Unlocking the UK’s Regional Development Potential
Our Infrastructure and Environment (IE) business has been busy winning public sector-funded major projects and frameworks right across the UK, as part of our ongoing diversification initiative.
With our regional offices playing a vital role in securing and delivering the work locally, there have been nationwide successes from Bexley to Cheshire and from Scotland to the Midlands.
Benefitting from its size, the team is able to be dynamic by working in collaboration with other consultants on some schemes, whilst being adequately established to resource large projects independently, due to the breadth of services offered. Strong collaborative relationships have been established with many other large engineering consultants, seeing successful delivery of schemes across the UK.
We spoke to Neil Humphrey (Chief Operating Officer of Waterman IE) to get his insight into what is driving the growth in the IE team. Neil says; “Unlocking land is crucial to meet the government’s ambitious housing targets, with 1 million new homes required by 2020. Local authorities and other public bodies are increasingly partnering with developers to take-forward these schemes, enabling both to share in the long-term benefit of regeneration. Often land needs to be de-risked, or access improved through linear infrastructure investment to unlock these sites. Our expertise lies in working at an early stage to provide engineering-led solutions, allowing sites to be presented with minimal risk for onward development. Our engineers are often local to the region in question, so we have a real understanding of the needs of the local community.”
Neil continues, citing the team’s recent appointment for the Environmental and Engineering services for the Cheshire East Framework; “The framework is vital for the continued development of the county since it will provide direct access to the Council’s core land assets together with the opportunity to work directly with the council-owned ‘Engine of the North’, a strategic property development company, who are currently focussing on over 100 hectares of commercial land and a 100-hectare Garden Village following the development of the Congleton Bypass. The framework will also be utilised by the Tatton Estate as they commence their strategic plans to develop parts of their land holding following the completion of the bypass.”
“Further success has come through the Merseytravel Framework, where the team have been appointed by Knowsley Council on the Halsneed Garden Village near Whiston in Knowsley. This former colliery site is the largest combined housing and commercial development in the City of Liverpool region, extending to over 100 ha. This project, together with the Graven Hill village scheme (situated south of Bicester, Oxfordshire and includes the delivery of the UK’s largest self-build housing scheme with circa 2000 new self-build homes), are great examples of the team’s activity in this sector.”
The IE team has also steadily expanded their range of services across the public sector, targeting local authority and national frameworks in addition to wider collaborative opportunities. Neil explains; “We have invested in developing our public sector offering, embracing the opportunity to collaborate with fellow consultants to deliver these opportunities. For example, we are working on national strategic infrastructure projects such as HS2 in collaboration with ERM/ARUP and WSP.”
At a regional government level and across wider local authority networks, the IE team has put these relationships to good use, working alongside AECOM on the Midlands Highways Authority (MHA) framework, and collaborating with Atkins to deliver the West Midlands Highways Authority (WMHA) and Hampshire County Council frameworks. Through these frameworks, Waterman’s engineers are seconded to local authority offices to support development and improvement in the local authority transportation infrastructure.
In Merseyside the IE team have been working with Merseytravel for the last four years, providing engineering and technical services for transport and infrastructure projects across the areas public transport network, including City of Liverpool, the Wirral, Sefton and Knowsley boroughs. In Greater Manchester, the IE Team are appointed by MetroLink to undertake asset management services across the regions extensive tram network, including the Manchester Tram project. Neil says; “We’re excited to be involved in transport infrastructure projects in the north west and north east. Merseytravel, and upcoming investment projects such as the Trans-Pennine route upgrade, which will be delivered in partnership with Atkins, enable our local teams to be actively involved in regionally-important strategic projects.”
He continues; “Our success in this sector can been seen across our offices. In London and the South East, we have been involved with local government infrastructure schemes for some time. Supporting Bexley Council for over 20 years, we provide a range of civil, traffic and transportation engineering services to enable the sustainable, long-term economic, environmental and social regeneration of the borough. Recently, we embarked on a new framework with Lewisham Council, also accessible to all London Boroughs. Elsewhere, in Scotland, the team have been appointed to the ‘Performance Audit Group’ working alongside T&T and PwC.”
With collaboration and innovation across the sector fundamental to the successful delivery of infrastructure projects at a regional and national level, Neil says; “The level of investment scheduled by the Government in the short to medium term means consultants must collaborate. With each playing to their strengths, together we can drive efficiency and value in the delivery of infrastructure projects as we work to unlock the UK’s regional development potential.”
Read the latest edition of our Waterman Times here.