Atkins’ Sellafield win brings office boost

A joint venture between Mace, Areva and Atkins has been selected as preferred bidder on a £1bn contract with Sellafield, expected to trigger a requirement for up to 50,000 sq ft in the Birchwood office market.

The Silos Direct Encapsulation Plant will be a bespoke, mechanical handling and encapsulation facility for nuclear waste. The project is part of the waste retrieval and hazard reduction programme for the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo at Sellafield.

The project was retendered after key contractors Vinci and Nuvia pulled around 450 staff off the job two years ago when the contract was halted after significant cost overruns. The contract is reportedly valued at between £800m to £1.4bn.

Office agents at Lambert Smith Hampton have been retained by the Atkins-led JV to source an office for the project team. Atkins is an existing tenant at MEPC Birchwood Park and has been tipped to take linked first floors at Thomson House and Chadwick House within the park. Pin Property's Allday House nearby is also a contender. The JV is understood to need occupation by August.

The requirement is one of several large office searches under way in Warrington, with Ombudsman Services also looking for up to 60,000 sq ft to keep pace with rapid growth after reaching capacity at Bruntwood's Wilderspool Business Park. The regulatory contractor is understood to favour multiple sites in order to reach different labour markets and provide contingency cover in case of emergency.

Sellafield will now enter a period of preferred bidder clarification and confirmation of commitment with the JV while the contract is finalised and all legal processes are completed. The final contract award will require approval from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The JV will take the project through detailed design, construction, manufacture, procurement, installation, and inactive commissioning.

Scott Reeder, chief projects officer at Sellafield, said: "The market recognised the challenges presented by this important and complex project and two strong joint venture organisations emerged to tender for the contract. Sellafield Ltd was very pleased with the quality, capability and commitment offered by each of these organisations."

BE Group and JLL advise MEPC Birchwood Park. DTZ and Altus Eileen Bilton advise Pin Property at Allday House. CBRE advises Ombudsman Services.

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