Bovis Lend Lease, Carillion, Sir Robert McAlpine and Amec are to bid for £300m contract next month

Four contractors are lining up to build three printing plants for newspaper group News International, which publishes The Sun, the News of the World, The Times and The Sunday Times.

Bovis Lend Lease, Carillion, Sir Robert McAlpine and Amec are due to submit bids next month, with a decision expected later in February.

The contracts are expected to be valued at about £300m, or half of the £600m overall investment planned by the publishing company run by Rupert Murdoch.

News International announced in October that it intended to move its print facilities from Wapping in east London, its home for 18 years, to plants at greenfield sites in Enfield, north-east London, Glasgow, and Knowsley in the Merseyside area.

An insider at one of the bidders said the schemes were significant. He said: “These are big jobs. The competition will be hot.”

The development plan is expected to take five years and will enable the newspapers to print in colour on every page.

The project teams on the three schemes are believed to include architect Burks Green and consultants Waterman and DSSR.

  • Sir Robert McAlpine is favourite to pick up a £150m office scheme in the Fetter Lane area of central London.

The firm is expected to beat off a bid from Bovis Lend Lease to build the New Street Square scheme for developer Land Securities.

Demolition work was due to start on the project, designed by Bennetts Associates, this week, with construction expected to begin in the summer. The scheme is made up of four blocks grouped around a central square and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2007.

Accountancy firm Deloitte & Touche signed up for about one-third of the 65,000 m2 office space last October.

In November, a report claimed that a neighbouring occupant, solicitor Kendall Freeman, was threatening the scheme with an injunction because of concerns regarding natural light at its nine-storey block at 43 Fetter Lane.