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Univ North milestone passed

Univ North, the College’s state-of-the-art, sustainable, intergenerational education and living space in North Oxford has reached a crucial stage in the project’s development. The evaluation of the five contractors’ responses to the College’s Pre-Qualification Questionnaire has been completed and Invitations to Tender have been issued to the three high-quality construction contractors that won the shortlisting competition. This marks the passing of another major milestone. Three contractors are now working with their supply chain to develop their best bids. The successful companies are:

Gilbert Ash

The three contractors have embraced our bespoke tender process, which was crafted with the College by Bidwells Project Management. The bids from the contractors are expected back in 12 weeks’ time. The bidders will be supported throughout with engagement sessions with the Univ North design team to help ensure that the project pricing is the best it can be. Once the tenders have been returned, there will be a careful evaluation process to identify a preferred construction contractor.

Andrew Grant, Finance Bursar and Univ North Director, said: “It’s a hugely exciting stage in the project. Identifying our potential construction partner is a vital step. We shall be moving ahead at an increasing pace now, and the design team has been remobilised in support after the hiatus of the pandemic.

“It’s no secret that these types of large capital projects take an enormous amount of time and planning. While there is still design work to complete, more than 550 pages of design details, contract information, and so on have been assembled to give the contractors a very clear idea of what the College is asking for. This progress truly records the transition from ‘pre-project’ to ‘project’ and it is a milestone passed that is worth celebrating.”

Richard Todd, Project Manager, Bidwells, said: “As would be expected, the process for the procurement of the construction contractor will be comprehensive as we seek to find an organisation who can work as a trusted partner, adept at delivering projects successfully and considerately. There are many matters to keep in mind given the live nature of the site and the importance of minimising disruption for the College’s neighbours.

“University College and the project team are also committed to selecting a contractor with a relevant track record of delivering similar projects. The College is looking for a company that has delivered their projects with sustainability at the forefront of their construction management plans while working to communicate the current and planned works throughout the project.”

Dr Grant continues: “It has truly been a whole team effort to get to where we are today and enormous credit goes to the entire design team, led by Niall McLaughlin Architects Ltd, with Price and Myers, and Max Fordham and many others all of whom have made their respective critical input and mark.

“Crucially, however, our biggest thanks go to our Old Members, donors and supporters who have provided fabulous commitment, challenge and financial support to enable this Univ North vision to become reality. I am sure that it will be particularly pleasing to our supporters to have the construction contractors now engaged in progressing the project. I look forward to sharing further updates in the coming months.”

What else is ahead of the Project in 2022?

The design team will be working intensely in parallel with the tender process, focusing on taking the current design into detailed technical form to specify exactly what the client requires. The design team and main support comprises:

• Architect: Niall McLaughlin Architects
• Civil & Structural Engineer: Price & Myers
• Building Services Engineer: Max Fordham
• Cost Consultants: Arcadis
• Project Management: Bidwells
• Arboricultural: FLAC Ltd
• Planning: Barton Willmore

Detailed technical design is targeted for completion in Michaelmas Term 2022, which allows for contractor input and deep collaborative input to finalise the construction contracting.

The final contract award for the construction works is programmed for Spring of 2023, with the construction of Phase 1 starting promptly after the letting of the contract. The first study bedrooms for students should become available in 2025.

Refurbishment and demolition surveys in preparation for Phase 1 are currently underway. These will enable safe demolition and site clearance prior to the commencement of construction.

Site preparation has been the subject of extensive consultation as Scott Walker, Univ’s Project Manager notes: “It has been very satisfying working with our contractors, consultants and neighbours to ensure the smoothest transition into construction. The College has submitted a suite of documents to Oxford City Council to demonstrate the discharge of the pre-commencement planning conditions. When these are approved, it will permit the start of demolition and enabling works, which is an essential precursor to construction. Demolition works will commence later in 2022 and must be completed well before the start of the 2023 nesting season (which runs from early March to late August each year). This will ensure no harm to any wild bird species. Prior to starting any demolition and site clearance works, our risk assessments will ensure that there is no active nesting activity. It is going to be a very busy summer!”

For further information on nesting birds see rspb.org.uk.

You can read more about the College’s vision for its complementary community, and our latest developments, on the Univ North microsite.

Published: 30 June 2022

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