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Verry and Galliford fight for campus deal

Two contractors are competing for a £70 million deal to redevelop a college in Hertfordshire.

William Verry and Galliford Try are going head-to-head for the work, which will see part of Oaklands College in St Albans completely redeveloped for property firm GVA Grimley and Oaklands College.

Plans will involve a complete overhaul of the existing Smallford campus, turning it into a new educational development called the Central Hub.

Located just outside St Albans town centre, the scheme originally attracted interest from Norwest Holst and HBG. Both declined to tender for the project due to heavy workloads.

The project is being let under a two-stage tender contract and documents for the first stage are due to be returned in mid-September.

One contractor will then be selected to go through to the second stage of the deal, where final negotiations will take place before a contract award in December.

A source at one bidder said: "This is the preliminary price costing stage so we don’t know much about the competition we are up against yet. Not much information is being passed around about this job."

Plans for the scheme were submitted to St Albans City and District Council in June. The council asked for more information to be included into the proposals and a new application was submitted to its planning committee last week.

The development will be built on a green belt site, and much of the existing college at the Smallford location will be knocked down. The remaining area is set aside for a housing development.

The Central Hub will house specialist facilities, including state-of-the-art information technology areas, extensive sports grounds and enhanced transport links.

As well as modern workshops and high-tech laboratories, the facilities will also include a performing arts centre.

Once completed, the Central Hub will also be used as a major community facility which will be open throughout the week for educational and public use.

Subject to planning approval, work is set to start on site in November.

stephanie.hendries@emap.com