes.

This was for the first 92 of 10,000 homes being built on the old RAF Oakington base off the A14 north of Cambridge.

The plans included the look and feel of the new homes, spacing, layout, trees, landscaping and areas for children to play. The application also covered the layout and location of roads, paths and cycleways.

Cllr Tim Wotherspoon, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning, said: ‘We already have a school building in place but the first homes being given planning permission, and building work being just around the corner, is a huge landmark.’

Kieran and the Chelmsford team have been working with Bloor Homes on the first phase of this long awaited new homes development in Cambridgeshire.

The 10,000 new homes will have an anticipated population of 24,400 - similar to Huntingdon up the road.

Getting to, from and around Northstowe will be simple and easy.  Northstowe has been designed with fully integrated transport choices in mind offering sustainable options that promote healthy living.

Nature will never be very far away to the residents of Northstowe and this will help to promote health and wellbeing.

Award Winning Barons Keep

Tom Jeffcoat of the Midlands office is about to start Phase 2 of the award winning Barons Keep project.

The award is the prestigious Hammersmith Society Environment Award

The project was described as a "sensitively designed new roof extension to a 1920s’ mansion block. The sweeping curving eaves of the new projecting roof complement the existing house style and create a crisp skyline enhancement."

Barons Keep is situated on the western edge of what was the Gunter Estate, the land purchased piecemeal by James Gunter from 1799 and mainly used as market gardens until it was developed for housing from the latter C19th onwards. Barons Keep was built in 1937, a U-shaped range of apartment blocks designed in ocean-liner style overlooking a private garden.

The orientation of the buildings was to provide each apartment with a view over the open land on the other side of Gliddon Road, formerly St Paul's School playing fields, but now occupied by Hammersmith & Fulham West London College.

The site is surrounded by a low brick wall with modern wrought-iron fencing and gates and low hedges, and a number of mature trees. At each end of the gardens are two circular beds planted with flowers and grass, linked by a rectangular grassed bed with one tree. The access roads are private and now used for car parking.

All the world's a stage

London’s Shaftesbury Theatre is as proud of its £5 million extension as a we (JMS) are proud to have been part of the extraordinary project.  that will update its technical capabilities and enable it to host larger productions.

The project was driven by the owners, the Taffner family, who have huge pride and they don't want a dilapidated wreck – they want a state of the art building for the theatre and its productions.

The development, on the roof of the West End theatre, introduced a new flytower, allowing the venue to stage larger productions with more complicated production requirements. Previously, they were only able to use the flytower to support a weight of around 12 tonnes. The newly completed tower will allow the Shaftesbury’s flytower to take weights of between 30 and 35 tonnes.

The new tower will also give the theatre space to store complicated scenery. Large pieces of scenery from the first act can now be stored easily, up and out of the way, into one of the galleries stage left and right. This provides a greater flexibility for producers to be more creative - essential for big West End productions.

The distinctive saw-tooth form is designed to accommodate windows and smoke vents, among other things. Strips of weathering steel clad the structure, giving it a burnt orange colouring that references the facades of neighbouring buildings.

The original Renaissance-style building was designed by renowned theatre architect Bertie Crewe in 1911 and was the first steel-framed playhouse in London. It features ornate stonework, a turret and an auditorium with an openable rolling roof.

"Whilst maintaining the grace and beauty of the Shaftesbury, we now have a contemporary addition that enhances the facilities of the theatre, giving us the capacity to accommodate the increasing demands of productions," said theatre chief executive James Williams.

We add value to every project we have been,
are, and will be equally proud to support.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Foundations - a JMS signature (Ian Cannons)

Tippers R Us have just completed a new recycling centre in Kesgrave near Ipswich. It is designed to handle in the region of 2,000 tonne of material a day using a concrete retaining wall system to create bays to store a variety of products including construction and demolition waste as well as crushed materials and recycled stone and sands. 

To process the materials, a new aggregates wash plant was to be installed - which is where JMS came in, in the shape of Ian Cannons, Peter Hansen and Alex Smith.

JMS were appointed to design the foundation bases and associated support structures on which the new plant would be installed.


Part of the equipment was designed in Italy by specialist manufacturer COMEC, situated in Treviso, Venice which was to integrate with the main processor, designed and manufactured by McCloskey Equipment in Didcot. 

The heavy duty machinery combines crushers, vibrating screeners, trommel screeners as part of the waste recycling plant.

Heavy duty running 24 x 7 needs well designed and constructed foundations - heavy duty foundations.

Our job was to liaise with the international design team to provide a package of structural calculations, details and drawings.

The images here, show the work in various stages of construction.

Following the successful construction and installation, we have been appointed to design a sheet pile wall for a water storage facility. 

Great teamwork internally and externally - well done to all involved

We add value to every project we have been, 
are, and will be equally proud to support.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Travel Plans - Cycle, walk, share, ride (Mark Jones)

The aim of an official Travel Plan is to support the Government's mission to achieve sustainable developments and reduce single-occupancy cars by suggesting the accessibility and benefits of alternative, greener and healthier modes of sustainable transport.

Under the Government's National Planning Policy, section 4 is about Promoting sustainable transport - green is good but sense and pragmatism must prevail. 

Getting the balance between objectivity and deliverability is the primary role of the TP Coordinator.

Paragraph 34 states:  Plans and decisions should ensure developments that generate significant movement are located where the need to travel will be minimised and the use of sustainable transport modes can be maximised.

Para 35 goes on;  ... developments should be located and designed where practical to:
  •  accommodate the efficient delivery of goods and supplies;
  • give priority to pedestrian and cycle movements and have access to high quality public transport facilities;
  • create safe and secure layouts which minimise conflict between traffic and cyclists or pedestrians, avoiding street clutter and where appropriate establishing home zones.

And 36 gives us the Travel Plan: A key tool to facilitate this will be a Travel Plan. All developments which generate significant amounts of movement should be required to provide a Travel Plan.

Enter stage left - TP Coordinators, part of the JMS Group.

Critically, the requirements of the Travel Plan don't end with addressing the issues in development and facilitating practical applications throughout, but communicating the benefits and availability of sustainable transport alternatives to the new home owners.

TP Coordinators (operating from the JMS offices in Chelmsford) offer the following Travel Plan services:
  • Travel Welcome Packs.
  •  Travel Plan Framework to support planning application.
  •  Promoting sustainable modes of travel. Monitoring, surveying and analysing the performance of Travel Plans.
  •  Liaising with key stakeholders such as local authorities & public transport providers.
  •  Negotiate with local suppliers such as cycle stores.
  •  Manage Travel Plan budgets and administrate incentive vouchers.
  •  Organise Travel Plan steering groups.
  •  Personalised Travel Plans.

This takes the responsibility and legwork away from the developer putting compliance with the NP Policy in the safe hands of a JMS Group service. 
A generic leaflet (right) from TP Coordinators is intended to sew the seed of alternative transport as viable options for new residents.

It reads: 

Cycle, walk, share, ride
getting to know your new area, the healthy, friendly way.

And we suggest: 

Cycling is not just a healthy pastime, it’s a great way to get around your local area and to see sights you would miss when travelling by car. More and more cycle routes, parking facilities and safe learning schemes are being provided by local authorities who care about their communities. 

Hop on a bike and see for yourself - it’s practical, fun and healthy.

It’s not all Peter Kay and Sian Gibson when it comes to car share schemes. You can save money, cut Co2 emissions and make friends without having your own BBC1 sitcom. There are many regional and national schemes to join safely if you can’t make arrangements locally yourself. Just Google ‘lift share’ or ‘car share’ and your region and give it a go.

If you are able  - just walk. If you want to see more of your local area and its natural as well as urban environments, get a local map, join a local group, and get out there. Urban walking has grown into a huge and friendly ‘welcome all’ national pursuit. The dynamics of walking and the health benefits to be gained are vast and progressive. Just Google ‘walking groups’.

Park, hop on a bus ... and ride  - it’s as simple as that. Most towns and cities have good Park & Ride facilities to save you getting stuck in town centre traffic, clogging up the roads and breathing unhealthy emissions. If there isn’t an official Park & Ride, make your own. Find a suitable bus route with local parking and save yourself the urban hassle.

The leaflet includes some useful links to national schemes that may be useful to new homeowners who are also new to the area. These include:

When it comes to creating a Travel Plan bespoke to a regional development, the plot thickens. Urban, sub-urban, rural developments have different considerations; different environmental impact scenarios to deal with; and different levels of accessibility to viable travel alternatives to 'the car'.

Let's take a brief look at Prospect Place, Framlingham. 
There are no Park & Ride schemes in Framlingham, but links to Ipswich and Norwich may be useful. 

Suffolk on board is a fantastic website that has already thought through the needs of the communities within its area of responsibility (click the image right).
The same site provides detailed information on bus routes, which help Travel Planners and residents alike: thank goodness for Google, taking the pain out of planning and research. Promoting walking as a healthy option is a good social responsibility, though has little impact of rural logistics. 

If you really are totally new to an area though and do want to take up or extend walking as a health option - this is the site for you:
The creation of a Travel Plan webpage for the development is essential. It should include walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing information for existing and prospective residents of the development, including the integration of real-time information links to bus services available on site.

Researching, packaging and presenting advice to the stakeholder, developer and residents alike is crucial to successful, effective travel planning. Every development is different. Every development needs expert support. 

If you would like more information on Travel Planning and the services of TP Coordinator, please call me, Mark Jones, on 01245 905886 or click the image below.