Framework Appointed to Deliver Council’s Housing Ambitions

A FRAMEWORK of professionals – including two Sunderland businesses – have been appointed to support the council’s own housing development projects.

Sunderland based BDN Ltd and Identity Consult have been awarded contracts to support Sunderland City Council’s Housing Development and Investment Plan (HDIP), which will see £59m ploughed into building new homes and bringing empty properties back into use for a range of residents.

Two further professional services firms, Gateshead based Portland Consulting and Elvet Chartered Surveyors based out of County Durham, have also been appointed to the council’s Professional Services Framework, which will enable effective delivery of the HDIP that will see more than 360 empty properties brought back into use as family homes over the next five years, 117 new build bungalows delivered, and through new build, conversion and refurbishment, 95 new homes created to offer supported accommodation.

Bidders were assessed not only based on the quality and value for money of their submission, but also on the social value they will add through the contract – including the number of local employees they will hire to support the projects they deliver and the engagement and support they will offer to local school and college visits to raise aspirations and inspire the next generation.

More than 40 consultants from across the UK bid to be part of the framework, which will ensure the council can quickly access the professional consultancy services required to progress the design, costing and statutory management obligations of its housing development projects. Though procured by housing services, the framework is also accessible to other teams across the council too.

Councillor Rebecca Atkinson, portfolio holder for Dynamic City, said: “The assembly of a highly skilled framework of professionals will be key in allowing us to build on the early momentum we have achieved thanks to our successful projects across the city thus far.

“We’re delighted that all of the firms are from the North East, helping us to keep the ‘Sunderland pound’ in the local economy, but it’s particularly good to see two businesses that are based in the city awarded these contracts to ensure local social value is maximised.

“Not only is this programme delivering for our residents, providing high-specification homes for some of our most vulnerable people, but it is adding value to the economy too, creating more opportunities for our people and businesses. That’s something we’re immensely proud of.”

To date, professional consultancy services have been procured individually for each project. However, having a framework in place will save time in managing procurement processes, enable quicker progress on projects as they present, and supporting the increase in momentum in the delivery of the Housing Delivery and Investment Plan so that targets can be achieved.

BDN Ltd, which recently announced plans to move into the former Simpson Street School in Deptford, Sunderland, emerged as the first placed architect on the framework. The company – which also offers engineering services – works on both residential and commercial schemes and has a keen focus on sustainable development.

Richard Marsden, managing director of the established practice, said: “As a firm that is relocating to Sunderland, and that has a number of developments of our own underway in the city, we are absolutely invested in its bright future. Being able to play a part in designing buildings that will enhance the lives of residents long into the future is not only a privilege in itself, but it will allow us to create yet more opportunities for local people as our business grows.”

The principal designer consultancy is Identity Consult. Mark Doherty, managing director of the firm, which is based at the city’s Quay West, said: “We are delighted to have secured our place on the new Sunderland City Council Professional Services Framework.

“Identity Consult are based in Sunderland and in recent years we have helped deliver a number of the city’s most iconic buildings such as the Foundation of Light, the Beam, the Fire Station and Hope Street Exchange amongst others. Being part of this framework will allow us to strengthen our relationship with the council, helping to deliver on a range of new projects. It is an exciting time to be based in Sunderland and we look forward to playing our part.”

Civil and structural engineering consultancy services will be delivered by Portland Consulting Engineers. The company provides expertise in the main engineering disciplines of Civil and Structural Engineering from their office in Gateshead, and has a considerable wealth of experience working on affordable housing, open market housing, care and extra care schemes, with over 50 per cent of its workload being within the Housing Sector.

Lee Barr, the company’s managing director, said: “We are delighted to be appointed to provide Civil and Structural Engineering Consultancy Services to Sunderland City Council’s Professional Services Framework. We understand that the competition for the selection was tough and therefore, feel exceptionally proud to be awarded 1st ranked Engineer on this exciting regional framework. With a business focus that embraces the housing sector, we look forward to being part of the framework, providing quality housing, regenerating the local community and delivering social value to Sunderland.”

Elvet Chartered Surveyors will provide cost management consultancy services. The company was established in 2007 and specialises in cost management, building surveying and project management, offering a range of related services to assist clients operating within the property and construction industry across the UK.

Glen Griffiths, a director with the firm said: “We are delighted to be appointed to a local framework to support Sunderland City Council in the delivery of their fantastic programme, which will see them build a range of affordable homes across the city.”