Fire authority seeks partners to ‘commercialise estate’

Simon Donohue

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority is seeking potential partners to help it consider how to unlock the best commercial value from its estate, including the development of an £8m training facility.

The search could lead to innovative commercial uses of GMFRA's towers, yards and training rooms.

The authority recently purchased a plot of land in Bury, Greater Manchester with the intention that it will become a new, state of the art training site and community hub.

It is anticipated that the site will feature a 'fire street', providing a base for fire extinguisher training; a water rescue training facility; a ship fire fighting simulator and means of demonstrating techniques for working at height and on water.

A prior information notice issued by the authority says that it is also "keen to explore what other opportunities, if any, may exist for its wider estate, in particular towers, yards, other training venues and training rooms".

A statement adds: "This Prior Information Notice is issued with a view to the authority consulting with and where appropriate, holding initial discussions with, interested parties who may be able to offer the authority a more detailed and realistic expectation of what the opportunity, interest and 'size of the prize' maybe, should it decide to appoint a partner, or a number of partner organisations at some point in the future to maximise the commercial opportunities that may exist with the new site and the wider estate.

"The authority is aware of a number of other operating models for similar facilities across the UK and wish to explore further this exciting opportunity.

"The authority has a completely open mind and is flexible in its thinking and approach to what the opportunity may or may not be and whether appointing a commercial partner or partners or a managing agent is a realistic expectation remains to be seen.

"It is hoped that through market engagement this will become apparent and that sufficient information will be gleaned to allow the authority to make a more informed judgement of how the future landscape may look and what potential operating models may best utilise the asset and provide some commercial benefit to the authority and its partners.

"If following the market engagement there appears to be both genuine interest and commercial benefit in pursuing the approach, then a formal tender/contract notice will be issued as required."

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