Novo to restart at Brown Street after contractor rejig

The Altrincham-based developer has brought the construction of its Hale residential scheme in-house by taking on three staff from former main contractor CPUK, which collapsed into administration in April.

The decision to acquire staff from Construction Partnership UK Group enables Novo to recommence work at the Brown Street project, which was 50% complete at the start of lockdown and has been stalled since. 

CPUK was 30 weeks into a 70-week construction programme when the site had to close temporarily because of the pandemic, and the company fell into administration several weeks later. 

Following negotiations with subcontractors and Trafford Council, with which Novo has a development agreement for Brown Street, Novo has effectively become the contractor and developer for the 22-home scheme, instead of having to go through the process of finding a new contractor to replace CPUK, which would have caused further delays.

Under the new arrangement, three CPUK staff who were working on Brown Street have joined Novo. Simon Yearsley has been retained as project manager, along with quantity surveyor Lee Stephenson and site manager Craig Lomax, after the trio lost their jobs following the contractor’s demise. 

Brown Street comprises 22 homes, including 10 townhouses and 12 shared ownership apartments on a half-acre site previously used as a public car park operated by Trafford Council.  

The planner for the development is Nexus, Project 3 is the architect and Planit-IE is the landscape architect. 

Paul Birch, commercial manager at Novo said: “Trafford, Novo and the whole team have come together in difficult circumstances for the benefit of the project.  

“The whole team have worked with the best interest of the project and a single focus of recommencing the works as quickly as possible with the least amount of delay and disruption.” 

He added: “We immediately identified the most appropriate procurement route following the notification of the administration of CPUK, following which [Novo managing director] Ben Fearns identified the importance of using construction staff to manage the delivery on site.” 

In a statement, Novo said it hopes to re-start on site “before the end of this month”. 

Fearns said: “It was with great sadness that we learned of the administration of CPUK, an organisation with which we had an excellent working relationship and held in high regard.

“Our goal now is to ensure the scheme is ready to recommence on site as soon as it is safe to do so. In the face of significant constraints, we are very pleased to be securing local jobs and keeping this project on track.” 

Cllr James Wright, Trafford Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, added: “The resumption of construction at Brown Street is a priority for Trafford, as not only will the scheme deliver much needed affordable homes in the area, but the return to work will provide a welcome boost for the local suppliers and sub-contractors working on the project.”  

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