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Alder Hey hospital's £167m construction reaches financial close

A consortium including Interserve, John Laing and Laing O’Rourke are poised to begin building Alder Hey Children’s Hospital after its complex funding structure reached financial close last week.

The Acorn consortium will deliver the £288 million development on behalf of Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. It will have a floor area of 51,000 sq m, with 270 beds and 16 state-of-the-art operating theatres. The construction element is worth £167m.

Financial close had been expected at the end of 2012, but was delayed as the trust and sponsors combined various funding routes to find best value, including through the private finance initiative and pension fund money.

John Laing and Laing O’Rourke will each hold 40 per cent of the investment equity, while Interserve will take 20 per cent. Laing O’Rourke is to design and build the hospital, while Interserve will maintain infrastructure on a £50m FM contract.

Following a funding competition last summer, M&G Investment and the European Investment Bank were appointed preferred funders, with SMBC as an account bank.

A proportion of the scheme is to be funded by the trust’s financial resources, alongside charitable donations, with the remainder funded through PFI.

Commenting on the £167m price tag, a senior source close to the project told CN it hadn’t been “materially downsized” but that the previous figure included certain non-construction elements such as plant and services.

“There’s nothing in terms of the scope of the project, in terms of what the hospital does and what goes on in there that’s changed,” they said.

Speaking on behalf of Acorn, John Laing director of healthcare projects Peter Ward said: “We are delighted to have achieved financial close on Alder Hey in the Park and look forward to working with Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust for the next 30 years.

“This is an exciting project for all of us, not only because of the innovative nature of its funding and design but, more importantly, because it will provide the very best facilities and therapeutic environment for sick children and their families across Europe.”

Interserve chief executive Adrian Ringrose said: “We welcome this opportunity to help Alder Hey realise its ambition of creating what will be one of the finest children’s hospitals in the country.”

The scheme will also include a multi-storey car park with 1,200 spaces – 200 more than the current site.

WSP has worked on the project since 2010, providing engineering design services for Acorn. The consultancy was briefed by Laing O’Rourke to reduce onsite labour, maximise offsite construction and improve health and safety.

WSP project director Malcolm Davidson said: “Alder Hey hospital is going to truly iconic – it will be talked about for years to come. The design is a unique integration of engineering and architecture and was designed with its patients, children and staff in mind every step of the way.

“It is very exciting that these designs are about to be brought into reality and we are immensely proud to have been part of, and continue to be part of, this ground-breaking and important project. It set a new benchmark in children’s healthcare design for decades to come.”

The hospital’s design was unveiled by health secretary Andrew Lansley in June 2012. It is scheduled to open in 2015.

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