Canning Town PFI Project
Canning Town is located in East London, in the London Borough of Newham, immediately east of Canary Wharf and close to the site for the 2012 Olympics. The Canning Town Housing PFI project is one of the original eight housing PFI ‘Pathfinder’ projects and comprises the refurbishment, maintenance and management of over 1,200 local authority homes to the Decent Homes Standard. Initial refurbishment will be completed within 3 years; their management and maintenance is for a total of 30 years. The properties are a mix of low and high rise blocks, street properties and sheltered housing.
The project company formed to act as PFI contractor is Regenter London City East Partnerships Ltd (LCEP) and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Regenter. Initial refurbishment and lifecycle, planned and responsive maintenance and call centre services are being carried out by Equipe, a joint venture between Equion FM and Pinnacle Maintenance Services. Housing management, estate services and the front office liaison services are being provided by Pinnacle Housing. The senior debt provider is Dexia Credit Local.
The project reached financial close on 3 June 2005 and operations commenced the following day. Currently we are ahead of our refurbishment programme, we have completed the catch up and mobilisation works and the residents are reporting a dramatic improvement in their area. The total value of the project is £59m.
Our early lessons
During the preferred bidder period we conducted our own surveys to verify the stock condition data, which was originally compiled in 2002, and to assess the condition of the communal and external areas. This allowed us to better programme our works, get comfortable with our cost assumptions, start with confidence and keep residents informed of our programme.
Establishing services and mobilising works require sufficient time and effective planning. We were keen to hit the ground running and were assisted by the Council who agreed an early works agreement for the establishment of the local office, IT infrastructure and catch up repairs and maintenance works. This not only assisted us in preparing for the contract start, but also provided comfort to the residents that had waited such a long time for the improvement works to their area. It was a win-win situation for all parties involved.
LCEP and our two sub-contractors, Equipe and Pinnacle, are based in the same local office. This has fostered close cooperation and a comprehensive responsive service to residents since everyone is close at hand. It has also meant that all interested parties are close to the ‘action’ and fully aware of all issues on a day to day basis. Problems are dealt with immediately and collectively.
We have also been careful to maintain the involvement of key members of the bid team to provide continuity for the Council and residents, to share their knowledge and understanding of the contract with the operational staff and managers responsible for the service and, most importantly, to ensure that the promises that were made during the bidding stages are delivered.
By having the same contractor responsible for the refurbishment and longer-term lifecycle, planned and responsive maintenance has introduced a flexibility that rarely exists within these contracts.
As examples, we have been able to bring certain refurbishment works forward in the interests of longer term maintenance obligations. We have also been able to work with residents to identify problem areas and work out more comprehensive longer term solutions such as securing concealed areas that have attracted fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour and using them for ‘green’ initiatives.