The Private Finance Initiative presented some challenges for procurement and delivery but allowed the Consortium to take a long-term investment and interest in the quality of Grove Village.
Securing Private Finance Initiative (PFI) status
In 1999 Manchester City Council set up a steering group of council officers and members and two local tenants’ and residents’ associations to lead the regeneration of Plymouth Grove. They led consultation of the wider community to identify opportunities and residents’ priorities for the area.
Having established the overall vision and priorities, they successfully bid for over £15million government funding through the PFI programme. This injection of public funding would help to attract the substantial private sector investment needed for improving the estate.
Selecting a preferred partner
The client group shortlisted four teams of developers and consultants. These teams were invited to bid for the regeneration project and managing the estate for a 30-year period. Each team was asked to submit a compliant bid as well as an ‘optional compliant’ bid. This gave the teams an opportunity to stray from the brief if a case could be made for added value.
Manchester City Council formally appointed the Grove Village Consortium in January 2002 on the basis of their optional compliant bid. The Consortium consisted of:
- MJ Gleeson as principal contractor
- Nationwide as financing partner
- Harvest Housing Group as lead registered social landlord
- PRP as masterplanners and architects.
Consulting residents and stakeholders
All four bidders were strongly encouraged to consult residents and community groups during the competition process.
Residents from the estate associations, local councillors and officers reviewed the bids, studied the detailed plans and consulted with the wider community over several months. This included a day-long information event, door-to-door surveys, visits to similar estates, the production of a video and the use of a drop-in ‘PFI shop’.
Delivering the project
Several empty properties were refurbuished in autumn 2002 and in March 2003 Grove Village took over the management – but not ownership – of council stock. The full-scale refurbishment programme began in November 2003, followed a month later by the demolition programme.
Typical improvements included a new bathroom, kitchen, roof, and rewiring. Residents remained in their homes during the work although relief accommodation was provided for shift workers. The average turnaround time was three weeks per property.
Managing the estate for 30 years
A Special Purpose Vehicle was established with the project partners to deliver the regeneration, and manage and maintain the estate throughout the 30 year contract,. This provided valuable continuity for the community and supports long-term sustainability.
An estate warden programme helped with managing a contract that needed to work around the lives and concerns of residents.
The new-build, open-market housing was undertaken as a separate development but within the scope of the PFI project. This has also allowed the Grove Village Consortium to generate profit and retain a long-term commitment to the estate.