Our pre-election campaign, launched last week, gathers momentum

Nothing’s changed

Continued investment in the schools renewal programme must be maintained. Clearly, in the short term, it provides much needed employment and income to the many companies, large and small, within the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme’s extensive supply chains. This in turn supports the economy. 

More compelling, however, is the original driver for BSF, which has still not changed. We still have many schools that are below standard and are not conducive to modern teaching; we must provide learning environments that are flexible, inclusive, and attractive and where teachers want to teach and children want to learn. We must also not forget how BSF schemes extend into the wider community. To abandon them while the country is trying to recover from recession would be so shortsighted.

Whichever party is in government after the election must not leave the cake half–baked. They must see this through – it is fundamental to the recovery and future prosperity of this country.

Rob Melling, chief executive, Curtins Consulting

Come together

I am delighted to support Building’s campaign. It is critical that the industry join together to lobby the government for continued investment in construction activities, not only to secure jobs but for the benefit of the economy as a whole. For the first time, thanks to the LEK/UKCG report, we now have clear analysis and evidence of the key role construction plays in sustaining our economy. Never has it been more important for the sector to make its business case.

Paul Drechsler, chief executive, Wates Group

The housing block

May I congratulate you on your editorial this week and on your new campaign, Charter 284. Please count me in as a fully paid up supporter. May I add a couple of points on the question of the regulatory burden on housebuilding?

There are specific concerns about the prescriptive nature of the mayor’s draft London Housing Design Guide and the future of private rented residential development the government is trying to promote. We would like to see a revival of the London mansion block – the last great flourish of development in this sector – and the hotel style of suited rooms off double banked corridors that this model requires would be prohibited by the last draft regulation we saw.

We are also concerned about the cost of uncertainty created by the multiple layers, and silos of approval required for housing schemes, particularly the subjective nature of approvals. In addition to the local planning authority, these days you will be faced with a Cabe design review panel, the Greater London Authority and local design review panels (much promoted by the RIBA), all with a different take on the guidance.

So, once again, congratulations on identifying this issue as a significant brake on the economy. Lack of supply and mobility in housing multiplies the economic malaise through all kinds of secondary impacts on the labour force, on health, on education. It is absolutely right to pick this out as one of your five campaigning platforms, and great to see that two of the five involve housing!

Ben Derbyshire, managing director, HTA Architects

More than money

I support the principle of Charter 284.

The case for construction will need to be pressed ever harder with whichever government picks up the poisoned chalice of the public finances.

But the industry’s case should focus not on expenditure (as if that were good in itself) but on the importance of improved buildings and infrastructure in achieving economic and social recovery. If construction is to demonstrate that case it will need to focus on ways of delivering more and better output for the same or (almost certainly) less money. That must not mean even tighter margins for contractors. It should mean more integrated delivery, an emphasis on good (but less often “iconic”) design, and a great deal more attention to the stewardship, improvement and thoughtful reuse of buildings.

John Bale, emeritus professor, Leeds Metropolitan University

All aboard …

An excellent idea and one I fully support – as in industry I believe that if we want the government to listen, we need to speak with one voice, and Charter 284 should help in that respect.
Dan Adamson

I can’t believe the government needs prompting on this: they should have supported construction along with the banks – then they would have had their new schools, hospitals and prisons to show for it in the end.
Brian Maczka

If Charter 284 can positively assist both current and future generations of construction professionals to better procure, deliver and innovate within a sector that is quite rightly described as “an engine of the economy”, then I fully endorse this initiative.
Bola Abisogun

Full support of Charter 284 from me … Any effort to increase the well being of UK plc GDP needs to be nurtured and embraced.
Peter Beirne

Programmes to improve our surroundings, schools, hospitals and infrastructure are every bit as important as bailing out the City – which creates wealth for a minority. Construction provides opportunities for people at every level of society.
Justin Henderson

Construction is too often ignored by the political parties despite its importance.
Tom Chalmers

A most sound campaign! Let’s see how the Westminster elite responds to this one!
Alex Kendall

Spending on construction will get the country moving again
Rob Dray