31 March 2022
Client of the Year sponsored by Costain
Client of the Year Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 finalist
In 2018, London Borough of Hounslow launched a hugely ambitious programme to build 5,000 homes by 2022, including 3,000 for social rent and 2,000 for shared ownership/other affordable housing, in response to the growing housing crisis.
If that four-year programme wasn’t ambitious enough, a year later the council declared a climate emergency, committing to reduce its emissions to net-zero by 2030 – a move that would require major changes to the way any future homes were built.
In 2020, the world was then struck with Covid-19, adding further timeline and supply chain pressures to the council’s homes pledge. Budget was also extraordinarily tight and complex.
As part of its programme of works, Willmott Dixon was selected to build two major residential projects: Frank Towell Court (FTC) and Brentford Block D (BlockD).
FTC is a £31.8m housing complex, delivering 102 sustainable homes, including the construction of two nine-storey towers, a four-storey block of flats and seven Mews houses, with construction between March 2021 to October 2022. Beginning shortly after in September 2021, BlockD is a £38m scheme delivering 96 council fully-wheelchair accessible homes across three blocks, with commercial space and public realm. It is due to complete in June 2023.
Despite the enormous challenges that lay ahead for this client, they have delivered astute leadership at every stage of the project delivery. From detailed tender documentation that not only tied into their homes pledge but their wider climate commitments, to rapid decision-making, enabling them to agree WD's contract sum within a two-hour phone call – unheard of in the industry.
Quality over cost has always been their priority, with appropriate procurement weighting and a high level of focus on social value and the Willmott Dixon team. This approach has been maintained throughout the project with Hounslow investing above and beyond and pushing the status quo in several areas, including going one step further on building safety compliance, requiring all their homes regardless of height to be installed with non-combustible fabric.
Their willingness to share risk, procuring with a supply chain partner on a certain package of works where WD didn’t feel comfortable taking the liability, demonstrated their flexible, pragmatic approach to unlocking issues, keeping the momentum going and the project moving forward.
Elsewhere, they’re not afraid to constructively challenge WD to deliver far-reaching social value and sustainability benefits for their community. Eg. on FTC alone, Willmott Dixon is targeting £3.3m in SV spend, including £1.59m through a building lives academy and £1.3m through Willmott Dixon building enrichment programme). They also encourage innovation, including supporting WD to run a pilot project to install a new heating system in BlockD to provide a lower carbon output.
Client with a hugely ambitious pledge to build 5,000 homes by 2022.
Flexible, pragmatic approach to sharing risk with supply chain.
Constructively challenges contractors to deliver green goals, as part of its climate emergency 2030 pledge.
Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Ceremony on Thurs 30th June 2022.
About the Client of the Year Award (sponsored by Costain):
Construction clients have an important role to play in transforming the way the industry operates. How projects come to market has a significant impact on the ability of the construction industry to provide innovative, whole life value-for-money solutions. More info