This week, readers argue that sometimes the best solution is the simplest; returning Battersea to its role as a power station and getting procurement briefs right rather than re-inventing the process
Power up Battersea
Regarding your story, “Battersea Power Station site worth extra £470m if demolished” (15 February, www.building.co.uk), here’s another thought.
Why not turn Battersea Power Station … into a power station? Future energy supply is one of the UK’s most pressing challenges and there is an acute need to replace our ageing infrastructure.
Surely sites that are well served by existing infrastructure for road, rail and water are at a premium. Housing can be built elsewhere. What our urban centres need is the ability to meet a growing demand for energy.
Battersea is a case in point. The new Nine Elms site will see 752 new homes built along with a hotel and a raft of commercial property - in addition to the needs of industrial Nine Elms. These sites will require a lot of energy. They will also produce a lot of waste.
By bringing emerging technologies to this industrial landmark, we could solve both of these problems without compromising on character and history. The Victorians
knew energy and power were vital. They demonstrated it through clever engineering and inspiring architecture and we would do well to follow their example.
David Rycroft, Morgan Sindall Professional Services
A thorough brief
I read with interest “Closing the Gaps”, (leader, 10 February), which looked at the government’s latest approach to procurement. It appears however that whenever a major public project is either delayed or exceeds its budget, the government looks for a new procurement solution rather than addressing the causes of these issues. In reality, the causes are more likely due to an unclear brief, unrealistic budget, inadequate design or poor contract administration.
While alternative procurement methods may speed up mobilisation and manage the allocation or transfer of risk, neither will remedy a brief that is ill defined or a budget that doesn’t recognise all the costs. These new methods may determine who’s responsible for the risk of additional, late and changed design information, but they still will not compensate for information that’s incomplete or poor contract admin.
If the government really wants to address the delivery of its major projects, it must articulate a project’s brief with focus and clarity, understand the risks that drive cost and time and employ robust contract management. To achieve this, the government and civil service must recognise that it requires expert help.
The government should resist the growing trend for procuring numerous services such as quantity surveying, engineering and contract management as large single appointments. While this approach appears to suit the current desire to cut costs and simplify procurement, it can create a barrier to accessing the best expertise available.
The government should look to procure experts in separate lots and so utilise the best skills and advice from across our industry. This way, it will not only improve the efficiency of project delivery, but also increase investment throughout our sector.
Simon McGrail, Blake Newport
In “Cost model: Standardised Schools” (17 February, page 50), on page 51, Edventure was described as a joint venture between Bam, Bryanston Square and Aecom. In fact, Edventure is a Bryanston Square sole project.