Arun District Council has been awarded £7,234,201 from the Levelling Up Fund to deliver a public realm improvement project at Littlehampton seafront. This report provides an update on project progress and seeks approval to reprofile the budget within the funding allocation and for the heads of terms to procure a design and build contractor.
The Principal Landscape and Project Officer presented her report highlighting that it provided a general update as to how this project was progressing. She focused Members’ attention on the sections of the report that were relevant to what the Committee was being asked to approve. Firstly, paragraph 1.3 noted the appointment of the consultants through the Southern Construction Framework. It was outlined that the fee submission had exceeded the sum allocated in the Levelling-Up Fund bid and the approval from the meeting of the Committee in December 2021. This had partly been due to the percentage applied previously being on the lower side and because the sum for surveys originally sat in the contingency sums for the project. This meant that there was a need to increase the fees in order to award a contract for the full value and the table in the report illustrated that adjustment.
Paragraph 1.7 of the report looked at the intention of appointing a design and build contractor which would mean that at this stage they could be involved in the preconstruction phases which would help the transition through to construction. Finally, Paragraph 2.2 set out the heads of terms for the procurement process in terms of the scope, contract duration and the form of contract.
The response from Members was that they were pleased to see the project reaching a stage where a contractor could be appointed to meet the tight deadlines that were a condition of the grant. A question was asked over the condition of the drainage system and capacity of the existing toilet provision and whether the council had access to site maps of the drainage network in the area. Similar issues had been encountered with the Littlehampton Wave project when at that time the council did not have access to drainage maps for the Southern Water pipes and so it was hopeful that Officers could confirm or provide reassurance that this project would not be hit or delayed in this way causing unexpected extra costs as a result of finding unexpected or unknown drainage networks.
The Officer response was that some of this information was already contained in council systems, however, pipes were not always evident. Therefore, some underground surveys would be undertaken next month to map the underground infrastructure.
A due diligence exercise to review the scheme had been undertaken with this process highlighting a number of considerations requiring further investigation. Were any of these serious enough to jeopardise the project? The Officer confirmed that at this stage it was not possible to answer – the process of survey work and the collection of data would help the consultant team to pull all information together and from that it would then be achievable to identify any causes for concern.
Although Members of the Committee welcomed the update provided and applauded the progress being made with the project, there was one Member who felt that communication around LUF projects had been sporadic and he sought a commitment from Officers to have regular updates planned for future meetings of the Committee. The Chair referred Members to the Committee’s Work Programme which detailed when these updates would be received.
Having had the recommendations proposed by Councillor Cooper and seconded by Councillor Roberts,
RESOLVED – That
(1) It approves that the budget for the procurement of multi-disciplinary services for RIBA Work Stages 0-7 is increased from £460,340 to £549,357 to be contained within the project budget; and
(2) Authority be given to carrying out a procurement process for the appointment of a design and build contractor to provide pre-construction and construction services in accordance with the heads of terms in 2.2 of the report.