Jarvis refused to comment but sources close to the team claimed the entry of McAlpine was a positive one.
One said: "It's an excellent move. McAlpine is a good firm, especially with Stiell [its facilities management arm] on board."
It is understood that Bouygues, Costain and Sodexho dropped out because of concerns over the scope and the risk profile of the two-pronged scheme, called project Allenby and Connaught. A source at one of companies said: "It was a very expensive bid. You have to look closely at the risk you run taking up a scheme this size. Having weighed it up we decided against going ahead."
The Jarvis team, which also includes architect HLM and QS Gleeds, is lining up against two other consortiums – one spearheaded by Bovis Lend Lease and Amey and the other led by Mowlem and Brown & Root. A team including WS Atkins, Balfour Beatty and Amec pulled out earlier this year.
It is so vast. There doesn’t seem to be much logic in putting the two parts of the scheme together
Source at one of the bidders
One part of the project covers the upgrading and rebuilding of facilities around the Salisbury Plain training area. The second element, called Connaught, will do the same for Aldershot in Hampshire.
The contracts are part of a shift from shared accommodation to single flat-like units fitted with en-suite bathrooms. Construction starts in 2004 and will provide 10,700 beds.
Sources pitching for the schemes said the shake-up was a sign of concern over the size of the project. One said: "It's so vast. There doesn't seem to be much logic about putting the two parts of the scheme together – they are 40 miles apart."