Dividing the masterplan into stages
Norwich City Council, in conjunction with CABE and other stakeholders, decided to have a two-stage masterplan process. The aim was to establish an overall masterplan, to be used as a firm basis and framework for a series of subsequent, more detailed, guidance documents.
Assessing expressions of interest
A list of 10 practices was drawn up, all of whom had a track record in masterplanning complicated city centre environments. After initial discussions with these practices, one was eliminated from the list because of a possible conflict of interest.
The remaining practices were then asked to formally express their interest in tendering for the first stage and were provided with a summary of the brief, along with a select range of other supporting material. These expressions of interest were distributed to an assessment panel, which consisted of representatives from:
- Norwich City Council, including property services, highways, planning and urban design
- Norfolk County Council
- Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART).
The joint assessment of submissions against pre-agreed criteria resulted in a shortlist of three practices. It was very important at this stage for the client and assessment panel to be sure that any of the three practices were capable of delivering the project in financial and resource terms.
Issuing details of the tender
Tenders were issued to the three practices containing:
- a list of the criteria against which they would be judged
- a commitment by the panel to make a qualitative assessment against the criteria, making its selection on the basis of design quality before opening the fee tender
- a clear statement on the maximum budget available for the project.
The three practices had a comprehensive tour of the masterplan area and met the client for informal discussions. A ‘data room’ was set up in City Hall containing all the relevant policies, reports, maps and other information for the practices to use for their submissions. This was a much more efficient and cost-effective way of giving access to information, rather than photocopying and sending out large quantities of background documents.
Selecting the winning practice
The three practices each gave a 20-minute presentation of their proposals and approach, followed by a 40-minute question and answer session. This was based around 10 questions, which related closely to the judgement criteria. After the presentation was complete, candidates were handed the list of questions, asked to choose three that they would like to answer, and were given 15 minutes to do so. This gave the panel an insight into how the consultant teams interacted in deciding which questions to choose, and the presentation and leadership in delivering the answers.
After the interviews, the selection of the winning team was not difficult as a broad consensus emerged from the panel’s discussion. Once a decision was made, the fee tenders were opened. There were no unpleasant surprises and the winning practice's fee tender was within the project’s budget. Urban Initiatives were appointed as masterplanners in late 2008.
Consulting with stakeholders
After an initial phase of information gathering, a workshop was held in January 2009. This drew together all the key stakeholders to comment on the developing vision for the St Stephens area.
A second workshop was held in the summer of 2009, allowing stakeholders to comment on the draft plans. Four city centre venues held public exhibitions of the proposals, and there were formal presentations to both the Norwich design quality panel and the CABE national design review panel.
Overall the completed outline masterplan took 10 months to produce. The final report was published in October 2009, accompanied by a summary of the consultation.