Warrington Set Out On New Housing Venture

In an increasingly uncertain political and economic environment, local councils are under more pressure than ever to find new ways of generating revenue to fund investment and development in their towns and cities.

Some authorities are looking to build up substantial property portfolios to generate a return, others use commercial development to expand tax receipts, whilst a small number have adopted more inventive approaches, for example establishing companies to sell merchandise at concerts.

Unless a development partner is brought in, councils then have a choice of funding projects through the use of capital budgets, grants, borrowing through the Public Works Loans Board, or indeed a mix of these.

Sifting through the procurement minefield

Once this has been decided, there’s a minefield of procurement choices to sift through, from the various forms of OJEU tendering to an increasing number of public sector frameworks.

But what about the organisations who are wedged in the middle, with characteristics from both the public and private sector?

Incrementum, Warrington Borough Council’s new housing development company, is a perfect example of this.

The company is funded through a commercial loan from the Council, but has been created as a private commercial enterprise, tasked with delivering 600 new homes for rent over the next five years and creating a sustainable income to be reinvested back into the Council. The aim is set a standard for modern living in Warrington, supporting multi-generational living and encouraging young people to live in the area as opposed to the big cities.

This is where Scape Venture has offered the ideal procurement solution. Whilst the framework doesn’t carry the full suite of requirements of the OJEU-compliant Scape Procure, it provides the same responsible procurement approach and focus on social value that the Council, as ultimate owners, expect.

Balancing speed and efficiency with value for money and cost certainty

Through the Venture framework, Incrementum has benefited from a procurement solution that balances speed and efficiency with value for money and cost certainty, providing invaluable early support to take potential housing sites from concept design and budget development, through the planning process and ultimately to site for construction.

Add this to a jointly selected design team who are all working towards a common goal, and Incrementum has everything it needs to inform its business case and economic viability, from the most efficient layout and a robust budget, to a programme and logistics strategy and early commitments to achieving objectives around sustainability, modern methods of construction and local labour, all through a single, straightforward procurement exercise.

These attributes can be vital when building to set timescales, as Jonathan Smith, the Manager of Incrementum, notes:

“The overwhelming benefit of Scape Venture is that it allows Incrementum to access a full range of professional services under one pre-qualifying contract. This saves considerable time on procurement, and also has the added advantage of allowing us to work directly with the main contractor throughout the initial stages, thus ensuring the housing is designed for maximum efficiency and buildability.”

Robust budget that informs business case and viability

Viability is key to every Incrementum scheme, and our early budget advice during feasibility stage enables Incrementum to assess its business case before committing to a particular scheme.

We prepare a robust budget that gives the client confidence that there will only be one request for funding, before driving down the cost plan through innovative design and a rigorous survey process. Again, this has major benefits, as Jonathan notes:

“It is important to provide some degree of cost certainty when the Company seeks its commercial loan. The fact that the costs have been provided by the intended builder gives the funder – in this case the Council – a level of confidence that it would not otherwise have. This also gives our overall business plan additional weight.”

Wates is already progressing plans for four sites across the borough, including a mix of low-level housing and mid-rise apartment schemes. Ultimately the aspiration is to set a brand for the borough, whereby units immediately look and feel like an Incrementum property.

Helping Incrementum deliver Warrington’s housing needs is an exciting opportunity for the Wates North West team, and through an efficient and socially responsible route provided by Scape Venture, we look forward to building a valued relationship with a potential repeat customer.

Alan White, Regional Business Manager North West

07932 276033
Alan.White@wates.co.uk

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How Wates can help in achieving the Mayors ambitious Homes for Londoners targets

“We need to build 2000 homes in the next 5 years.”

When I am talking to Local Authorities across London about their targets and needs these are the type of figures they are wrestling with, and sometimes the numbers can be much higher. Right now, housing starts and completions are in the property and construction press, and in the mainstream press with regular announcements of new commitments, promises of new funding and also criticism of under delivery.

The Mayor’s target of 65,000 homes in London per year with 50% affordable presents an excellent target but can also be very challenging for Councils to respond to and achieve.

With huge numbers on waiting lists and in temporary housing, addressing the accommodation needs of Londoners seems to be one of the hottest subjects in town. With Councils under pressure from all sides to deliver more and spend less, getting a housing scheme from a strategic plan, through to site and then occupied by residents can take years.

So after a Council has; identified a need, found a suitable site, procured the site if necessary, engaged with planning, and the local community, applied for grants, dealt with the GLA and government compliance rules, agreed a workable tenure mix; only then may they actually have some head space to start thinking how best to procure and build the scheme that they may already have put years of work into.

It is at this point that Wates Residential can assist and lift some of the burden in turning an outline business case into a developed proposal. The team has huge experience in delivering residential schemes of all types across London and beyond from 40 storey high rises to more suburban schemes of 2 & 3 storeys, and with numbers of units from 30 – 300.

One quick and easy way to engage with our team of experts is through the Scape Framework. Through this public sector framework Clients can engage Wates Residential quickly on any scheme valued £10m to £50m throughout the UK. Scape can provide lots of the social value benefits that Local Authorities are looking for such as local employment and utilisation of local supply chains and SME’s. For myself, the biggest benefit and USP for engaging Wates via Scape is the speed that we can commence plus the free of charge feasibility service we can offer. We can have a discussion one day and commence a feasibility the following week. The aims of the feasibility can be tailored to the project or the Client needs, and its overall goal is to provide a proposal with professional advice on the costs, programme, buildability, design and risks associated with a project. This provides a clear base line for Officers to confirm funding requirements to Councillors and provides a clear route map of the next steps for moving the scheme forward.

Wates Residential is currently in different stages of design development and pre-construction with four London Boroughs via the Scape procurement route, for housing schemes which together have the potential to provide over 500 homes for Londoners.

As I’ve mentioned already, increasingly we are supporting clients with actions and ways to get housing projects delivered at pace. As our success increases, I’m getting some positive feedback about our proactive and honest approach which enables projects to progress. If you have schemes you want to get moving in 2020, feel free to contact me if you want some advice and a chat over a coffee. I’m happy to share our lessons learned and introduce you to the Residential team so that we can work together to deliver the homes Londoners needs.

Alex Jefferson, Regional Business Director, Scape South East

07793 883215
alex.jefferson@wates.co.uk

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City Hub contractor consolidates commitment to Nottingham

As construction of the new Nottingham College City Hub campus accelerates past the halfway point, Wates Construction has confirmed a raft of benefits already brought by the project to the people of Nottingham.

Through construction of the £58m educational facility – set to accommodate 2,000 students each year when it opens in September 2020 – Wates has created a host of employment and training opportunities for young people and supported a range of local businesses and community groups.

Over 80% of the entire City Hub supply chain has been sourced from businesses within a 40 mile radius of the site and just under 25% of the full £23,881,187 supply chain spend was sourced from within a 10 mile radius.

Wates has also enlisted the support of a range of social enterprises (SEs) to help deliver the project, including Recycling Lives, Nuneaton Signs Ltd and Radiant Cleaners Ltd, all of which have benefited from the total SE investment figure currently standing at over £61,000.

All of these efforts form part of the project’s procurement via Major Works – UK, part of Scape’s National Construction framework. The framework has been specifically designed to deliver significant levels of local economic engagement, ongoing apprenticeship schemes and extensive community initiatives.

“From the outset of the Nottingham City Hub build, we have been focused upon supporting the college’s employability ambitions and also ensuring the wider Nottingham community benefits from our presence on site.

“Built into our company ethos is a commitment to provide tangible, economic and social impacts that can truly be felt at all levels. As a result of our varied activities here in Nottingham, we know that when the City Hub campus opens next September, we will leave behind a legacy that extends far beyond this fantastic building.”

JOHN CARLIN, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF WATES CONSTRUCTION MIDLANDS

“We’re proud to play our part in the regeneration of a significant area of our city centre, improving not only the economic prosperity of the Southside zone but leaving a fantastic lasting legacy for further education in Nottingham. Before the project started it was always our intention to create many employability opportunities for students and give young people across the City the chance to experience the sheer scale of the build and I am pleased we have been able to do this.”

JOHN VAN DE LAARSCHOT, NOTTINGHAM COLLEGE CEO

“This is a very important project for Nottingham College as investing in further and higher education remains a key priority to ensuring the educational future of our young people. By procuring this project with Scape, Nottingham College is guaranteeing certainty that the City Hub will be delivered with efficiency and real social value embedded at its heart.”

MARK ROBINSON, SCAPE GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE

With week 80 of 117 now underway, Nottingham residents will observe finishing touches to the building taking place over the coming weeks, including the installation of windows and exterior cladding.

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Creating efficiency through collaborative working

Helen Drennan shares her insight on the importance of collaboration in construction and the successes the industry achieves through partnership working. Collaborative working underpins everything Wates does. This is a core value we share with our partners at Scape Group and one that enabled us to take Teesside University’s Cornell Quarter from feasibility to start on-site in just 24 weeks.

It has long been a firm belief of Wates that adopting partnership working is the key to truly delivering successful projects. It creates a healthy working environment where everyone can understand each others objectives, and this results in open and honest conversations that simply wouldn’t be possible if we all worked in silos.

In April 2019, we started on-site at Teesside University’s Cornell Quarter, a new student accommodation development that forms part of the university’s £300m campus masterplan. Cornell Quarter was procured through the Scape Venture framework and it has become a project that truly demonstrates the efficiency that can be brought to privately funded projects when procured through Scape, and the key to all this is collaboration.

‘Project concept to start on-site in just 24 weeks’

Cornell Quarter went from feasibility study to start on-site in an unprecedented 24 weeks, which is a fantastic achievement by the Wates team, Scape Group and of course our client at Teesside University.

Having recently completed Teesside University’s National Horizons Centre, the Wates team began conversations with the university about how to make this priority project possible within the necessary timescales. We needed an effective and efficient solution and we collectively rose to the challenge. Design, risk, buildability, surveys, site logistics and supply chain were all managed meticulously. Our specialists know what it takes to get the job done but I can’t emphasise enough how valuable collaboration was to this process; we worked in true partnership style and we made a very ambitious plan possible.

“The procurement process for our £21.4m Cornell Quarter student accommodation project was extremely efficient and we are very pleased with the results.

“Our contractor Wates is now on-site and work is well underway. When completed, the Cornell Quarter will provide a fantastic new residential complex and will be a key addition to our ambitious campus master plan, which reinforces our commitment to providing the very best student and learning experience.”

JILL THOMPSON, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF CAMPUS SERVICES, TEESSIDE UNIVERSITY

‘Overcoming challenges through partnerships’

As with all projects, we have had unexpected turns in the road. Changes to design are inevitable and logistical challenge always need to be overcome. As one of the largest schemes procured through Scape Venture, Cornell Quarter is no exception. But the speed of resolution for arising challenges has been a huge testament to the team behind the project. A four-week feasibility period was followed by an intense design development period before the scheme was submitted for planning, which was granted in December 2018. A further design process followed with enabling works starting on 1st April 2019. A successful start to which I no doubt will be an exciting and successful project.

What’s more, by adopting public sector procurement practices, the Scape Venture framework has brought a huge focus on social value to a privately funded project. Local impact is often celebrated as a huge benefit of public sector framework procurement; Scape has a robust strategy for creating training and employment opportunities through its projects as well as ensuring a local supply chain is appointed. The framework seeks to achieve the exact same thing through privately funded projects and this is the icing on the cake for Cornell Quarter. To have brought this project to site with such efficiency while uncompromising on our social value commitments make it a project of which we’re all very proud.

Helen Drennan is Regional Business Director for Wates Group in North East & Yorkshire.

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Topping out ceremony held for science park building

Wates Construction held a topping out ceremony to celebrate the latest milestone in the creation of a new HQ for leading software company The Access Group.

The new HQ is set to generate £1.6million a year for frontline Leicestershire County Council services and create at least 500 jobs.

The Access Group employs more than 2,000 people, serving over 20,000 UK companies. More than a third of its workforce is based in the Midlands.

The project is due to be open in Autumn 2020. Work is being delivered by Wates Construction via Major Works UK, part of the Scape National Construction framework.

“In addition to marking a significant build milestone, this event presented an opportunity to celebrate the truly collaborative approach all parties have taken in helping to bring this landmark project to fruition.”
JOHN CARLIN, REGIONAL MANAGER, WATES CONSTRUCTION

Read more about the Loughborough University Science Enterprise Park project here.

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Alistair McCallum: preserving public sector spend and creating certainty through frameworks

Alistair McCallum discusses the value of framework procurement in creating public sector certainty and safeguarding spend in an uncertain economic climate.

Much like the rest of the UK, the construction industry is weathering a significant period of economic uncertainty, derived from our impending exit from the European Union. The impact of that remains very much unknown and while this is the case, safeguarding public and private spend has never been more critical.

The world will keep turning and ‘business as usual’ will be maintained but making sensible and judicious investment decisions is vital. For public sector construction projects, this means reliable and efficient routes to market and procurement frameworks are an obvious solution. The model not only creates savings for the public purse but removes a large part of the tendering legwork, saving the sector time and resource.

Ensuring that public sector investment is safe is also high on the agenda. Stability in the construction industry is a hot topic and understandably so. Clients need, and deserve, complete confidence that their contracting partners are a trusted and safe pair of hands and, crucially, that they are here to stay. The continuity, longevity and stability providing by frameworks is the key to giving clients this assurance and in the current climate, this cannot be underestimated.

Frameworks also create substantial added value for local communities and economies – from the support lent to the local job market and engagement of a local supply chain to the creation of training opportunities for local people. Framework contractors are led by a specific intention to ensure that building work brings with it a sustainable positive impact.

At Wates we’re proud to be a partner on 80% of the UK’s leading local authority and central government frameworks, which is a mark of our strong capabilities in delivering on time and on budget while also delivering substantial social and economic value for local communities.

Our responsibility for the Major Works – UK framework, part of the Scape National Construction framework, sees us deliver major construction projects ranging from £10m to £50m for the public sector. In the 15 months since our appointment, we have been involved in a total of 31 projects totalling over £610m with their status either submitted as a feasibility review or converted into an active design or construction contract

These include the City Hub for Nottingham College, a landmark addition to the city’s skyline which will provide high quality college and community facilities together with a new business hub to encourage startups.

Along with a commitment to provide a range of sustainable training and employment opportunities, including 24 work placements, 16 jobs and 13 apprenticeships, we’re also working with the college’s construction department to demonstrate the wide variety of careers available in our diverse industry.

Of course, every construction project whether procured through projects or otherwise, should create social value and have a fair payment system. However, what the Major Works – UK brings is a higher level of accountability; everything is measured and held up for scrutiny against extremely high standards and that bar is continually raised.

For me though, the real reward from our place on Major Works – UK, is the ability for us to create an environment in which client and contractor become partners, sharing a set of mutual objectives and common values. Through early engagement and feasibility we can provide certainty around time and cost far more efficiently that with more traditional procurement routes and typically save our clients six months by getting projects to site faster. It is this collaboration, along with the honesty and trust it promotes, the makes framework procurement a successful and sure solution. Which is exactly what the public sector needs in the current economic climate.

Alistair McCallum is Regional Business Director for Wates Group in the Midlands.

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Tunstall_Mark

Mark Tunstall – Working together for leisure

Mark Tunstall is Design and Construction Director for Wates Construction, on the Scape Major Works – UK framework. Mark has a breadth of experience in building leisure centres and here shares his thoughts on what is required to deliver outstanding facilities for local people.

“Leisure centres are proving increasingly important community hubs for towns and cities across the country. Not least because they provide a focal point for a range of activities that are essential to the health and wellbeing of local people – not to mention the ongoing social and economic development of the area itself. At Wates Construction, we have extensive experience in this sector and as such, are extremely aware of the huge responsibilities that come with delivering such schemes.

“On a practical level, user input at design stage is very important to ensure the completed building meets operational requirements, is efficient and meets the needs of the project business plan while also guaranteeing a comfortable environment for the user.

“Leisure centre construction presents numerous challenges too; they boast a wide variety of facilities, from swimming and diving pools, spas and their ancillary facilities to sports halls, gymnasiums to on-site health services. They are also typically open from morning to evening, seven days a week, this means if you fall short in your delivery it could result in temporary closure, with even the most minor defect causing huge operational disruption.

“Wet leisure projects have particular risks associated with the corrosive environment, pool filtration and the potential for leaks. It is therefore important that a project team works with a healthy paranoia regarding possible challenges to ensure that defects are avoided. It is also vital to capture best practice, lessons learnt and industry innovation across all our projects so they can inform future works.

“Several years ago we were appointed to deliver Luton Borough Council’s flagship aquatic and leisure centre through the BSF Framework, which served to replace the area’s existing leisure centre while also encouraging greater participation in sport coinciding with the 2012 London Olympics.

“This was an immensely fascinating and rewarding project. Our role included early engagement, advising upon elements such as design and location in order to help the Council successfully meet its commitments to the Luton community.

“It was an ambitious project with a tight budget and we were determined to deliver an end product that matched the integrity of the design without compromising on quality. This required collaborative working with whole team to achieve the common aim of delivering a vital new community facility to Luton.

“When replacing existing leisure facilities, it’s also vital to remember the feelings and memories that local people attach to such places; these are buildings where children have learned to swim or made lifelong friends at a martial arts class. At Luton, we went to great lengths to engage with local residents and understand their concerns. This forms part of our ethos at Wates, to always act as a force for good and appoint local contractors and SMEs as part of our supply chain and deliver numerous training courses for local people, all of which we achieved in Luton.

“We delivered on our promise to serve as a responsible contractor determined to deliver an exceptional facility for Luton’s people and as our work progressed, it was very rewarding to see enthusiasm and excitement growing. The Inspire Luton Sport Village has since proven to be a huge success, run expertly by Active Luton, with consistently high demand from local people.

“Since completing Inspire Luton Sport Village, we have delivered several other new build and refurbished leisure centres across the country and continue to focus on sharing lessons learnt and best practice across our project teams. My national role on Scape and the relationships I have built with local teams up and down the country supports our drive to deliver exceptional leisure facilities.

“Step forward to the present day and we are currently delivering several leisure developments including Braywick Leisure Centre in Maidenhead. This project was procured via Major Works – UK framework, part of the Scape National Construction framework and as such, enables us to draw on our experience and work closely with our client at a very early stage to ensure they are able to achieve their unique aims. For example, different swimming pools have differing requirements, such as whether or not they are intended for competitive use, [while the client’s aspirations for the local community may require a specific mix of wet and dry leisure, based upon the population demographic and socioeconomic picture.

“It is our job to work with our clients to deliver a scheme that fully meets their needs, looks the part, provides value for money and is within budget.

“Leisure centres not only play a vital part in improving the nation’s health and happiness, their growing remit and adaptability also plays a significant role in tackling social problems such as poor education and crime. It’s for reasons such as this that we are honoured to deliver these important schemes, delivering leisure centres of an exceptional standard that can support the various needs of communities up and down the country.”

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