The latest chatter around the industry

Hansom new 2008

Another fine mess

To a tour of the mass of cabling, wires, pipework and ductwork that sits in the basement of the Palace of Westminster. It’s an extraordinary mass – well, mess – of stuff that seems to have just been installed on top of each other over the years, with some pipes dating back to the 1940s. One part of the basement has been nicknamed “submarine corridor” because as more and more bits have been added, there is now barely enough room to swing a cat. If the revamp of parliament ever gets the green light – and the definitive vote on it is supposed to be next year – there is an awful lot of work to do. 

Form an orderly queue

My hack’s tour included a visit to the rarely seen Cloister Court which used to double up as offices in the 1980s but is now hardly ever used. The guide suggested the court, which dates back to Henry VIII times, could be turned into a quiet reflective space for the 650 MPs and the House of Commons staff – who on a typical day number an astonishing 3,500. Not sure how much quiet reflection could on with those numbers using the court. 

One part of the basement has been nicknamed ‘submarine corridor’ because as more and more bits have been added, there is now barely enough room to swing a cat

Train of thought

Wates chief executive Eoghan O’Lionaird lives in a place called Virginia Water. It’s rather well-heeled, as it should be given its next door to posh golf course, Wentworth, which is thought to charge at least £175,000 to join. When O’Lionaird makes his way into Wates’s Euston office on Drummond Street, he tells my hack, the best way is to catch the train to Waterloo. “I didn’t think a place like Virginia Water would have a train station,” my man quipped. “It’s a pop-up,” came the reply.

Parlez-vous franglais?

Another UK firm bought by an overseas rival: this time, Scottish QS Thomas & Adamson has been taken over by French rival Egis. Senior T&A partner Alastair Wallace admits his French is about as good as the PG Tips monkeys but, handily, his wife can speak the language. And, even more handily, his daughter is a French teacher. That’s the interpreters sorted, then.

Location location

Mace chief executive (for now) Mark Reynolds tells my hack the firm has no plans to leave its City HQ at 155 Moorgate. The firm has been there since 2012 and Reynolds says they want to stay put – despite building owner Landsec seemingly intent on redeveloping it. “They did put that in their business plan but they haven’t officially told us that,” he says. An inkling of why they might want to comes when Reynolds admits: “It may be the ugliest building in London – but it’s a great location.”

No laughing matter

At last week’s CIH conference in Brighton, Emma Brooker, head of maintenance services at L&Q, tells my hack she had asked a colleague for any tips on doing a panel session. “You need a joke,” he told her. Brooker replied: “I don’t have any.” Here, I believe I can help. Bloke walks into a room with a pair of antlers on his head and says: “I’ve just been to a stag party.” Deery me.

The bands didn’t play on

The Co-op Live, Manchester’s troubled music arena, has been racking up the publicity in recent weeks. According to research, the venue is the worst-rated in the UK – even before it’s welcomed its first customers. Some feat, reckons the boss of QR Code Generator, Marc Porcar, who added: “The last thing we expected from such a grandiose venue is for it to review-bomb before it even opened.”

Scents and sensibility

As the NLA celebrated the 10th anniversary of its annual tall towers report last week, a pal of mine in the world of development tells me that not every tall tower has to “look like a perfume bottle”. An interesting comparison given there are some out there in that time that have caused a right stink.

Love is in the air

I’m not sure how this has ended up in my inbox, but the headline of the email is: ‘This is How to Perfect the Viral TikTok Picnic Proposal Trend’. Who knew?

image - picnic proposal trend


Send any juicy industry gossip to Mr Joseph Aloysius Hansom, who founded Building in 1843, at