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Manchester is a microcosm of construction industry health

SAEMA (Specialist Access Engineering & Maintenance Association) delivers the best training and guidance in the temporary and permanent suspended access industry. Our aim is to advance safety through raising the standards in best practice amongst at-height workers.

As well as working to secure safety in the at-height sector, we also monitor developments in the industry, which has weathered the toughest storm during 2020.

A new £300m skyscraper in Manchester can be viewed as a barometer for how construction has refused to be stopped by COVID.

Reaching 40 storeys and 138 metres high, Viadux is the latest tall building coming to Manchester city centre’s skyline.

Such is the amount of competition at this end of Deansgate, famed architects SimpsonHaugh have opted for a ‘simple, uniform design’ to allow it to blend in with its illustrious neighbours.

Viadux will be surrounded by Beetham Tower on one side, the four skyscrapers of Deansgate Square on the other, and will be wedged in next to Axis, the controversial but unmistakable beige tower block on the corner of Deansgate Locks.

Planning permission was first granted for the scheme, which also includes a 14-storey office building, in 2017. Enabling works are now finally underway on what will be a complicated building project.

Some commentators have suggested being stuck at home would drive a shift away from high rise living and towards the space and gardens available in the suburbs. But industry experts in Manchester city centre say there is no evidence of those trends so far and that, in fact, the property sector has never been busier.

Other recent additions to the city’s skyline include Deansgate Square (four towers), Beetham Tower, Elizabeth Tower and 100 Greengate.

The rail sector also continues to boom, with the UK successfully pushing through the uncertainties of Brexit and COVID-19 to deliver some of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects.

The Ordsall Chord is a short but significant section of new railway track in Ordsall, Salford, which links Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Oxford Road to Manchester Victoria. In doing so, it has increased capacity, reduced congestion and travel times into and through Manchester.

The £85m project was a collaboration between Network Rail, Siemens, Skanska-BAM, Amey-Sersa and Severfield, as well as designers BDP, AECOM Mott McDonald, WSP and Balfour Beatty Engineering Services. It employed several hundred people over several years.

The now-iconic network arch was lifted into place over the River Irwell on 21st February 2017, with the first passenger service train at 08:40 on 10th December 2017. While there was some controversy caused by the new track coming into contact with heritage structures including the Stephenson Bridge, built in the early Victorian era, the overall view of the Ordsall Chord is one of positivity for how it has improved infrastructure – and how its famous “pre-rusted arches” complement the aesthetic of the surroundings.

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