Hanley Bus Station Short List Of Construction Companies Announced

Six companies have been chosen to proceed to the next stage of the selection process for the main contractor, which will start building the long awaited Hanley Bus Station in the summer once enabling works have been completed.

The short-listed companies are:

  • C Spencer Limited
  • Galliford Try
  • Kier Northern
  • Laing O’Rourke Construction
  • VINCI Construction UK Limited
  • Wates Construction Limited

The short-listed teams will now undergo the main tender for the works before a main contractor is selected.

Work on the landmark bus station, which forms the first phase of the £350 million East West Centre redevelopment, and the demolition of the Coachmakers Arms is due to start in March.

The East West Centre redevelopment project which will, according to publicity at least, transform the prominent city centre site of the existing East West Centre to create a new, 650,000 sq ft high quality regional shopping centre that will include a department store, a wide range of new shops, cafés, restaurants, vibrant public spaces, a multi-screen cinema, a hotel and improved parking.

We are delighted to announce such a strong shortlist of contractors, which includes a number of the biggest names in the industry. The project has created a lot of interest so narrowing the shortlist down to just six companies has not been easy.

We want to make sure we choose the right contractor for a scheme of this size and importance, and so we will spend the next few months carefully reviewing the tenders before making our final decision.

This is the next important step in the completion of the city’s new bus station. The facility is the first phase of the £350 million redevelopment of the East West Centre and will create a warm and secure space for those using the buses. It is pleasing to see that the tender has attracted interest from companies across the country and is testament to the scale and importance of the development.

The bus station forms the first phase of Realis Estates’ multi-million pound shopping and leisure facility. It will be built on the current John Street surface car park.

Hanley Bus Station Concepts

We have just received copies of the concept images from each of the design teams on the short list to come up with a design for the New Hanley bus station.

The designs are anonymous at the moment until they are reviled by the design teams on Wednesday.

What do you think of the designs, are they what you expected and would you want the new bus station built in this type of style?

Stoke-on-Trent And The Award Winning Bus Station

Many people have their doubts about the regeneration of Hanley, the East West Precinct and the much spoken about bus station. Many people still don’t think that it will happen any time in the near future.

If you go back to early 2009 you will no doubt remember the news around planning permission for this exciting new development, the passing of the death sentence for the Coachmakers Arms, the grand plans and even the stars shopping in the new precinct.

One word was on every-bodies lips while they were talking of these exciting things, not Manchester, not Birmingham nor Leeds, no the word on every bodies lips was Barnsley.

Barnsley and it’s award winning bus station.

Barnsley Transport Interchange to give it its full title, was designed by Jefferson Sheard Architects and won the Award for Excellence at the Institute of Civil Engineers’ Yorkshire and Humber Awards ceremony in 2008.
Since the planning permission was granted for the Hanley regeneration it seems that Barnsley Interchange has been in the limelight again collected the Highly Commended Award for Civic Building of the Year at SCALA’s 2009 Conference.

Barnsley Interchange was recommended to Stoke-on-Trent City Council for visiting by CABE, they are the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space, as it is seen as a well designed and implemented public space.

If you look back through the planning documents & reports from the City Council task group you will see them littered with quotes like:

We visited the brand new £24.5M bus station at Barnsley. We were very impressed by what we saw, it really makes a statement in the centre of Barnsley about its future and the importance of public transport and good design. We were impressed by the use of glass to provide natural light and recommend that our new facility uses glass as part of the design to provide natural light.

That’s just what we want we want something to make a statement, to show people Stoke-on-Trent means business. Don’t forget the natural light, that must tick a few green boxes as well.

We recommend a layout similar to the existing bus station and at Barnsley. We do not recommend the Sheffield layout promoted by First.

Passengers & drivers are used to the layout of the current bus station, so keeping the new bus station laid out in a similar way can only be good. Another tick in the box.

It is a key part of the “Remaking Barnsley” Initiative, a 30 year masterplan. A new £235M Markets Development (1249 Regeneration Partnership) will be developed next to the interchange.

Another tick in the box, a city with a similar sized population has gone and stated publicly, by building a new Transport Interchange, that they mean business and this is the start of their master plan.

Barnsley Interchange is a safe and secure environment, and provides up to the minute information, including:
– Real time passenger information display screens
– Electronic passenger information kiosks
– Help points
– Clear signage for passengers and staff
– Public announcement system
– CCTV
– Vehicle activated doors
Accessibility
– Full accessibility for all users including those with mobility, hearing and visual impairments.

Tick tick tick, this ticks so many boxes for what a forward thinking city like Stoke-on-Trent could ask for in a bus station (we can’t call it an interchange in Stoke as the railway station is still about 1.5 miles away).

PQQ
With all this in mind I found it a bit strange when I heard that Jefferson Sheard Architects who designed Barnsley Transport Interchange have failed to pass the PQQ stage for tendering for the design of our new bus station.

For those of you who don’t know, a PQQ (Pre-Qualification Questionnaire) is the first stage when you want to tender for work with a large organisation such as the City Council. It covers things like levels of insurance, green policies, sustainability and ethical purchase of goods & services from overseas. It is a quick way for an organisation to reduce the long-list to the short-list of who will be allowed to go forward to the tendering process, where cost, benefit & value are some of the deciding factors.

Given that Jefferson Sheard have worked for a metropolitan council at Barnsley, and you would expect PQQs to be roughly the same across most councils, that they have designed health centres, education facilities, award winning transport interchanges and a host of other transport related projects across the UK you wouldn’t expect them to fall at the first hurdle of PQQ.

As far as I am aware feedback on the PQQs has not yet been sent out to the unsuccessful applicants but maybe this will shed some more light on the situation if the feedback is made public.

Tendering Process
Now it could be that given the recent press coverage of the tendering process in Stoke-on-Trent City Council & NSRP that they are hyper sensitive and are going through things with a fine tooth comb.

On the other hand do

High quality materials look better, are easier to maintain and better respected by people resulting in less vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

and
Good design and build quality reduces anti-social behaviour as it commands more respect.

about Barnsley Interchange

and from the task group report:

We recommend that the bus and coach station is build [sic] to a high quality and meets the modern day needs of passengers. The development could be used as a catalyst for future well designed developments in the city centre.

have something to do with it?

High quality materials & good design cost money, could it be that Barnsley Transport Interchange cost around £24.5m to build back in 2007 and the developer of the East West Precinct in Hanley is only willing to invest £3-4m leaving a short fall of around £20m has something to do with it?

If you go back and read the ‘Improving the design quality of the built environment in Stoke-on-Trent-on-Trent’ report written by councillors back in 2005.

    It is not a coincidence that the places with the best quality urban environments are best able to attract people to live, work and invest.
    Good design is a fundamental element in delivering robust and sustainable regeneration in maximising the City’s economic development potential, and in places where people positively choose to live, work and spend leisure
    time. Good design is simply good economics.
    The City Centre Prospectus, states that where the City Council has a controlling interest in a site, it will only allow development with high quality design rather than the minimum standard necessary to secure planning permission.

You will see that there was a desire to build good quality urban environments and that the City Council will only allow development with high quality design where it has a controlling interest.

If you read the recommendation from the task group

We recommend that the Council’s Executive and the North Staffordshire Regeneration Partnership (NSRP) take the responsibility for procuring a replacement bus and coach station.

you will see that the task group recommended that the council had a controlling interest in this development, from what I remember this was agreed and is backed up by the fact that the architects didn’t pass the councils PQQ.

So we can expect a high quality development for Hanley bus station or can we?

Scrutiny
I’m sure a full and proper tender process will be adhered to where the bus station is concerned, but I along with many others will watch with interest as the offers to tender are sent out and returned, the successful tender is announced and as the plans are drawn up and displayed.

Is it too much to ask that we don’t do this on the cheap and that we invest in the City with good quality designs and high quality buildings that the people of Stoke-on-Trent deserve.

That we do it openly and transparently allowing the best company to carry out the work and not give it to someone because they may have known that they needed to have a policy on the ethical sourcing of H3 pencils.

There is no inference of any wrong doing by any persons or organisations mentioned or alluded to in this article.

Why can’t we be more like the French

Why cannot we be more like the French? The reason I say this is because of an incident that occured this evening on Hanley Bus Station when I was waiting for the 18 bus back to Leek. The 6 o’clock service was cancelled and a group of around 20 waited for the next bus that was supposed to turn up at 6.20.

Of course it did not and the next bus was due at 7.10.

I knew what was to happen because I had been caught out by First in October. When I was waiting nearly two hours for a bus then and eventually a bus turned up at 7.10 but not before a heated exchange between a bus driver and a group of passengers. First did not help the situation and the member of staff only escalated the situation and eventually threatened to call the Police after a certain amount of swearing from some angry youths.

On this occasion the passengers were so accepting of the situation. I was saying to them that they ought to complain, but was met with the comment that it was pointless and nothing would come of it. Amongst the passengers was a young couple with a very small baby which by now was wailing with the cold. Eventually I went up to the staff area overlooking the bus station and spoke via an intercom persuading an inspector to come down to explain the situation to the frozen passengers.

He did and after ten minutes re-appeared and organised a special bus to take the passengers to Leek and places in between.

You see I told them complaining in an assertive and polite way can work

However I was struck by how defeatist the passengers were and unwilling to challenge the situation. They were good at moaning, but not very good at trying to resolve the situation. In short many people are bovine.

Why cannot we be more French in the way we challenge authority. Over recent years we have seen the activities of Joseph Bove the French farmer and his anti Mcdonalds campaign, the occupation of closed factories, riots in major cities and the rise of an Anti Capitalists party which has challenged the orthodoxy of the French Socialist Party with an eclectic mixture of traditional communists and members with more contemporary motivations ranging from feminism to climate change.

The example of Bove is especially relevant in the case of Leek as recent weks have seen planning applications for two large supermarket complexes and the sacking of the Town Centre Coordinator much to the irritation of the independent shop owners of the town