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First battles set in ‘super framework’

Sir Robert McAlpine is leading the early running on the £4 billion academies ‘super framework’ – which has nearly £1bn of work already in procurement.

The Olympic Stadium contractor is in contention for two of the first three jobs to reach shortlist stage through the framework.

It is understood to be competing with Leadbitter for the £50 million Richmond scheme, being procured through the South and East region of the framework. Meanwhile, in the North and Midlands, it is thought to be up against Kier for the £14m Worcestershire project.

The final job in the first wave to reach shortlist stage pits Balfour Beatty against Willmott Dixon  for the £14m South Gloucestershire project.

All six firms through to the final bids stage will be keen to make an early impression on the  highly competitive framework.

Projects with a total value of £916m are now in procurement – almost double the £500m that delivery body Partnerships for Schools initially expected to see during the first five months of the
framework, which started operation in December.

The Richmond project is understood to involve work on three academies in the south London borough; the South Gloucestershire job is to rebuild an academy; and Worcestershire is thought to be two-thirds new-build.

Winners are expected to be announced during the summer and early autumn. Leadbitter stands out on the shortlists as it is one of five regional contractors on the framework.

Balfour Beatty, Bam Construct, Bovis Lend Lease, Carillion, Interserve, Kier, Sir Robert McAlpine, Wates and Willmott Dixon are on both regions of the framework.

They are joined in the North and Midlands by Clugston, Shepherd and Vinci; and in the South by Apollo, Leadbitter and Rydon.

The broadly scoped framework was designed for local authorities to procure education buildings  before they entered the Building Schools for the Future scheme.

However, the framework has double the value of its predecessor, as well as scope to deliver non-Local Education Partnership BSF schemes.

It has been hailed by contractors as a super framework, to be used by councils to procure an increasing range of work.

The simplicity of the academies procurement process has also been cited as a factor in the falling popularity of BSF projects.

PfS is working to reduce the average 75-week BSF procurement process to 52 weeks to make the scheme more attractive for contractors. But there are fears that its LEP model is under threat.

In February, H&V News’ sister publication Construction News revealed that the £130m Bournemouth BSF programme had been switched to the academies framework after failing to attract enough interest for a traditional OJEU-based competition.