Quantity surveyor WT to examine difficulties and identify whether costs and quality targets were achieved.
Quantity Surveyor WT is to carry out an audit of the DETR's move to three headquarters buildings in central London on behalf of Property Advisers to the Civil Estate, a government agency.

WT, which was appointed in the past two weeks, will examine the organisation of the move from 2 Marsham Street to Eland House, Ashdown House and Great Minster House, all in London's Victoria.

A spokesman for the DETR, which asked PACE to carry out the review, said: "The objectives of the audit are to identify whether cost, programme and quality targets associated with the move were achieved and to identify any significant problems. After determination of problems, the audit will identify any lessons learned." WT is expected to report by the end of 1999.

The construction of Eland House by Mowlem and difficulties associated with its operation are expected to be scrutinised.

Ministers and staff at the building, which was a hailed for its environmental credentials, have had trouble dealing with some of the building's advanced systems, such as computer-operated lighting.

Marsham street saga

The spokesman declined to go into any detail about the scope of the study. However, it is not expected to scrutinise the handling of the DETR's former complex at 2 Marsham Street, one of London's most hated buildings, which is still standing despite government promises to pull it down.

The building has sat virtually empty since DETR staff moved out in 1997, even though the Conservatives held an architectural competition to find another use for the site several years before.

Now it is set to be tied in to a deal for the Home Office's private finance initiative redevelopment, for which tenders are invited this autumn.

Bidders are to be offered 2 Marsham Street as a site to buy and demolish in order to build a new Home Office headquarters. In return, the government is promising to occupy space there.

The Home Office wants a 50 000 m2 building for 3000 staff. This would occupy around half the Marsham Street site. The successful PFI bidder would have to fill the rest of the site with residential space to comply with a Westminster City Council planning brief.

This is not expected to deter bidders, because high value housing will probably be seen as an attractive option for the Marsham Street site .

Eland House was to have housed only the DOE, but when Labour merged it with the Department of Transport, it had to accommodate a larger organisation.

This meant that senior staff from Great Minster House had to be moved to Eland House and junior staff from the DOE were moved to Ashdown House.

  • The Labour dominated Environment, Transport and the Regions Select Committee this week savaged the performance of the DETR.

    It said the department had handled privatisation of the Tube and overbudget Jubilee Line Extension particularly poorly. The committee also lamented the fact that the DETR was unable to keep better track of the road maintenance backlog.

    It added that the DETR had made few tangible improvements and that its achievements "have largely been confined to the publication of policy statements and the establishment of taskforces".