A diplomatic spat puts building work on hold and delays to online national planning guidance bemuse eager developers; Lara Croft is bundled into Farringdon - plus, (surely?) the last ever red trousers story

hansom for i pad

Diplomacy on the rocks

The unseemly row between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar has now impacted on the Rock’s construction sector, we hear. According to local reports, Spain is blocking overland transport of building materials including rock, sand and aggregates, for fear these will be used to reclaim land from the sea. The Gibraltan government is implementing contingency plans to ship in the building materials it needs instead, to try to avoid delays to building projects. It’s not every day an international diplomatic spat threatens to knock your scheme off course, is it?

Cut out and keep

Visitors to RLF chairman Steven Barker’s office in Farringdon, London, may be surprised to be greeted by a life-size cardboard cut-out of computer game character Lara Croft, as played by Angelina Jolie in the hit 2003 movie Tomb Raider. The gun-toting action character, best known for having an ardent teenage boy fanbase, looms above the meeting area in Barker’s office. He says a member of his team nabbed it from a film studio on a RLF company away day, where staff were challenged to film a short promotional video about the consultant. Unexpectedly cheeky for a quantity surveyor!

Yet more planning delays

What to make of the launch of the government’s online planning guidance portal? The Cabinet Office trumpeted the launch last Wednesday, boasting that developers could access all the government’s cut-down planning guidance in one place. But developers eager to see the fruits of the government’s labours were greeted on the first morning by a holding page as the website - http://planningguidance.planningportal.gov.uk/ - hadn’t gone live yet. It was up and running later that week when Building checked back. Still, smacks of poor planning to me …

Looking for a cheque, mate?

Ever wanted to topple the Shard? Well, soon you can. Two London designers, Ian Flood and Chris Prosser, are seeking funding for a project to turn London’s most iconic buildings into a chess set. In Skyline Chess,
the Shard stands in for the dynamic queen; Canary Wharf is the king; Big Ben is the rook; the Gherkin is the bishop; the London Eye takes the knight’s place and a row of humble terraced houses form the pawns. The pair are looking for financial backing to the tune of £25,000 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to get the business off the ground. They also have plans for other cities including New York, Paris, Shanghai, Dubai and Rome. So,who’s for London vs Paris, then? You can find the Kickstarter page here.

Hordes head for the hoarding

Hot on the heels of London’s Open House festival on 21 and 22 September - which offers the public free access to some of the capital’s greatest buildings, including the Gherkin and Battersea Power Station - the UK Contractors Group is once again offering the public a look behind the hoardings of construction sites across the country on 27 and 28 September. Construction sites providing access include National Grid and Costain’s mammoth power tunnels below north London, and Cardiff University and ISG’s Cardiff Business School. The initiative is targeted primarily at young people. For more information visit www.opendoorsweekend.co.uk.

Ferguson flies undone

George Ferguson flying pants

It’s the story that just keeps on giving: George Ferguson’s red trousers. Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more to say about the trademark garment worn by the architect and Bristol mayor, another news item on them appears. This time, ITV local news filmed the mayor flying a “red trousers” kite ahead of the city’s kite festival last weekend. In footage which gives Boris Johnson a run for his money in the buffoonery stakes, George turns his back on the kite to look at the camera crew only for it to perform a swooping 180-degree manoeuvre behind his back. “Seems the trousers have a life of their own,” the mayor admitted on Twitter.

Send any juicy industry gossip to hansom@ubm.com