Hot air in Cardiff ?
Nearly a week ago, Friday June 9, 2023 there was a supplier engagement event for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CVUHB) search for a strategic outline case for the University Hospital of Wales (UHW2) redevelopment.
Staggeringly there is a theory, actually announced on April 13, 2021 that building work to replace the hospital could begin in 2025. Typically it takes 10 years from start to finish and this scheme is not even at the end of strategic outline case.
Some firms switched off during the event as it turned out that, at this early stage, CVUHB only wants a lead consultant to be appointed in an open tender.
All about this
There will be a separate framework for architects and engineers later; this to assist whoever is appointed.
This means, firstly, one of the accountants, many of whom worked on “HIP” related schemes during Covid including the likes of KPMG, Ernst and Young, PWC, Grant Thornton (especially), PA and Deloitte.
“We looked at it but elected not to go (9.00am start in Cardiff!). Grant Thornton is the incumbent business case advisor and for all of the show it feels that they are going through a procurement process to get the answer they want and maintain them / change their brief and gain etc.
“Other parties we spoke to about this (big 4 and smaller boutiques) were of the same view, says an old hand.
This is also against the background of contractors currently competing to get on the latest version of the Designed for Life health framework in Wales and is it worth it if you don’t get much work out of being on it. There are rumours that French firm Bouygues is inclined to not bother.
The CVUHB SOC is stand alone and Cardiff University is a key stakeholder so I especially wanted to touch base with Cardiff University again.
Back in 2017
This was five years after I had spoken to then deputy director, physical and financial resources, estates division Karsan Vaghani in 2017.
Moving out of The Heath?
He floated the idea of a £1.5 billion relocation of the Medical School and Laboratory Sciences to the Heath Park site. The university bought some land, Heath Park West next to the hospital in 2018 or 2019, before Covid, though now the university is looking at moving biological sciences out of Heath Park.
This was all to happen over the five to 15 years from 2018. It was to be done in phases. There were plans to vacate engineering and move it closer to sciences.
Back in 2017 this amounted to a third of the university. Perhaps it still is. Little response was provided by either Cardiff University or NHS Wales press officers. The Welsh Government press office was better.
What level of excitement should the industry have about the future Cardiff University capital programme and its input to UHW2, perhaps a few hundred million pounds again?
The university has actually spent £300 million ending a year or so ago over the last seven years. So now it’s concentrating on backlog maintenance and decarbonisation. This has to be done and reducing part of the estate in line with new ways of working. Its estate has increased by 100,000 square metres. The Department for Work and Pensions moved out of Central Square. This is all part of current thinking.
Decarbonisation is part of the agenda. Yes it has some very historical buildings so difficult to tackle.
So right now this might move the hospital scheme back five or ten years and how many times bigger?
This university is poised to change is vice chancellor. The existing one is due to leave at the end of August, 2023 and the new one will arrive in September, 2023.
This lady comes from New Zealand and prior to that she was at Bristol at the time Patrick Finch was the Bursar there. Incidentally Vaghani worked with Finch at Bristol. Finch was replaced by Andrew Casselden who was head of capital development (2015) but then he left to become director of estates at University of Reading.
Fast forward to now
Yesterday, pm I managed to get hold of the interim director of estates at Cardiff University Anita Edson. She is a peer of Jonathan Stewart of Gleeds where she worked in the early noughties. She worked for the Symonds Group before it was taken over by Capita and worked for Bath Spa University before fetching up at Cardiff University.
She took over from Dev Biddlecombe now at the University of Bath but was working at Cardiff when Karsan Vaghani was estates director there.
Not a long ago she was in charge of dealing with all aspects of Covid where it affected the university. This was a very glum period with little action on the future front.
Commenting on the hospital project bidders day and the sector generally, especially Edinburgh which has four backers and the interest of the commercial sector she had this to say. This is against the background of it taking a very long time to get to strategic outline case.
Cardiff University has even sent special envoys to Scotland to look at what is being done at the Edinburgh BioQuarter.
Edson’s view is Cardiff University is, in reality, tacked on the edge of what is going on.
“We are involved the UHWT. We have meetings with them, the chief executive of Cardiff and Vale Health Board. Our vice chancellor engages with all this too, says Edson.
“This would be joint appointments for certain roles to ensure both parties are involved and taking into account over the programme. So we are there. We are very much canvassing with the Welsh Government. We operate out of the Heath at the moment. It is a failing infrastructure and causing us problems, Edson points out.
Tax office site?
With the former Tax Office site at Llanishen being one of the two locations being considered for UHW2 I broached this subject.
Potential hospital site
“We are still looking at two locations. The next stage of it is to work out which location. They got the first stage through but not the location. So there is still work to be done where the new UHW2 is going to be located. There is limited space for hospital sites as well.
Cardiff has just spent £300 million on a few major projects so I asked if this came within the scope of the Stride Treglown masterplan.
“They have being done a feasibility study for the university around the Cathays Campus and the development sites we have there. This is a bit of a jigsaw but taking into account four areas or schools of the university and how we move them around, she explains.
Toying with police development jv
Relocation from Heath Park
Project News previously reported this included:
1) Library provision in Cathays.
2) Law and politics (LAWPL) expansion.
3) Computer science and informatics (COMSC) expansion and consolidation.
4) Biological services (BIOSV) relocation from Heath Park.
5) In partnership with South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner the redevelopment of Cardiff central police station in Cathays Park.
So this has something to do with health?
“Not specifically and only bits of it relating to the Heath – one small piece of it, she says.
I have been looking at this sector and has Cardiff got any chance of other bodies, an engine that can propel this forward like in Edinburgh?
So it’s as simple as getting the Welsh Government’s head around this then?
Wow that’s a difficult ask really isn’t it?
“Yes it’s a really difficult ask. Yes the university will be expected to fund parts of it.
You can’t do everything?
“Yes and what happens with UHW2 there is going to be a clinical needs assessment. What actually needs to be done and that will spin out what research we have to concentrate on and be located there. There are going to be lots of tie ups. So this is important for our strategy and now we move forward, explains Edson.
Edson also sits with the Association of University Directors of Estates and we went on to discuss another university issue – decarbonisation.
“I am the chairman of the capital spend specialist interest group at AUDE so I very much tie up with what is going on with sustainability. We have to address this issue by 2030. We are little bit behind the curve on this.
It will be exceedingly difficult for you to get there by that date?
“Virtually impossible, though some of it yes depending on the infrastructure.
So are you having to deal with decarbonisation as part of what you do or has Cardiff drafted in somebody else to lead on tackling that or is it part of the Strides work?
“It is split out from that although part of what they are doing in feasibility is looking at the requirements we have to make sure they fit within that remit and re-using buildings rather than demolition. That whole embodied carbon aspect, she explains.
“We have just employed Alison Milanese as our net zero carbon programme manager and we have a team that will sit with her and not just about strategy its also delivery too.
That is interesting these people move about. The University of Arts in London lost their guy to the National Air Traffic Services or NATS. So where did this person come from?
“She’s ex University of South Wales who also worked for a housing association, Valleys to Coast, for a year.