Progress has been made on major contracts this week, with CN revealing the names of the four contractors in the running for the £300m Google headquarters at King’s Cross and the six firms invited to tender for the £1.25bn Scape framework.
Even though both have a little way to go before final contracts are awarded, contracts of this size and profile are still good for confidence.
The Google headquarters had been talked about for years before the deal was finally announced last week – so it’s good to see the construction will begin quickly. The ongoing development of the King’s Cross site has already transformed that area of London, thanks in no small part to Argent’s long-term vision and approach. Attracting Google, even if it’s taken a little while to confirm the deal, is a major coup; no wonder contractors have been salivating over the prospect.
Scape, on the other hand, was only put out in October. It has a shortlist already and will have a contractor in place by April.
The difference between the two is that while Google is the latest instalment of a fantastic story for the capital – it is the biggest office deal for an owner occupier since before the financial crash and a major signal of confidence for the London office market and the growing TMT (technology, media, telecoms) sector – Scape will have benefits across a wider geography. It is run by West Midlands authorities but offers work throughout the country.
As Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein complains this week, attention on London can overshadow valuable activity elsewhere. Mayor of London Boris Johnson, he grumbles, steals the limelight. Sir Howard highlights that tender prices in Manchester are going up and that there are lots of opportunities. Infrastructure opportunities – from airports to rail – should not be so focused on the South-east.
It’s apt that Manchester has been chosen as the first city outside London to launch the Creating Britain’s Future campaign, led by the UKCG and supported by CN, which promoted the campaign and the industry’s contribution to the economy at the CN Awards last year.
For construction to maximise its contribution, all efforts must be made to ensure the benefits trickle down the supply chain. Google only wants bids from contractors with experience of major projects; Scape requires its framework firms to have turnover above a certain value. But all the Google HQ subcontracts should be let within eight months of the appointment of the main contractor.
The sooner these deals, and others like them, can be signed, the better for the industry and the economy.