At the end of a very busy year, here’s a reminder of the stories that stood out for our readers

Every week Building publishes the big impact stories that affect companies working in construction. Here we have compiled a list of the top 10 most read stories over the entire year.  

The list, based on unique page views according to Google Analytics, places the most popular stories at the top of the rankings. Where there are multiple articles on the same broad story we have grouped them together into one ranking.

1. O2 Arena roof destroyed as Storm Eunice batters UK

Published February

Large sections of the roof at the O2 Arena have been torn off by the storm bringing havoc to much of the UK.

Footage shared on social media shows significant damage to Richard Rogers’ 1999 building, located in north Greenwich and previously known as the Millennium Dome.

Storm Eunice has seen winds of up to 122mph in parts of southern England, with forecasters warning that it could be one of the UK’s worst storms in 30 years. Buildings have been damaged, bridges closed, train networks shut down and multiple accidents have been reported on the roads. 

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2. Cartel-buster names 10 demolition contractors at centre of bid-rigging probe

Published June

Demolition firms have been told to expect penalties running into tens of millions of pounds by the end of the year after the Competition and Markets Authority released its provisional findings into bid rigging by 10 companies following a years-long probe.

The CMA said its investigation, begun in March 2019, had found the firms had illegally colluded to rig bids for demolition and asbestos removal contracts worth over £150m.

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3. Russian oligarch linked to Putin has stake in firm building HS2

Published March

A firm part-owned by a Russian oligarch with links to his country’s president, Vladimir Putin, has a major role on building the HS2 project, Building can reveal.

Austrian civil engineer Strabag, part of the SCS joint venture which is undertaking more than £2bn worth of tunnelling contracts on the rail megaproject, is 28% owned by Rasperia Trading Ltd, a business itself owned by Russian industrialist Oleg Deripaska.

The Strabag website, which details the shareholding, describes Rasperia as one of its “core shareholders”.

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4. Modular construction emits 45% less carbon than traditional methods, report finds

Published June

Factory-produced homes can produce up to 45% less carbon than traditional methods of residential construction, according to new research by academics from the University of Cambridge and Edinburgh Napier University.

A study found that two modular housing schemes designed by HTA Design, consisting of a total of nearly 900 homes, saved a combined 28,000 tonnes of carbon.

Embodied carbon, which is emitted by the production and transport of materials during a scheme’s construction, currently accounts for around 11% of global emissions.

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5. Another City tower set for Bishopsgate as £600m plan gets public airing

Published July

Long-awaited plans for a new tower at 55 Bishopsgate in the City of London have been given their first public airing.

The project is being masterminded by funder Schroders, which bought the site at the start of 2016, and development manager Stanhope.

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6. Contractors update guidance for sites as heat emergency declared

Published July

Some of the country’s biggest contractors have begun issuing updated advice for those working on sites next week with the UK set to endure record-breaking temperatures in the coming days.

The government has issued the first ever national emergency red alert for heat for the first two days of next week.

The UK Health Security Agency increased the “heat-health warning” alert for England to level 4 – the highest possible – for Monday and Tuesday, with the Met Office forecasting a temperature on Monday of 40C for the first time.

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7. Countryside to close brand new £20m modular factory

Published July

Partnerships housebuilder Countryside is to shut its brand-new modular housing factory at Bardon, Leicestershire as part of a plan to reduce losses identified earlier this year in its manufacturing business.

Just two years ago the firm was trumpeting plans to invest £20m in the timber frame factory, designed to produce 3,500 homes per year at peak capacity, but after chief executive Iain McPherson left at the start of this year in the wake of a shock profit warning, Countryside’s modular housing business was identified as a major source of losses for the group.

Issuing a trading update to the City yesterday, in which Countryside said it was on course to hit reduced expectations for the year, the firm said the Board had taken the decision “to exit its site in Bardon”, which is the newest of three MMC factories owned by the group.

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8. Google buys London office building for £730m

Published January

Google has bought the 11-storey Central Saint Giles development in central London which contains some of its UK offices for £730m ($1bn).

The tech giant, which already rents around 40% of the Renzo Piano-designed building near Oxford Street, has agreed a deal to buy the development from Legal & General Group and Mitsubishi Estate. 

The £130bn-turnover company said the investment reflects its “continued confidence in the office as a place for in-person collaboration and connection”.

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9. Mace lands £350m London Justice Quarter contract

Published January

Mace has won one of the biggest post-pandemic London building jobs to come up for grabs, having been told it has landed a judicial complex in the Square Mile worth up to £350m.

Dubbed the Justice Quarter, proposals for client, the City of London Corporation, by architect Eric Parry were given the green light in the spring.

No official announcement is expected until next week because of the 10 day cooling off period required under public procurement rules but Building understands Mace was told last week that it had beaten Multiplex for the scheme. Others thought to have run the rule over the job, which is worth between £300m and £350m, included Lendlease.

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10. Aston Villa releases images of £100m stadium makeover ahead of planning submission

Published August

Aston Villa has given fans a preview of its proposals to revamp its Villa Park stadium as it announced a planning application for the refurbishment will be submitted at the end of the month.

The West Midlands club, which currently stands 13th in the Premier League table, wants to increase the capacity of its stadium from 42,785 to more than 50,000.

Potential bidders for the job, designed by Grimshaw and Trivandi, would include Buckingham, the firm behind the rebuild of Liverpool’s Anfield Road end, McLaren, which has completed new training grounds for Leicester City and Spurs, and McLaughlin & Harvey which built the main athletics stadium that was used at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

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