Lendlease beats Laing O’Rourke to Manchester Town Hall contract

Manchester City Council has chosen Lendlease to deliver the transformation of the city’s town hall, ahead of rival bidder Laing O’Rourke, in a deal worth around £160m.

The project, which has a full budget of £330m, will see the grade one-listed building fully restored along with extensive, improved public realm around Albert Square. Lendlease has been chosen ahead of Laing O’Rourke; Place North West revealed both contractors had bid for the project in April last year.

Restoration works to be carried out to the building are intended to secure its long-term future as a civic centre for Manchester, as well as enhancing its position as a visitor destination and reducing its carbon footprint and energy costs.

Operating as management contractor, Lendlease will be responsible for overseeing works packages on the project, some of which could be worth up to £40m. The council said there could be more than 100 individual works packages to procure for the project, with a typical range of between £100,000 and £10m. In total, the construction cost will be around £160m.

The management contractor’s deal is expected to last for 53 months to incorporate handover and aftercare periods. As part of this deal, Lendlease has committed to provide 150 apprenticeships and 45 new jobs for Manchester residents.

The target date to have the building fully refurbished and occupied is 2024. The main town hall has already been vacated, with most council services relocating to the town hall extension, although some have moved elsewhere in the city, including the coroner’s court, which has moved to the Royal Exchange.

The team already in place on the wider project, which is expected to take six years, includes Mace as project manager; Ramboll as structural engineer; Purcell as architect; Planit IE as landscape architect; building services engineer Arup; and Faithful + Gould as quantity surveyor.

Cllr Nigel Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This appointment is an important milestone in the Our Town Hall project to improve access to this icon of Manchester and safeguard it for current and future generations.

“There aren’t many construction firms with the expertise and resources required to deliver a heritage project of this scale and complexity on behalf of the city and after a rigorous selection process we are confident that Lendlease offered the best overall value.

“There will also be millions of pounds worth of opportunities for local businesses and people to get involved in the project through this contract, including apprenticeships and other training opportunities.”

Neil Martin, managing director of construction at Lendlease, Europe, said: “Manchester Town Hall is one of the city’s most recognisable and well-loved landmarks. Lendlease has a long track record of working with heritage buildings and enhancing them for contemporary use and we will bring all of this experience to bear at Manchester Town Hall.”

However, Manchester Liberal Democrat leader John Leech criticised the decision to pick Lendlease, which is currently embroiled in a dispute with residents at a block in the city’s Green Quarter over unsafe cladding.

“The fact we even considered awarding a contract worth more than a quarter of a billion pounds to a firm that has treated Manchester residents so appallingly shows just what little regard this council has for local people,” he said.

“When it was revealed that Lendlease was in the running for this contract, the Lib Dems demanded the firm not be awarded any further contracts until they resolved the previous issues that were hitting local people here in Manchester.

“But now that Lendlease has been given this huge contract regardless of how badly they have treated local people, Manchester Council must insist that they pay the £3m Green Quarter cladding bill that is crippling local people and end this disgraceful saga once and for all.

“We should, and must, be demanding much higher standards than this for Manchester residents.”

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