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Bronzeoak House building contract awarded

Following a tendering process, Tandridge District Council has awarded the contract to redevelop Bronzeoak House in Caterham to Claritas Group Ltd.

The development, which forms part of the Council Housing Building programme will provide affordable rented housing to applicants on the Council’s housing register who cannot afford to buy or rent on the open market. Twelve flats will be available to families and 14 flats to older people. The sheltered housing is designed to meet the needs of local older people including those looking to downsize from larger homes.

The Council is working with Claritas to make sure disruption to businesses and residents is minimised. Claritas Group Ltd is registering the site with the independent Considerate Constructors Scheme and will adhere to their code of conduct throughout the construction phase, to ensure the site:

  • Is well maintained.
  • Respects the local community.
  • Protects the environment.
  • Adheres to the highest level of health and safety and values its workforce.

Jon Wardle, Chief Executive Officer of Claritas Group, said: “We are pleased to be working once again with Tandridge District Council in the delivery of this important development for the local area.  Our site team will work hard to ensure our presence on site will be a positive one for all affected by the work.”

Tandridge District Council spokesperson said: “Having now awarded the contract to redevelop Bronzeoak House, we are looking forward to the Claritas Group starting on site soon and helping us deliver more affordable and attractive rented homes for families and older people in Caterham.”

The level of client inquiries is amazing, now we just need them to commit

There are plenty of opportunities for SMEs working in the right sectors, says Claritas’ Simon Wilkinson

On the day that Boris Johnson announced lockdown, we took the keys to our brand-new office in Bromley that had just been fitted out. Rather than move in, we had to lock the front door and walk away.

All our sites shut too. We felt we had to do that for safety reasons but, within three weeks, we started back up on site, with only a few people working in the office.

We furloughed about 20 staff in the beginning but, as sites reopened, we took them off incrementally, with all off by the end of July. The furlough scheme has been really helpful to us but there does not seem to be a strong enough case for it to be extended past October for construction. For other sectors, that is a much harder call.

Tier ones are having to make some big changes that could be a benefit to SMEs

Working from home has been more successful than we could ever have imagined, so there was not a big rush to get back – and that allowed us a bit of time to plan for a structured return. We have capacity for 60 desks with only 25 people allowed in at any one time.

There is a booking system, so different teams by function have access on rotation. It is working well, though for some people things might change when the schools go back – which could make it easier for some, or it could be more of a challenge. We are trying not to be too rigid and to see how things go.

Productivity on sites has inevitably suffered, but not everywhere. It really depends on the stage of the project. If it is at groundworks stage, then productivity levels are pretty good. It is not like it was pre-covid but, on the 13 sites we currently have, people are getting used to the new measures in place and working efficiently.

I have been amazed at the potential new work coming through, particularly for residential and our modern methods of construction business. Inquiry levels almost feel higher than before lockdown.

But the challenge is getting clients to commit – to get to the contract signing stage. Projects are stacking up, which is good, but it is also because decision-making is being delayed. It is something we have to watch because, if confidence suddenly comes back, we could have a sudden rush to market.

Our turnover ambitions will have been slightly dented by delays on projects and completions, but we will still see growth for 2021 and I am even more optimistic about the year after. I think we can see a sufficient pipeline of work to sustain our aspirations.

We are also aware that not all firms are as fortunate as us in terms of the sectors they work in, and that tier ones are having to make some big changes that could be a benefit to SMEs like ourselves that are looking to grow and recruit talent. There are opportunities out there, without a shadow of a doubt.

Simon Wilkinson, business director at Claritas

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