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Keele University shelves contest after site rethink

Keele University - aerial view
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Keele University has cancelled a competition to find an architect for a £21 million research facility in Stoke-on-Trent

The Staffordshire university officially ended the design procurement process for its medical research development centre (MRDC) after deciding to consider moving it to a different site.

A contract notice this spring called for expressions of interest in delivering RIBA stages one to seven for the ‘integrated research facility’ on the grounds of the University Hospital of North Midlands (UHNM). The design contract would have been worth £400,000 for the successful practice.

But a fresh notice in the Official Journal of the EU this month said: ‘Due to a strategic review regarding the scope of the proposed MRDC project, Keele University has decided not to progress with this procurement exercise.’

Mark Bacon, director of engagement and partnerships at Keele University, said: ‘Our original proposal was to construct a new building for research and development on the hospital site, in partnership with the hospital trust.

‘We are now proposing that this facility may be built on the university main campus. As such, the original tender specification was no longer valid, due to the potential change in building location, so it was withdrawn.’

The competition’s cancellation comes as architects expressed their anger about ‘exploitative’ terms for a contest for a music centre at the University of Sheffield. 

Russell Curtis, director at community interest procurement body Project Compass, said: ‘Another week, another example of a major public body showing blatant disregard for consultants who have doubtless wasted considerable sums in preparing abortive submissions for a non-existent project.’

The proposed 3,700m² structure was planned to allow Keele University and UHNM researchers to collaborate on new products, services, diagnostics and therapies.

It was due to include offices, meeting rooms, laboratories, clean rooms, a clinical trials unit and a patient research suite.

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