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Exclusive: Highways England to regionalise consultancy lot on £5bn Collaborative Delivery Framework

Highways England is shaking up its £5bn Collaborative Delivery Framework by regionalising work for consultants on the remainder of the programme.

Under the new plans, work in CDF’s £500m design and engineering services lot will be split geographically, with consultants being able to bid for certain packages across six Highways England regions.

Previously, the CDF’s 10 consultancy firms had to bid for work across the country through mini-bids on a project-by-project basis (see box).

But the consultants will now bid for regional packages, with a guarantee of winning at least one package.

Highways England said the new approach would “reduce the overheads created by secondary competitions” and provide “greater value for money” in the delivery of roads projects.

Work will cover a total of 52 junction improvement, road widening and bypass projects.

The previous CDF model led to complaints from the supply chain around ballooning bidding costs and poor collaboration.

Speaking to Construction News in June Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan acknowledged the concerns and said the organisation was looking at ways of reducing the number of mini-tenders within its frameworks.

He said this would allow Highways England staff to spend more time on the designing and planning of new projects instead of overseeing mini-tenders.

Under the new model, the six regions will be split up into two or three packages with some packages containing up to seven projects (see table).

Region PackageNo of schemes

North-east

Package A

4

Package B

4

North-west

Package C

3

Package D

3

Midlands

Package E

6

Package F

1

South-west

Package G

2

Package H

2

South-east

Package I

7

Package J

4

Package K

4

East

Package L

6

Package M

1

Package N

5

TOTAL

52

Schemes have been packaged according to “location, route type, value and complexity”.

The firms can bid for all of the 14 packages. They will be awarded a minimum of one package and a maximum of two packages.

It is understood that bidding for the regions opened last week, the assessment for which will run throughout November, with preferred bidders announced in early January.

The decision follows a period of consultation with Highways England and its suppliers over its future procurement methods.

Construction News understands that Highways England considered following a similar model for CDF’s three contractor lots, although this was not taken forward.

One consultant told Construction News that the new procurement could see a “bun fight” between firms battling it out for the most attractive packages.

The consultant added that certain packages in the South-east would be more appealing geographically and financially and as a result would attract the best engineering teams.

This could result in regions such as the East attracting less interest, which would impact the pace and quality of delivery, the consultant added.

However, another consultant said the new model was not a “massive change” for firms, adding that many consultancies were already set up in “regional hubs” anyway so they would be able to deliver high quality work across all regions.

Highways Agency CDF winners

Lot 1 - Design & Engineering Services (indicative total spend £500m)

  • Amey
  • Arup
  • Atkins
  • CH2M
  • Hyder Consulting (UK)
  • Jacobs Engineering UK
  • Mott MacDonald / Grontmij JV
  • Mouchel
  • URS Infrastructure and Environment (UK)
  • WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff

Highways England is currently preparing its procurement strategy for a new £7bn framework, which will cover the remainder of the £15bn Roads Investment Strategy.

Construction News revealed in June that Highways England would be launching its new £7bn Routes to Market framework next spring.

A Highways England spokesperson said: “It is important that we engage with and listen to our suppliers so that wherever possible we can improve working practices, deliver further efficiencies and provide greater value for money.

“Suppliers involved in the Collaborative Delivery Framework, which is helping to deliver road improvements quickly and efficiently, expressed concerns about the volume of secondary competitions and we have been working together with them to explore solutions to address their concerns.

“As a result of this engagement it has been agreed that the design elements for some of our major projects will be packaged together to reduce the overhead of secondary competitions.”

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