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Business briefing: Flats-packed ready-made homes craned into old club

Rooms for a few: The homes are lowered into place inside the former nightclub PICTURE: SWNS

A GIANT crane lowers a ready-made flat into position in Britain’s first ever development of modular apartments inside a disused building.

The flat, which comes fully decorated with a kitchen and bathroom, is one of nine being placed in the former Salute! nightclub in Park Street, Bristol, in just three days this week.

They will be ready to be rented out to students next month.

High rise: Pre-built flats come in crates ready to be picked up by a crane PICTURE: GETTY

The flats — a mixture of three beds, one bed and studios — are the result of local developer Urban Creation teaming up with specialists Go Modular. Urban director Jonathan Brecknell says they are set to ‘revolutionise’ the future of building.

A survey by the Federation of Master Builders found that 60 per cent of companies are struggling to hire bricklayers, while 54 per cent find it difficult to employ carpenters and joiners.

Mr Brecknell said: ‘The UK is facing a significant construction skills shortage, which means we aren’t delivering enough homes to meet demand.

Feeling flush: Bathroom inside the flat PICTURE: SWNS

‘Modular construction brings huge benefits compared to traditional builds. The homes can be delivered much quicker than traditional ones, putting less pressure on our construction skills pool.

‘They’re created in a controlled environment, meaning construction isn’t at the mercy of the weather — plus there are fewer snagging issues as a result.

‘Not to mention the fact that it causes less disruption to neighbours as most of the build is carried out off-site.’

Rate of empty shops hits a four-year high

THE number of empty shops in town centres has reached its highest level since 2015, new figures show. Some 10.3 per cent were vacant in July, the British Retail Consortium and Springboard found. Footfall fell 1.9 per cent, in the worst July decline since 2012, with high street footfall plunging 2.7 per cent. But retail parks saw a 1.2 per cent rise. Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, called for the government to freeze business rates amid the ‘challenging environment’ for retailers. ‘We should be concerned by the rise in empty store fronts,’ she added.

BUSINESS BITES

■ HUNDREDS of Asda workers with the GMB union will be protesting in Leeds tomorrow against contracts they say will make them worse off. Asda said the new deal will increase take-home pay for 100,000 staff.

■ FIVE-A-SIDE football pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres is investigating the book-keeping of ex-chief executive Keith Rogers and former finance boss Bill Gow. It faces a £12million tax bill after uncovering ‘improper behaviour’.

■ FORMER Jamie’s Italian restaurants have been gobbled up by rivals after administrator Christie & Co sold off 20 of the TV chef’s old premises. Indian eatery Dishoom was one to secure the ‘prime’ venues.

■ MORE than half of over-65s now buy via the web, says the Office for National Statistics. Some 82 per cent of adults shopped online this year, up five per cent on 2018, and 87 per cent use the web daily.

■ THOMAS COOK is in advanced talks to raise £150million from investors as it makes ‘progress’ with a rescue plan. It would come on top of a £750million deal the tour operator has agreed with Chinese conglomerate Fosun.