News round up

8 November 2012

Welsh Assembly endorses new procurement strategy

The Welsh Assembly government is set to endorse a new Construction Procurement Strategy that will include a Welsh version of the Construction Commitments, a clear community benefits policy, and measures to create equal access to public work for firms of all sizes.

The draft strategy has been drawn up by a public-private working group, and will be submitted to Welsh finance minister Jane Hutt this month. It draws on a 2010 report by Constructing Excellence in Wales, No Turning Back. CE in Wales now hopes the strategy will be mandated across the public sector in Wales.

The strategy includes guidance on breaking up framework arrangements into various value bands.

"If there are five lots, you will only be able to bid for three, it stops the bigger contractors going down into the smaller lots of interest to the SMEs,” says Milica Kitson, chief executive.

Contractors in Wales are already benefiting from SQUID, the Supplier Questionnaire Information Database. Launched in February, it allows suppliers to upload pre-qualification information to a central database, where it is accessed by public sector clients.

“We're trying to improve the PQQ process. Once you've completed the information, all you have to do is update it. There's no subscription or fee, so it's not like ConstructionLine,”  explains Kitson.


This cost £80m: can you guess what it is?

It’s not a state-of-the-art business campus, nor a high-profile public institution. This dramatic atrium links two wings of a new six-storey comprehensive school in west London that has cost an astonishing £80m.

Holland Park School’s lavish finish is the result of high property values in the area, which meant that part of its former site was sold for £102m.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea describes the specification as “unusually high”, but says the remaining £22m has been used to build two new affordable housing schemes and will contribute to the development of other schools in the borough.

Designed by Aedas, the school was delivered by contractor Shepherd under a £60m design and build contract.


Public projects behind private in delivering to cost

Analysis of project KPIs in the annual Constructing Excellence/Glenigan survey shows that the public sector is lagging behind the private sector in delivering to cost plans — results that underline how far public projects have to travel to meet the aspirations of the Government Construction Strategy.

CM asked Glenigan to split the scores for client satisfaction, contractor satisfaction, defects, cost predictability and time predictability for the private, public and infrastructure projects.

The results showed that 57% of public projects were delivered to cost, compared to 68% in the private sector and 69% in the infrastructure sector.

In terms of time predictability, contractors were able to deliver the construction phase on time or better in 40% of cases, compared to only 37% of private sector projects. But public sector projects proved less impressive in the predictability of the design phase, suggesting that the public sector is struggling to implement design freezes.

On a more positive note, the industry clearly prefers working with the public sector, scoring it higher than the all-sector average for the provision of information and payment terms.


Lee Tunnel opens up

The £635m Lee Valley Tunnel project, part of Thames Tideway Improvements, is one of many sites across the country opening to the public for the Open Doors weekend on 9-10 November.

The tunnel is nearly 7km long and 7.2m wide.The joint venture team of Morgan Sindall, Vinci Construction and Bachy Soletanche is also building four shafts and two culvert systems. The tunnel will take 16 million tonnes of untreated sewage a year from Abbey Mills pumping station in Stratford to the treatment works at Beckton.

Visitors will be able to see overground works and materials being craned down one of the shafts. There will also be live views from the tunnel, with a camera on the tunnel boring machine broadcasting to a screen outside.

Open Doors aims to raise the profile of the industry and the career paths it offers.


Palatine’s just fine for university

Contractor Laing O’Rourke has completed the Palatine Centre, a £35m complex of buildings for the University of Durham. It includes a new student services building, university HQ, and a catering facility.

The project is the latest delivered by the contractor at Durham’s campus. The architect for the Palatine Centre was a collaboration between two firms, _space and PH Partnership.

The sustainable project includes solar thermal collectors, photovoltaic panels, air source heat pumps, solar shading, rainwater harvesting and sedum roofing.

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