Faithorn Farrell Timms LLP

Redevelopment at Royal Crescent, Southampton

The project

A partially completed project, abandoned in the financial crash of 2007, the site at Royal Crescent, Southampton had sat dormant for a number of years before being sold to Shojin Property. Faithorn Farrell Timms were required to identify a development partner to enter into a Joint Venture to complete the works under a separate JCT contract with both parties taking profit share from the overall development. As part of the scheme, the appointed development partner was to submit a revised planning application for an additional thirteen units, extending the building from five-storey to seven-storey with the top levels to be lightweight frame construction.

Our Role

We were appointed as Employer's Agent and Principal Designer for the works. Prior to seeking a development partner, we appointed the structural engineer from the original scheme to carry out a full structural survey for the existing partially completed building to highlight any detrimental effects the works had suffered whilst sitting dormant for nine years. This then formed part of the tender information, highlighting areas of required remedial works.

Following a lengthy process, Wright Investments were identified as the preferred development partner and a contract was entered into in March 2016. We then worked with the Contractor to develop proposals for the additional units application and, upon approval, compiled a JCT Design & Build Contract, monitoring and reporting as works progressed to completion.

As part of the funding for the works, we were tasked with liaising with the monitoring surveyor and providing evidence of criteria set out in the financial agreement.

The challenges

Aside from the works sitting dormant for nine years, the original construction had been formed of 'Xella' blocks, which are designed and manufactured off-site in Belgium. For the works to progress, it was key that the original design was maintained and the supply recommence from the manufacturer to ensure continuity of construction.

As the Building Regulations had evolved since the original approval, engagement with the local authority over the standard of the building works was vital in ensuring the site could be certified on completion. Similarly, the original planning approval required 'EcoHomes' certification which had long since been repealed, therefore careful consideration of sustainability requirements was required.

Another challenge was the basement construction and the Building Warranty provider. It was suggested that the waterproofing may not reach the required standard for insurance purposes and further investigation would be required as the original construction information was no longer available.

The Solution

Through engagement with the Belgian supplier, the supply of the bespoke block-work was revived and the Contractor able to accurately programme the supply and installation. One of the planning conditions required the fabric of the building to achieve thirty percent greater thermal efficiency over and above Building Regulation requirement. Since the Building Regulations had been updated to include significantly greater thermal efficiency, achieving a far higher target would have been difficult. Therefore a bespoke dispensation on the target was agreed with the planners, based on a comprehensive thermal model of the construction by specialist consultant.

A waterproofing consultant was also appointed to assess the works involved in providing additional tanking to the basement. This proved to be cost prohibitive as well as an unacceptable amount of space lost within the basement. An alternative consultant was appointed to core drill the concrete to analyse the mix used. It was confirmed the grade was appropriate for the installation to the satisfaction of the warranty provider.

Added Value

We were able to provide our client with our significant experience in housing development in both delivery and by using our database to source an appropriate development partner.

Using our expertise in dormant projects, we effectively highlighted the potential risks of completing a historic project and offered innovative mitigation measures as necessary.

Despite being appointed to manage the JCT Contract, we offered advice and assistance on the JV Contract as works progressed between the two parties on cost over runs and impact on the schemes overall profitability and its sharing between the parties. We also advised on the assignability of collateral warranties given that the funders of the works changed on a number of occasions and their long term interest in the works would be limited.