In the News: winning a contract for a new urban extension

Written by: Colin Marrs
Published on: 1 Oct 2014
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Last month, planning consultancy David Lock Associates (DLA) was appointed by Birmingham City Council to draw up plans for a 6,000-home green belt urban extension to the city.

DLA partner Heather Pugh led the team which won the tender competition.

Q. How did you pick up on the possibility of getting this work from Birmingham?

A. The project was issued through an open tender at the beginning of the summer through the Official Journal of the European Union. We had known that the city was planning to do some green belt releases and were keeping an eye on the fact they might be outsourcing some of the masterplanning.

We tend to monitor all the tenders coming out and have weekly meetings on tenders.

Q. What made you bid for the work?

A. Firstly, the project is closely aligned with our key business – the creation of urban extensions – we have done a number for public and private sector clients. Birmingham wrote a clear brief which was well defined and realistic.

Q. How did you put the bid together?

A. We did a look round the site and started to poke round some of the ideas and issues that might be taxing Birmingham – putting ourselves in their shoes. Delivery was a big issue – they wanted to move quickly. Their programme is quite ambitious, and we thought about how we could help with the examination into their local plan, which starts this month, and in which the site is allocated.

For every tender we pull together a team specialising in the relevant aspects of planning expertise. Each one is bespoke.

Q. What did the final bid document look like?

A. It was 36 pages long - including images - plus appendices. We drew heavily on case studies – these were deliberately chosen to show projects with parallels to the issues Birmingham is facing. It took about a week’s work over a few weeks to put it together.

Q. What happened after you submitted it?

A. The bid was submitted in June. We then hit holiday season and the council got more tenders than they anticipated so it took about six weeks for them to draw up a shortlist. Along with three other firms we were invited to give a short presentation. This lasted about 20 minutes and was followed by about 20 minutes of questions.

Q. What happens next?

A. We found out about two weeks ago that we had won the contract so we will now begin work to draw up the masterplan for the site – we understand the intention of the council is to eventually incorporate it as a supplementary planning document. Of course, there is always a risk that the inspector does not accept the local plan but we are dovetailing our work with the timetable to ensure we don’t get too far down the line if this happens.