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O'Rourke and First Base link to hunt £3.7bn job

Affordable housing developer First Base has jumped ship from Lend Lease to link up with Laing O’Rourke again for a £3.7 billion regeneration scheme in east London.

The pair’s E-Central consortium, which also includes developer Chelsfield Partners and housing association East Thames Group, was chosen last week along with Bouygues to sit on a delivery panel for Newham Borough Council’s regeneration of the Canning Town and Custom House areas.

The teams, along with existing panel member Countryside Properties, will bid for sites as part of the phased regeneration of the area that will see the building of 8,000 homes and the creation of 500,000 sq m of floor space in a new town centre.

The places on the panel came up for grabs following a decision in January by Lend Lease to withdraw from the scheme, having previously been chosen as one of three panel members in 2005.

First Base had been part of the Lend Lease team but swapped sides to link up with Laing O’Rourke when the places were re-bid.

A version of Laing O’Rourke’s E-Central consortium had previously been on the panel but following the departure of Crest Nicholson and George Wimpey, housing associations Genesis and Family Mosaic and property firm Development Securities, the Dartford contractor was the only remaining member.

While First Base is part owned by Lend Lease, the affordable housing specialist has grown increasingly close to Laing O’Rourke in recent months, having worked together on a recently completed £18 million headquarters for East Thames Group.

In May, First Base selected Laing O’Rourke to build a £30 million residential scheme in Elephant and Castle, and is also expected to appoint the firm for a nearby tower scheme.

First Base sister company Bovis Lend Lease had previously provided preconstruction advice on both schemes and had been tipped to take the main contracts.

At the time, First Base operations director Phil Wade said that it was not snubbing its sister company.

He said: “We continue to want to work with Bovis Lend Lease as part of a panel of tier one contractors. If they have the right skills, capacity and people for a job, we will consider them.”

Site history

The first phase of the 15-year Canning Town and Custom House regeneration scheme began in 2007, with the demolition of unoccupied tower blocks at Fife Road to be replaced by 600 homes as well as new schools.

This work will be followed by seven further phases to complete the area’s renewal.