When lowest capital cost was the sole objective, we yearned for consideration of the life of materials and systems. Now that we have it in a process that has high risks and high rewards, we may not be able to afford recurring costs over more than two decades.
You could understand a contractor wanting to avoid PFI projects and feeling that the public sector should take back some of the risk. Naturally, the Treasury wishes to take advantage of private finance so that costs do not appear on its balance sheet. But should it delegate all of the risk in such a complex building type in satisfying competing demands at design stage and throughout its life?
The cost of design and consultation with users is small relative to the overall cost and it should be added back to the balance sheet, reducing apparent public sector greed. Careful coordination of competing hospital users' needs and development of physical design possibilities could produce a solution valid at the time and indicate options for future change, including associated risks.
Michael Pearson, architect, Michael Pearson Associates, via email.