Major Infrastructure Projects 2023 UK
UK’s Major Infrastructure Projects 2023
- Heathrow Expansion
- The New Hospital’s Programme
- Houses of Parliament
- HS2 tunnelling
- Hinkley Point C
From an optimistic 2022, the forecast for the forthcoming year has taken an unexpected slump with looming worries about materials costs and inflation to gloomy reports such as that from data specialist Glenigan predicting a 2 per cent fall in most types of projects.
Even though the U.K. economy is facing a recession, it’s predicted that an extra 225,000 construction workers may be needed by 2027, according to the latest Construction Skills Network (CSN) report. The report released on Wednesday, 18 January 2023, provides insights into the U.K. construction economy and future labour needs. In addition, it highlights how the industry is expected to change year-on-year, allowing governments and businesses to understand the current climate and plan for the future.
So whilst we ride the current downturn, the future of the industry looks optimistic, and even amidst these challenging times, there is still no shortage of exciting projects out there, with the U.K. construction output remaining above pre-pandemic levels at £15.13bn in the latest Office for National Statistics figures.
Here are some major UK construction projects in 2023 worth keeping an eye out for.
- Completion date: currently seeking approval
- Budget: £14bn +
Despite fierce political debate about the proposed extension, London Heathrow Airport (LHR) officials are on the cusp of announcing plans for a third runway.
The construction of a third runway at the airport has been in limbo since Gordon Brown’s Labour government first approved plans in 2009. The economic case for the expansion is that the addition of a third runway will generate an estimated £61bn in economic growth and create up to 77,000 local jobs by 2030.
Expected to be revealed in the next few months, the controversial proposal, a £14 billion expansion to the U.K.’s largest (and Europe’s busiest) airport, looks set to take the shape of a third runway via a bridge over the M25, extensions to Terminals 2 and 5, and a giant car park — which would involve rerouting roads, diverting rivers and demolishing an entire village.
If all went ahead, Heathrow could deliver up to 740,000 flights per year.
The New Hospital’s Programme
- Completion date: unknown
- Original budget: £3.7 billion
Boris Johnson pledged to build 40 new hospitals with the release of ‘The New Hospital Programme‘. The programme would enable Trusts nationwide to ‘bid’ for funding to improve their infrastructure and facilities.
Forty-eight hospitals were selected to participate, each undergoing its own programme based on specific needs and funding requirements.
In 2022 the promised £3.7bn programme looked threatened as costs spiralled, forcing hospital trusts to return to the Treasury, cap in hand.
The Royal Cornwall Hospital project, due to be delivered by Bam Construct, was initially costed at £ 100 million. Instead, it has almost trebled to £291.7m.
A rebuild of Watford General Hospital and refurbishment of facilities at Hemel Hempstead and St Albans were approved by its trust in June, despite costs doubling to £1.1bn since the projects were proposed.
NHS Providers, representing NHS trusts, claims that half its members cannot cover their projects’ costs. However, chancellor Jeremy Hunt restated the Government’s commitment to the plan in his November Autumn Statement. It will be fascinating to see how the delivery goes.
Houses of Parliament
- Completion date: 2099
- Original budget: £27 billion
As restoration projects go, it doesn’t get grander than the Palace of Westminister.
The original programme from 2018 was priced at £4 billion, but with works rising from £7 to £22 billion, it was effectively sent back to the drawing board.
And every week the work isn’t done, costs of £2.5m in maintenance are accumulating, with the outlay already stacking up to £100million and little progress seen.
Despite the delays, some much-needed detail on the scale of the works should be forthcoming, thanks to the appointment of construction professionals, including James Fisher Strainstall, Concept Engineering Consultants and Aecom, to execute critical surveying work.
In January this year, it was reported that works to strengthen the roof and Victorian masonry were underway, and that work has recently been carried out to restore the ceiling of St Stephen’s Hall, as well as the renovation of the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben.
It’s predicted that this project will cost a total of £22bn and last up to an epic 76 years.
- Completion date: HS2 Phase 1 – between 2029 and 2033
- Budget: £5.6 Billion
A 2.5km section of the HS2 tunnel in Chipping Warden, Northamptonshire, has seen construction suspended in 2022 after “quality issues” in precast segments some 100 metres into the build were found. Work restarted on the precast tunnel in September, and the lessons learned on this build will be relayed to the works for the two other tunnels, which are due to start in 2023.
The next three years aim to see the main works on Phase One, between London and the West Midlands, hit peak construction.
Hinkley Point C
- Completion date: 2036
- Budget: £32.7 Billion
Some £3bn was added to the cost of the £26bn project as its timeline lengthened by a year. EDF Energy attributed the adjustments to COVID-19, claiming it lost half-a-million work days in civil construction in 2020 and 2021.
It’s been a challenging start for the U.K.’s first new nuclear power station in decades. At the same time as construction is underway, the Government has announced plans to approve a new reactor every year. Sizewell C, the only other confirmed large-scale nuclear project is set to begin in the U.K. – and for which the chancellor restated the Government’s support in November – it will be delivered using the same designs and reactor technology.
The delays and big budget rises that came to light in 2022 have meant that Hinkley Point C will start generating electricity in June 2027, two years behind its original schedule. However, the French company EDF has recently struck a new deal with the Government, meaning operations would be allowed to start as late as 2036.
- Completion date: Unknown
- Budget: £1.7 Billion
The Stonehenge road tunnel scheme is a planned tunnel in Wiltshire, England, to upgrade the 13km long A303 road that runs between Amesbury and Berwick Down past Stonehenge. The scheme also aims to improve the design and landscape around Stonehenge and improve safety on the A303.
Formed by Highways England, the Stonehenge scheme is a part of the UK Government’s £15bn road investment strategy.
The Stonehenge Tunnel is planned to support economic growth by creating work opportunities in the region. The scheme aims to substantially reduce congestion on the A303 at the centre of the village. Furthermore, it aims to cut down the journey time between Amesbury and Berwick to ten minutes during peak hours.
If everything goes to plan, Harper may be required to rule on the Lower Thames Crossing application shortly before the end of 2023 – in reality, the process is likely to be pushed into 2024, considering the size and complexity of the scheme.
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