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Ardmore bids to win back £110m job

Ardmore is vying to re-win a £110 million contract it first won nearly 18 months ago to build one of London’s tallest residential buildings on a site next to the 2012 Olympic Park.

It is understood that Sisk has also been invited to tender for the job, which has been on hold since March amid rumours of funding difficulties.

Sir Robert McAlpine is said to have shown an interest in the project, which was won by Ardmore under a £150m contract in spring 2008. The job covers the construction of seven residential blocks at the 150 High Street site
in Stratford, including a 43-storey tower.

Laing O’Rourke is also said to have expressed an interest in the project and then decided not to pursue bidding, as have a host of other high-profile contractors.

As many as five firms could have received invitations to tender from Paddington Churches Housing Association - a subsidiary of Genesis Housing Group.

A source at one firm sizing up the job said: “It was fast-tracked before Christmas. Taking on someone’s work is never ideal.

“For such a complicated project and the speed at which it was being pushed through, what was being asked just wasn’t feasible.”

The source added that many contractors would have felt the same and decided that other schemes should take priority. Another contractor said firms would struggle to make money out of the job.

“On the face of it, it looks good, but it’s so heavily integrated with the Olympics that the damages and penalties for being late are just not worth it.”

The OJEU contract notice for the project, issued in November, stated: “Due to the site’s proximity to the Olympic Park, all external elevations and external works will be required to be completed a minimum of four weeks
before the commencement of the Olympic Games.”

Work is expected to start on site in May and be completed in just 32 months.

However, two blocks will be required to be handed over within approximately 11 months of commencement.
As well as the 43-storey tower, the scheme comprises the construction of six other blocks - five of which are 10-storeys high and one of which involves extending an existing five-storey building by two storeys.

Foundation works, including the construction of a basement, have in the main been completed, as has the concrete superstructure up to level four of two of the blocks.

Genesis shelved the scheme last March, citing planning and design issues, but widespread reports of funding problems emerged after work stopped on site.

A source close to the project said: “Ardmore looked at it from a development point of view but it couldn’t come to an arrangement with Genesis.

“Genesis secured funding a month or two ago, but because of the amount of funding from the HCA the job had to be re-tendered.”

The housing association has said it is funding the project from “long-term borrowings”, including a bond issue that raised £250m last December.

It is understood to have secured funding from the Homes and Communities Agency. A Genesis spokeswoman said: “We have submitted a new planning application to incorporate an elderly care facility and to reflect other improvements in design quality under the new, more challenging market conditions.

“In this context, we are retendering the project to ensure compliance with HCA funding requirements.”

She added that permission for the revised scheme, which was submitted in November, is expected to be granted this spring.

Most of the design changes relate to internal layout changes stemming from a review of the mix of units required.
As a result, additional stair cores are also required in new positions, which require extra piles to be placed in areas where the basement slabs have already been completed.

Tender documents are expected to be picked up at the end of the month, with a submission date in March.

The scheme will provide 704 residential units, ranging from affordable rented to high-value private sales, as well as one block providing extra care facilities.

A limited amount of commercial space will also be created on the ground floors of the blocks.