UCML takes the strain with £198m Leeds housing regeneration project

UCML staff at housing estate in Leeds

The complex task of switching off power, water and telecoms in hundreds of Leeds homes in a unique housing regeneration scheme was undertaken by Utilities Connections Management Ltd (UCML).

The latest project where UCML has been taking the strain is a £198 million housing redevelopment scheme in West Yorkshire - a three-way partnership between Leeds City Council, sustainable communities for Leeds (SC4L) and regeneration specialist Keepmoat.

The massive inner city regeneration programme has seen the refurbishment of over 1,200 council homes and the construction of 388 new council homes for rent, together with environmental improvements for the estates involved.

The Little London, Beeston Hill and Holbeck housing regeneration project was the first housing schemeof its kind, with the private finance element being secured through the capital funding market markets through a bond issue.

UCML took on the complex job of handling all utility disconnections from old properties bulldozed to make way for the new homes and then arranged for the new properties to be linked up to gas, electricity, water and telecoms supplies.

The Keepmoat team were so impressed by UCML’s approach that they invited the company to work on another scheme, in Sheffield.

Keepmoat design and build manager Dan Greening said: "The Leeds housing regeneration project scheme was on a large scale and involved hundreds of properties in three areas of the city.

"There were 388 new houses, from two to five bedrooms, built on 10 sites and another 1296 council homes were refurbished, including flats in seven multi-storey blocks.

"Before the new build could start, a substantial number of old dwellings in low rise and high rise blocks had to be demolished and the sites cleared.

"UCML arranged utility disconnections prior to demolition work beginning and also looked after the diversions of gas, electricity, water and telecoms services across the various sites.

"Later the company oversaw utilities connections to the new properties along with the installation of things such as street lighting."

UCML staff at new build houses in Leeds

Dan added: "Overall, there was an awful lot of work involved but UCML handled everything well and efficiently throughout the whole project.

"We were very satisfied with the job they did for us, so much so in fact that we went on to appoint them for another major development project, which is the construction of 219 apartments by Keepmoat at Kelham Island in Sheffield.

"It’s hard to precisely quantify how much UCML saved for us on the Leeds scheme but it has to run into thousands of pounds over the course of the work.

"Of course, there were also considerable savings in terms of the staff time and trouble when they took on all the utilities arrangements on our behalf."

Andy Stephens, UCML’s project manager for the Leeds scheme, said: "This was one of the largest projects we’ve been involved in. The sites, at Little London and Holbeck, were quite complex as there was so many apartments where we had to co-ordinate the timings of the disconnections with the various utility companies.

"The project generally meant a lot of disconnections at existing properties ready for their demolition and the diversion of services where this was considered necessary.

"Our job was to obtain quotations from the utility companies for discussion and then do all the co-ordination work with them at the flats, apartments and houses.

"Later, we also arranged connections and meter installations for the new build properties on ten sites.

"I was personally involved in the project for about two years - everything is now finished and the residents have moved in."

Andy added: "Although it’s hard to put a figure on it, I believe we were able to save the client thousands of pounds and, of course, with myself as the single point of contact, we took away all the strain and hassle of dealing with lots of different companies."