Thurrock Council has scrapped its tender to masterplan a £15 million care home and health complex in South Ockendon, Essex
The local authority cancelled the tender after delays to final approval for the project which needs to be signed off by its cabinet committee.
A meeting of the committee originally scheduled for 12 December is now set to be held on 16 January and, if the scheme is rubberstamped, the hunt for a design team could restart later this year.
In a statement, a council spokesperson said: ‘It was felt to be fairer to bidders to cancel the tender opportunity, rather than requiring them to continue to extend the validity of their tender submissions.’
The original tender required architects to draw up four A4 pages worth of conceptual ideas for the site – potentially leaving many bidders significantly out of pocket following the shock cancellation.
The spokesperson said the requirement was for ‘initial thoughts and not any form of detailed design’ and therefore ‘it was not expected that those bidding for this project would spend a significant amount of time or money in preparing this part of their response’.
A potential bidder however estimated that with between 20 and 30 practices interested in the job, and each spending up to £10,000 on their submissions, the total cost to the profession may have been as high as £250,000.
The team chosen for the commission would have developed plans for an interim care facility featuring 30 ensuite bedrooms along with 45 self-contained one and two bedroom flats.
A masterplan for a new NHS health centre, community centre and additional older people’s housing was also required.
The project set out to redevelop a prominent site known as Whiteacres and Dilkes Wood on Daiglen Drive opposite South Ockendon police station.
Thurrock Council’s spokesperson said: ‘It has now been agreed a report will be considered by Thurrock Council’s cabinet on Wednesday 16 January 2019 and, subject to approval of the report, it is hoped that the development will be progressed later in 2019.
‘Should this be the case, a further procurement exercise will take place. Any design teams who previously submitted tenders for the development will be able to confirm their interest and that there are no material changes to the information previously submitted.’
South Ockendon is a small town on the London/Essex fringes, which expanded rapidly following the creation of a housing estate in the late 1960s.
It is just north of the Thames Estuary and close to the M25 motorway. Thurrock Council is midway through a five-year housebuilding programme which set out to deliver 1,000 new dwellings by 2020.
In July last year, the council launched a tender for a team to deliver a £45 million residential development on the site of the former Culver Centre for vulnerable children along with a £10 million development on an undeveloped corner site nearby.