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CONFIRMED: Dublin’s tallest office building will house 2,000 workers

Mr Tennant and Mr McCann plan to appoint a contractor to build the 73m structure, which could house up to 2,000 office workers once it is completed.

Roland O’Connell of Savills said the property company – which is agent for the building along with CBRE – would begin the search for potential tenants now that construction had moved a step closer.

“We will be out pounding the pavement,” Mr O’Connell said. He added that Savills has had “some conversations” with companies in the market for offices in Dublin.

Construction will take two years, which is generally the lead-in time required to secure larger companies.

Mr O’Connell is expecting that Brexit could draw more commercial tenants to Dublin, but argues that it is the icing on the cake, as the capital’s office market is already strong.

The Irish Times reported on Wednesday that developer Johnny Ronan, now well out of Nama, is lodging plans to build the tallest building in Dublin on a site adjoining Tara Street railway station, topped by a restaurant and bar with panoramic views over the city.

The proposed tower would be higher than the Exo, rising to a height of 88m (nearly 290ft), compared to 59m (194ft) for Liberty Hall, just across the river Liffey, which was Dublin’s tallest building for decades until it was outstripped by Monte Vetro, the Google HQ in Grand Canal Dock, at 67m.


Published inIndustry News
Construction industry is set for 14% growth in 2018 - Aecom Ireland

The construction industry is set for 14% growth in 2018, according to an annual review by Aecom Ireland. The construction group's latest survey of clients, consultants and contractors found broad optimism in the industry. However that 14% growth figure is perhaps not as impressive as it might otherwise be, given the lows the industry is coming from and the huge demand that is in the market at present.

"The industry obviously collapsed but since 2012 there's been five years of consistent growth," said Aecom Ireland director John O'Regan. "But output in the industry is still significantly below the 12% of GNP which would be the norm for the construction industry. So while it's very positive that there's continued growth, and certain areas are flying ahead, there are also areas that need to catch-up, for example housing, infrastructure, transportation, utilities."

Reflecting that imbalance, Aecom expects the commercial market - particularly in the docklands area of Dublin city centre - will remain the driving force of growth in the industry. "In the 12 months passed and the 12 months ahead we will continue to see a lot of construction activity in that sector, which is great as it's meeting the demands that are out there," he said. "The challenge is that there are other areas, like housing, whilst their increasing, they're not really increasing at the rate that's required to service the economy."

Mr O'Regan said there is no easy explanation for the continued lag in the housing market, in the face of huge demand from would-be buyers. Instead there are a number of factors at play, all of which contribute to the current situation. "They range from funding, planning, viability, affordability, procurement routes for social housing, so it has taken longer than we all would have hoped to get to the point where it's accelerating," he said.

One suggestion put forward by AIB is to cut the rate of VAT on developers to 9%, which it said will boost profit margins and in turn help to boost the amount of houses being built. Mr O'Regan accepts that such a move would be contentious, but said anything that might boost the number of new homes coming on market is worth considering. "I think we all recognise that the crisis in housing comes from lack of supply," he said. "Anything that increases the viability of developers will increase supply," he added.


Published inIndustry News
Construction activity increases at fastest pace since June

Civil engineering returns to growth, while housing is again the strongest performer

Irish construction activity rose at a faster pace during December as new orders showed strong growth, the latest industry snapshot shows.

The Ulster Bank construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) found improving economic conditions supported a higher level of new orders last month, while the 12-month outlook also brightened. The rate at which activity increased was the sharpest since June.

The seasonally adjusted index rose to a “very elevated” reading of 58 in December, up from 56.7 the previous month and stretching far above the 50 level that signals an expansion in construction activity.

Inflationary pressures remained elevated, however, with input costs rising to the greatest extent in six months, as respondents reported higher prices for materials such as insulation and steel, as well as fuel, insurance and staff.

Housing was again the strongest performing sector, with Ulster Bank’s chief economist in the Republic of Ireland, Simon Barry, describing it as “an encouraging sign”.

Commercial activity also increased at a rapid rate, while there was “a welcome return to growth” for the civil engineering category after six months of decline.

Solid growth

Respondents to the survey reported “solid” growth in employment, although the pace of hiring eased to its slowest rate since March 2015.

“A robust and strengthening pattern of new orders, which picked up to a four-month high, should underpin further gains in both staffing levels and wider activity in the months ahead,” Mr Barry said.

The rate of purchasing activity “remained sharp” in December, but was slightly slower than in November.

The construction PMI, when combined with PMIs for the services and manufacturing sectors, as well as data on retail sales, housing supply and household income, pointed to an Irish economy that was “carrying considerable momentum”, Mr Barry added.

These improving conditions, in both the construction sector and the wider economy, supported confidence among firms that activity will increase further over the coming year.


Published inIndustry News
Carillion collapses as banks refuse to lend it any more money

UK construction and services company Carillion, which is involved in six projects in Ireland, has collapsed after banks refused to lend it any more money.

This throws hundreds of major projects in doubt and brings down one of the UK government's most important suppliers.

The company is involved in six projects in Ireland, including five schools and the Carlow Institute of Further Education.

It was responsible for the design, build, finance and maintenance of the six buildings on four sites in Meath, Carlow, Wicklow and Wexford.

Carillion was forced into compulsory liquidation after costly contract delays and a downturn in new business.

This prompted a string of profit warnings and a first-half loss of more than £1 billion.

"In recent days we have been unable to secure the funding to support our business plan and it is therefore with the deepest regret that we have arrived at this decision," Chairman Philip Green said.

"This is a very sad day for Carillion, for our colleagues, suppliers and customers that we have been proud to serve over many years," Mr Green added.

Carillion's creditors include RBS, Santander UK, HSBC and others. It has debt and liabilities of £1.5 billion.

Employing 43,000 people around the world, including 20,000 in Britain, the 200-year-old company runs public services from hospitals to train lines and ministry of defence sites.

It has also built construction projects such as London's Royal Opera House, the Suez Canal road tunnel and Toronto's Union Station.

In July last year it won contracts to build Britain's new High Speed 2 rail line, a major project that will better connect London with the north of England.

Tension around Carillion has been ratcheting up for weeks, forcing the UK government to hold a string of crisis meetings to discuss how they should respond.

Concerns over school projects after Carillion collapse

Unions have argued that taxpayers should not bail out the failing company.

Carillion said the government would provide the necessary funding to maintain the public services carried out by its staff, while PricewaterhouseCoopers will oversee the process.


Published inIndustry News
Cork and Limerick will be barometer of progress in 2018

Next year will be critical for Ireland’s efforts to resolve its housing crisis and critical infrastructure issues, writes Tom Parlon.

With major investment in housing and infrastructure from Government in the pipeline, the Construction Industry Federation expects a significant increase in both areas.

How and where this investment translates into construction activity on the ground will be the challenge in 2018.

The Government will set out the first step in a journey to Ireland 2040 with the launch of the new National Planning Framework in early 2018. This document will set out the spatial strategy for this country’s development over the next 25 years.

It’s our belief that Cork and Limerick’s progress or otherwise should be the yardstick we measure our progress in housing and infrastructure next year.

If we get the Cork/Limerick region’s development right, then we can be more confident that we’re developing a balanced and sustainable economy.

If the inevitable growth in residential, commercial and infrastructure is concentrated solely in Dublin, or not spread more evenly across the regions, then alarm bells should be ringing about the long-term sustainability of the plan.

Within this context, Cork/Limerick should be developed as a complementary counter-balance to the sprawling unsustainable growth that has seen the greater Dublin area now account for nearly 50% of GDP.

This situation is untenable for the regions and for the capital. The Irish economy and its citizens will be best served with Dublin operating as a global city, connected to thriving regions by world class infrastructure.

We need to rise above parochial interests and understand our relative size in the global economy; we should view Ireland as one region and develop and connect our urban centres accordingly in one network.

Currently, we have a capital city that it is flattening out across the Leinster region, whilst the regions are being denuded of people by a lack of opportunity.

It was unsettling to see that population in regional areas had declined and that in the recent CSO Census data on employment that Dublin’s daytime population swells by 27% as over 148,000 people commute into the city for work due to the lack of opportunity in their local area.

This is part of a global trend where people are moving to urban areas. Some 60% of the population live in urban areas and this is expected to reach 75% by 2050.

The reality is that if we don’t develop regions like Cork/Limerick rapidly then the current trend of urbanisation will see Dublin become unsustainably dominant in terms of population and economic growth.

From a construction industry perspective, many thousands of our employees are amongst those swelling the Dublin population daily to work.

With over 30,000 small enterprises operating in the sector, the industry is dispersed across the country and as a result, will be instrumental in delivering the roads, rail, housing and general construction that will dictate whether the NPF is a success.

It’s essential that the Government nurtures construction SMEs with the same levels of support that the farming and retail sectors benefit from.

The other key benchmark of success next year will be housing delivery. CIF analysis shows that 14,917 new houses were started in the Jan/Oct period this year.

This represents an increase of 35.6% in the commencement of new housing from 11,000 to 14,917 units up to October 2017.

The ESRI recently upgraded the required housing output target for Ireland from 25,000 per year to 35,000 per year. Simply put, where there is finance available, construction is occurring strongly. Hotel, commercial, student accommodation and particular types of housing are also showing strong activity.

However, there is a decade of pent-up demand for more housing that currently surpasses the levels of finance available. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy have introduced key initiatives over the past few years and they are pulling all the levers they can to unclog the system.

These measures take time to wend through legislative processes before they can even begin to have an impact. Even from that point due to inertia in the planning system, the impact of measures are often two years in the future.

Then, due to the time it takes to build modern housing, you can be looking at five years from launch of Government strategy to handing over the keys to a homeowner — if everything goes well and there is no change of Government.

As an example, the Government formally announced the establishment of the Homebuilding Finance Ireland agency in the budget this October. This agency will command €750m to go where the banks fear to tread and invest in housebuilding outside Dublin.

Legislation is required and within the current political environment, you can foresee many challenges to its progress to the Dáil. Without political consensus, this legislation could take a year to get through; even longer, if there’s an election

Fortunately, a number of both Mr Donohoe’s and Mr Murphy’s initiatives have been in place for a couple of years.

As a result, we expect these to bite down next year with a significant increase in the rate of commencements and completions. The rate of new house commencements this year was up 35% and might break 15,000 this year for the first time in nearly a decade. We expect this rate to be significantly higher by this time next year.

Finally, back to our barometer of success: Cork and Limerick. The rate of commencements in these areas in 2017 was relatively static compared to 2016. Most of the new houses being started were in the greater Dublin area.

We could approach 25,000 commencements in 2018 with the right conditions.

However, if a significant proportion of these are not in the Cork and Limerick urban centres (and other urban centres), increased housing output will become a pyrrhic victory as Ireland’s economy continues to become unsustainably imbalanced.

Tom Parlon is the director general of the CIF


Published inIndustry News
Intel cleared to build second huge plant at its Kildare base

THE IRISH SUBSIDIARY of tech multinational Intel has secured planning permission which could help the firm create a major new chip-manufacturing facility.

Last year, Intel Ireland submitted a revised planning application for an 88,000 square metre manufacturing plant in Collinstown Industrial Park, Leixlip.

This application has been granted by Kildare County Council and could result in the development of a plant to manufacture new semiconductor technology out of Intel’s base in the county.

Speaking about the announcement, County Kildare Chamber chief executive Allan Shine said this planning permission will now allow Intel Ireland to bid for the tender of a new chip manufacturing plant from its head office.

He added that a successful bid for the tender could result in a €3.6 billion investment bin manufacturing facilities in Leixlip.

The project could create 3,000 construction jobs and also up to 850 full-time jobs once developed, according to the chamber.

The planning permission also included the development of a two-level water treatment building, a multi-level car park and a two-level air compressor building.

The move comes a year after Intel Ireland announced plans to cut jobs at its Irish operations. Previously the firm also stated it would move away from hardware manufacturing towards the development of cloud-based software.

Recent job cuts

If the bid for the new facility is secured by Intel Ireland from head office, it would add to Intel’s already sizable operation in Co Kildare.

The company already employs thousands of people at its local plant, which is one of the biggest manufacturing operations in the Republic.

Last year Intel Ireland confirmed that it would trim its workforce in Ireland as part of a global jobs cull.

It said that restructuring activities would see 12,000 positions axed worldwide. Staff here were told that the company’s Irish workforce would be reduced by 11%.

Despite the rollback on its Irish activities, Intel stated its operations in the Republic remained “critical to the future growth of the company”.


Published inIndustry News


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