UCML helps housing society save £76,000 in major Rochdale regeneration scheme

UCML staff at Rochdale building site

Innovative thinking on new gas, power and telecoms networks by the team at Utilities Connections Management Ltd (UCML) has helped the UK’s first tenant and employee co-owned mutual housing society save £76,000.

Rochdale Borough Council and mutual housing society RochdaleBoroughwide Housing (RBH) are working together on a £6.1m million scheme to regenerate the neighbourhood of Kirkholt, Rochdale.

Work started early this year on the redevelopment of The Strand in Kirkholt to builda new parade of eight shops and a community hub split over three floors, which will offer local residents a wide range of facilities.

In addition 16 new apartments for affordable rent, delivered in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency, will be built as part of the scheme.

To make way for the new apartments and shops two blocks of 1960s flats are being bulldozed. Work started in January and it is anticipated that the whole project will be completed by the summer of 2018.

RBH is the UK’s first tenant and employee co-owned mutual housing society, with over 13,500 homes throughout the local area. It has deliberately taken a phased approach to the scheme to allow local shops and community facilities to remain available throughout the construction period.

When it came to handling statutory services connections to the site RBH called on the expertise of UCML. The company is a one-stop shop for businesses, developers, contractors, housing associations, care home providers, architects and many more across the UK that require electricity, gas, water and telecom connections and disconnections.

RBH Development and Regeneration Programme manager Daniel Wood said: "We’re very pleased with the work done for us by UCML because on a development such as The Strand every penny saved really counts.

"The total saving for us so far has been £76,000 for all the services into the site.

"Of this £47,000 was saved on gas diversion work. We were originally quoted £53,000 by the service provider but UCML managed to negotiate this down to just £6,000, which was pretty impressive.

"There was a further saving of £3,000 made on water diversion work but UCML also saved us about £26,000 on the bill from British Telecom.

"There are two blocks of old apartments and shops at The Strand that are being demolished ready for the new building to take place. BT Openreach originally wanted to charge us £36,000 to keep telecoms to the remaining block while the others were being rebuilt, as the lines had to be diverted.

"UCML’s project co-ordinator Steve Davies got involved and came up with a solution that eventually brought the bill down to £10,600."

Daniel added: "We decided to use UCML on The Strand redevelopment as the company had previously done work for us on other schemes in Rochdale and made savings on the disconnection of services.

"UCML has a proven track record and one of the main reasons we have used the company is that we have a single point of contact for dealing with the different statutory companies, and Steve provided great technical knowledge.

"We’d certainly use UCML again because the project management is second to none and the company gives the sort of service which we wouldn’t be able to provide if we had to take care of this kind of thing ourselves."

UCML project co-ordinator Steve Davies said: "Although this isn’t the most complicated job we’ve handled it has been quite difficult due to the logistics of the project.

"We managed to come up with a good design that incorporated the site’s telecoms into the building work. It was a novel solution that involved properly phasing things to avoid the client having to pay out a large amount of money.

"The job is ongoing and it’s been so complex because the levels of the site have been changing drastically as different phases of the work have taken place but we’ll sort everything out in the end.

"I believe that having me as a single point of contact with the various statutory undertakers has been very helpful to the client.

"Our next job at The Strand will be to deal with putting back all the connections to the same site next year in time for when people start to move into the newly built apartments and retail units."