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Breedon Group plc opens new advanced tile factory in Northern Ireland that will see its production increased by over 80 per cent

NEW FACTORY: Breedon’s new facility will ensure the Group remains at the forefront of tile manufacturing in Northern Ireland

BREEDON Group plc is pleased to announce the opening of a new concrete tile production factory in Northern Ireland.

The leading vertically-integrated construction materials company that operates in Great Britain and Ireland, will open the new facility in Lisburn, County Antrim.

Breedon’s significant investment at this site will reduce local supply chain constraints and enable quicker and more efficient processes in order to produce high-quality tiles at a faster production rate.

The new factory contains advanced, modern equipment, increasing Breedon’s tile production capacity in the region by over 80%, from 12 million to 22 million tiles per annum.

This new facility will ensure the Group remains at the forefront of tile manufacturing in Northern Ireland.

BUILT TO LAST: Breedon roof tiles

The new plant in Lisburn will boost the local economy and will drive innovation and manufacturing capabilities in Belfast.

The site has been designed with sustainability as a key consideration.

The successful ESG journey of the tile business and the significant decrease in carbon generated per m2 of tiles, is something the team is exceptionally proud of.

 Jude Lagan, Managing Director, Cement and Products at Breedon Group, said: “I am proud to see the opening of this impressive facility in Lisburn, demonstrating our commitment to our business in Ireland, whilst benefitting the wider region, providing more supply and enabling secondary and tertiary industries to thrive.”

ASSA ABLOY’S new BIM software opens the possibility of seamless management of door projects

MAKING AN ENTRANCE: Openings Studio™ integrates with design software, so door assets can be designed, priced, manufactured, installed, inspected, and maintained from the same data

ASSA ABLOY’S Opening Solutions has launched a video showcasing its new BIM software called Openings Studio.

This computer program offers the possibility of creating and visualising openings for complete door, frame and hardware schedules and specifications, enabling the golden thread of information.

Openings Studio™ integrates with design software, meaning door assets can be designed, priced, manufactured, installed, inspected, and maintained from the same data, ensuring a seamless and transparent connection from design intent through to product in service.

This unique time and cost-saving application ensures compliance, giving peace of mind.

There’s the option to create door solutions from scratch or select from a customised library, making it simple to create modifications to meet project-specific standards.

Door solutions can be exported with ease through various types of reports in PDF, Microsoft Excel and Word formats.

During construction, submittals can be reviewed, and materials can be tracked for ordering and delivery.

What’s more, Requests for Information (RFIs) can be officially logged and managed, and directives can be changed.  Cut sheets and installation guides are also housed within the programme.

Ideal for both new construction and existing openings, Openings Studio™ also allows facilities managers to have a single point of reference to inspect, record, maintain, and service doors, hardware, and access control systems.

Brian Sofley, Managing Director at ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions UK & Ireland, said: “Managing door projects in traditional spreadsheet programmes can be extremely inefficient and ineffective, with limited ability to share that information easily. Openings Studio™ streamlines communication in the estimation, specification, ordering and delivering process, making sharing information effortless.”

“Workflow and door projects are digitalised and all the door information is stored in the cloud, allowing it to be securely accessed from anywhere in the world via a desktop computer smartphone or tablet. This is a game-changer for building owners, facilities managers, contractors, locksmiths, distributors, consultants and more.” he added.

To find out more about BIM, Openings Studio™ and how ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions can help your organisation,  please call: 0845 071 0882, email: or visit:

CITB NI Women in Construction Summit 2024 Final will take place on Wednesday, March 13

FINAL COUNTDOWN: Rotha O’Boyle form Martin & Hamilton Construction, Rachel Dorovatas from CITB NI with summit host Sarah Travers
CONSTRUCTION Industry Training Board NI (CITB NI), and the Women in Construction Network will host the third Women in Construction Summit, on Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at Crowne Plaza Hotel.

With a focus on ‘Redefining Foundations’, the summit will honour women whilst exploring and challenging business foundations within the NI construction industry.

Research reveals that women working in construction are on the increase with 37% of new entrants into the industry that came from higher education are women.

Women make up around 14% of construction industry professionals and this number can only be set to rise with more and more women choosing construction jobs.

While this is encouraging, events such as Women in Construction Summit aim to inspire continued growth and development as well as challenge existing foundations to allow this to happen.

The full-day conference will challenge the business foundations within the construction industry and will present inspirational stories, business advice and career development for women currently working in the construction industry, those thinking of joining and for employers who support diversity or best practices in the industry.

Key topics include performance culture, growth mindset, sustainability, AI, mentoring and networking.

he Summit will help attendees gain insights into career management, discover influential role models and seize the opportunity to expand professional networks.

Hosted by former BBC Journalist Sarah Travers, the summit will feature keynote speaker and transitional change specialist Breda McCague.

From startups to multinationals, her twenty years in the Reserve Defence Forces support to coach and inspire everyone to take control of their own career path. 

The Summit will also feature Jules Coleman, co-founder and CTO of, the UK’s largest residential architecture practice.

Panelists and guest speakers include Oonagh O’Reilly and Marie-Claire McGreevy from MCO Performance, Nicky Scott, Women in Business NI Cathy Brennan, Resourceful Planner, As well as representatives from a range of NI construction businesses and women-focused organisations.

Looking forward to the Women in Construction Summit 2024, Rachel Dorovatas, from CITB NI, said: “ We are looking forward to welcoming guests, speakers and panelist to our 3rd Women in Construction Summit. The theme of this year’s summit is Redefining Foundations which, throughout the day, will focus us to explore, discuss and challenge the current and future of our industry.   The built environment is truly for everyone, and the more inclusive our industry becomes, the better equipped we are to cater to the diverse needs of our communities.”

Rachel added: “As our workforce ages, faces skill shortages, and rapidly incorporates modern technologies, it’s vital for the construction sector to build a culture that truly values diversity and balance. This culture not only enhances our ability to meet the challenges ahead but also fosters innovation and resilience in the face of an ever-evolving landscape.”

Tickets for the Women in Construction NI Summit are £90  visit or follow CITB NI on Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram and LinkedIn #Womeninconstruction.

Kilwaughter Minerals Enhances Product Suite With Launch Of GP Mix


Kilwaughter Minerals has further enhanced its suite of industry-leading products with the launch of its latest premium general purpose render, GP Mix, through its K Rend brand.

Boasting a cutting-edge new formula with reduced drying times and improved workability, GP Mix is suitable for use as a float coat, scratch coat and masonry mortar. The product replaces its existing GP Mortar product which has been a successful part of the portfolio for several years.

The product delivers a number of major benefits for the housebuilder market, giving the same final appearance as traditional sand and cement render mix while being suitable for internal and external use, as well as being suitable for hand or machine application.

The arrival of GP Mix to the market comes less than two years after Kilwaughter Minerals’ K Rend brand launched K Mono, a one-coat, one-pass through-coloured render product that has revolutionised the UK and Ireland housebuilder market.     

Caroline Rowley, Head of Business Development at Kilwaughter Minerals, said: “The launch of K Rend’s GP Mix further enhances Kilwaughter Minerals’ stellar pedigree as an industry leader in the UK and Ireland construction market. We are renowned for our innovation, expertise and reliability, all of which are encompassed in this latest product.

“Our talented research and development team have worked to ensure that GP Mix is a consistent and reliable product that hits all of our customers’ key touch points, leading to a product that delivers flexibility, ease of use and effectiveness.

“It has better performance through diesel and electric machines as well as improved workability. We’re really looking forward to the series of demo days we’ve organised with many of our merchant partners that will allow applicators to get a first look at how great this new product is.

“Economic, social and environmental sustainability is at the heart of all of our operations and was very much at the forefront during the concept, design and manufacture stages of our latest product.”   

GP Mix is part of the K Rend Eco range that utilises cement replacement technology and delivers a fine texture finish.

Further benefits include excellent weather resistance and durability, consistent quality compared to site mix, a fine texture finish and the fact it can be used in conjunction with most paints, including K Paint. 

For more information on the UK and Ireland’s market leading render manufacturer and its services, go to 

RICS Launches New DEI Guidance In Bid To Propel Diversity And Inclusion In The Surveying profession


The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has launched a much anticipated guide to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) for surveying firms and individuals globally.

The six-document guide has been carefully developed by RICS members and experts in DEI and covers topics such as inclusive policies, inclusive spaces, career progression, everyday life at work, recruitment and developing an inclusive culture in the workplace.

While the guidance benefits all RICS professionals globally, it places particular emphasis on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and sole practitioners.

By providing access to specialist DEI advice, the guidance aims to empower these entities to attract, retain, and optimise their DEI practices, ensuring they remain competitive and inclusive.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have emerged as central tenets for RICS and the broader profession, recognising the need to attract and retain the best talent, irrespective of gender, race, disability, neurodiversity, class, socio-economic background, religion, sexual orientation, or age.

The guidance sets out to exemplify best practices, assisting firms in recruiting and retaining top-tier talent by cultivating a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

RICS Head of DEI, Sybil Taunton, said: “In delivering this guidance, RICS is expanding the support available to members and firms, striving to shape an inclusive profession where everyone can thrive, realise their potential, and deliver positive social impact. By fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion, we envision a profession that reflects the rich diversity of our communities”.

For more information and to access the guides, go to  RICS launches new guidance to supplement Rules of Conduct Rule 4

Henry Brothers Stages Topping Out Ceremony At Beacon Barracks


Magherafelt headquartered contractor Henry Brothers has held a topping out ceremony to mark a key stage in its project to deliver new facilities at Beacon Barracks in Staffordshire for 280 (NATO) Signal Squadron.

The Squadron, which is the only British Army unit permanently assigned to NATO, will be moving from Dorset to its new home at Beacon Barracks near Stafford under the Defence Estate Optimisation (DEO) Army Programme.

Henry Brothers is building a new £22.5m two-storey facility for the Squadron within a secure compound at Beacon Barracks. It includes offices, conference rooms, a reception area, workshops, garaging, storage rooms, welfare facilities and mechanical and electrical plant rooms, and will feature solar panels on the roof. 

The company is also delivering a single-storey satellite communications building as part of the development for the Squadron, which, as a Deployable Communication Module, has a role to install and control strategic communication and information systems supporting a deployed NATO headquarters.

Personnel at the topping out ceremony for the new facilities included representatives from NATO, 280 (NATO) Signal Squadron, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), Beacon Barracks, Henry Brothers, project manager Mott MacDonald and multi-disciplinary design consultants Pick Everard.

Managing Director of Henry Brothers Construction, Ian Taylor, said: “We are very pleased to see this significant milestone being reached on the new facility that Henry Brothers Construction is delivering at Beacon Barracks for 280 (NATO) Signal Squadron. The squadron plays an important role in NATO, and we are proud to support our armed forces.

“Henry Brothers has worked in partnership with the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation to deliver many improvements and new developments over the years. It’s great to see one of our current projects proceeding well and on track for completion next year, providing 280 (NATO) Signal Squadron with a new base to relocate to from Dorset.”

The project, which is scheduled to be Defence Related Environmental Assessment Method (DREAM) Excellent, is being delivered by Henry Brothers for the DIO via the Crown Commercial Service Framework. Work is due to be completed in early 2025.

Other members of the team working alongside Henry Brothers on the project include Pick Everard and Mott MacDonald.

Henry Brothers Construction is part of The Henry Group, which comprises a number of manufacturing and construction sector companies, ranging from external construction through to interiors fit out.

In partnership with its valued clients, it has a proven track record in education, defence, commercial, industrial, transport and healthcare sectors.

Immerse Yourself In The World Of Famous Architect & Designer Gaudí At Belfast XR Festival


A magical VR journey through the work of Catalan architect and designer Antoni Gaudí has been confirmed as one of the unique experiences at this year’s Belfast XR festival.

Barcelona-based Gaudí was famed for his free-flowing works greatly influenced by nature.

As part of the festival attendees will experience 20 minutes of the awe-inspiring wonder of Gaudi’s visionary creations.

Designed for small groups of six, audiences will have the freedom to explore a shared space like never before.

The story will take festival goers back to 1926 when, weakened by age and feeling his death approaching, Gaudí invites his new assistants to discover his studio, to understand his vision and complete his work.

Deepa Mann-Kler, director and curator for Belfast XR Festival said the experience of Gaudí, The Atelier of the Divine takes audiences into the mind of the famous architect.

She added: “Through the exceptional reconstruction of the atelier, which burned down in 1936, visitors can embark on a narrative journey into the unique psyche of the Catalan master.

“What is so very special about this story, and unusual for VR, is that this is a shared experience where you can see each other’s avatars. It truly is one of the most breath-taking installations around today, and one you will never forget.”

The Gaudí experience was created by Stéphane Landowski & Gaël Cabouat who have been working together for over a decade.

Together they have created more than 60 short films, four feature films, and three documentaries.

Stéphane specialises in the writing and supporting projects during the writing phase.

Stéphane said: “We wanted to design an experience aimed at discovering Gaudí’s brilliant universe through a reconstruction of his workshop, which has now disappeared.

“Overcome by an all consuming mysticism, the architect ended up moving into this hybrid, modular space where as a passionate hermit, he became a tireless worker for God.

“More than a place of work, the studio, made in his image and moulded to his obsessions, had thus gradually become an extension of the artist and, even more, a materialisation of his psyche.”

Gaël then steps in to take over at the production level.

“From the outset of the project, it was clear that we wanted to use the studio’s rendition to tell the story of the man, and to ensure that each wall, each ceiling, as delirious as his thoughts, would tell the story of his dreamlike and tortured universe, like a deforming and dynamic mirror,” Gaël added.

Belfast XR, now in its third year, specialises in curating worldclass immersive technology content that takes the art of storytelling to a new level.

The innovative arts festival which will once again merge technology and art to create a unique virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experience for attendees

Extended Reality or ‘XR’ is the collective name for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). VR is a computer-generated artificial environment with scenes that appear to be real, while AR is a digital overlay onto the real world, which is viewed through your phone or an iPad.

Speaking of the annual Belfast XR Festival, which is an annual gathering for the XR arts – storytelling, visual arts, music, drama, dance, literature and theatre, Deepa said bringing virtual and augmented reality content to new audiences locally is something the team at Belfast XR are passionate about: “I realised that  there are so many incredible stories being told in this medium that audiences in Northern Ireland never get the opportunity to experience. This was my key motivation.

“Our ambition is to create an unmissable annual gathering for XR that inspires storytelling and our passion is to bring the best global virtual and augmented reality content to new local audiences. You don’t need to have used a virtual reality headset before, as our team will guide you through the whole process.”

Running on Wednesday February 28 and Thursday 29 at the Black Box in Belfast, this year’s festival theme is Legacy which will offer attendees the chance to experience world history in captivating ways allowing audiences to step into the past, interact with historical figures, and explore significant events firsthand.

Belfast XR Festival is both for XR enthusiasts aged 16+ and those who haven’t experienced any form of XR in the past.

The Belfast XR Festival is supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. It is also supported by the Department for Communities through Northern Ireland Screen, Digital Catapult NI, Future Screens NI and Ulster Screen Academy.

For more information follow Belfast XR Festival on social media or go to 

NI Infrastructure Minister Acknowledges Planning System Inadequately Resourced & Needs Fixed


Northern Ireland’s infrastructure minister John O’Dowd has told Stormont there needs to be an “urgent and fundamental appraisal of the planning system”.

This recognition follows a Stormont debate where MLA’s discussed delays, under-resourcing, incomplete applications and a Planning Appeals Commission. 

According to the minister had agreed that this was a problem for all of the elements of the planning system as well as the commission, and while there is a lot of work to be done he stated that he was “up for the challenge”. 

During the Stormont debate he told MLA’s: “I accept that our planning system is not working to its full potential, but we need to be careful not to send out a message to investors here or potential investors overseas that you cannot do business here in terms of planning – we can.

“We will do everything within our power to support the development of new industries and the green economy, wherever it may be. We will do our best and work with them to improve it but let us not send out the message that you cannot do business here”. 

It was said that there has already been a planning improvement work programme established, which is moving forward by local and central government. The programme is believed to be broken down into key themes. 

The minister emphasised that it would be too expensive to appoint independent commissioners to take over some of the workload but that it would be kept under review. 

He went on to say: “planned to take some time to understand the progress that has been made and to ensure that we do everything possible to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our wider planning system”.

Falling Demand Hits Construction Product Manufacturers’ Sales


The Construction Products Association’s latest State of Trade Survey for 2023 Q4 showed that manufacturers ended last year with a further fall in construction product sales on both the heavy side and light side – the sixth consecutive quarter of decline for heavy side manufacturers and the second fall for those on the light side.

Manufacturers anticipate sales will decline over the next 12 months, citing a clear concern over the weak demand expected in 2024.

In 2023 Q4, a balance of 63% of heavy side manufacturers reported that sales of construction products decreased, marking the sixth consecutive quarter of decline and the weakest performance since 2020 Q2, at the height of the pandemic.

Alongside this, 40% of light side manufacturers also reported a fall in product sales. This was the second quarterly decline but, equally, the lowest balance recorded since activity was paused during the early pandemic restrictions.

Looking to the next 12 months, demand was cited by 71% of heavy side manufacturers and 80% of light side manufacturers as the factor most likely to constrain growth during 2024. Consequently, 11% of heavy side manufacturers and 15% of light side manufacturers anticipated a fall in sales over this year.

The backdrop for costs was shown to be more favourable, however, with manufacturers reporting a continued easing in cost inflation. Price pressures were lower for raw materials, fuel and energy, which had all been major contributors to inflation over the last couple of years. Nevertheless, manufacturers reported continued upward pressure from wages & salaries.

Rebecca Larkin, CPA Head of Construction Research said: “Manufacturers had a challenging end to 2023 and there appears little to rally expectations for growth this year. Falls in new construction orders since the end of 2022 have now begun to filter through into lower construction activity, particularly in housing, commercial offices and warehouses and factories in the industrial sector.

“With flatlining GDP growth, a step-change in interest rates and build costs, and emerging risks around delays and cost rises related to the Red Sea shipping disruptions, it should come as no surprise that demand was flagged as the key concern for construction product manufacturing activity in 2024.”

Key survey findings include:

  • A balance of 63% of heavy side firms and 40% of light side firms reported that construction products sales fell in 2023 Q4 compared with Q3
  • This was the sixth straight quarter of decline for the heavy side and second for the light side
  • 11% of heavy side manufacturers and 15% of light side manufacturers anticipated a fall in sales over the next 12 months
  • 71% heavy side manufacturers and 80% of light side manufacturers cited ‘demand’ as the key concern for sales over the next 12 months
  • Cost balances continued to moderate but wages & salaries were the strongest cost pressures for both heavy side and light side manufacturers

£3 Billion Affordable Housing Boost To Deliver 20,000 New UK Homes


20,000 new affordable homes will be built across the UK, thanks to a £3 billion increase in a government-backed loan fund that opened earlier this month.

It may be good news for Northern Ireland construction companies working on projects throughout the UK.

The expansion of the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme, which provides low-cost loans to housing providers, will support thousands of new homes. For the first time, the scheme can also be used to upgrade existing properties, making them warm and decent for tenants.

Providers will be able to apply for loans to carry out vital building safety works, such as the removal of dangerous cladding.

Backed by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the now £6 billion fund will help housing providers access low-cost loans so they can expand their business, build more affordable homes and upgrade their existing stock.

Housing Minister Lee Rowley said: We know getting cost-effective loans can be a stumbling block for many developers building more affordable homes or upgrading their existing stock, so it is of the quality tenants deserve.

“This new round opening today will not only improve the lives of those already living in homes, but help thousands of families benefit from new, high-quality, affordable housing.”


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