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Salford University postpones decision on £32m arts scheme

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The contract award for a £32 million Salford University arts block has been delayed, sources have told AJ’s sister title Construction News (CN)

There are currently six bidders for the Stride Treglown-designed scheme, revealed by CN in February as Bam Construct, Laing O’Rourke, Lend Lease, Shepherd Construction, Vinci and Willmott Dixon.

The works include a seven-storey arts building with recording studios, flexible theatre, performance rooms and cafe, as well as a new-build art and design workshop and redevelopment of open space around the building and the university square.

CN understands contractors bidding for the scheme, which was approved by planners last August, have been told they face a further wait of at least three months before a decision on the preferred bidder is made.

A source said: ‘It may be that the 2012 Budget is kicking in, or that they may be hedging their bets while a planning issue is being resolved, but they are saying that there is a three-month delay for now.’

It is believed the same contractors are being kept on the bid list - for which tenders were submitted several months ago - and that the deal will not go back out to market.

However, a contract was due to be awarded in the spring and now looks set to be pushed back.

A spokesman for Salford University said: ‘It is too early to say what the next stages in the process will be as we are still evaluating the first round of tenders. However, we can confirm that the Arts Building will be going ahead.’

The final contract value is expected to be closer to the lower estimate of £32million. The original OJEU announcement had stated it could be as high as £38m.

The project is the first phase of the university’s £100million, 20-year masterplan, ratified in 2009, which it intends will create a ‘vibrant and successful campus’.

The project includes refurbishment and extension of the Chapman Building, already under way, and a £30million job to build three 10-storey accommodation blocks to house 2,000 students on the campus. A procurement process for this is also under way.

A Salford University spokeswoman said the first round of tenders was being evaluated and the project would be going ahead.


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