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Seven-month turnaround for legal support on £550m public sector procurement project

AuthorsRoy BarryMichael Winder

Seven month turnaround for legal support on 550m public sector procurement project

Our latest large-scale procurement project saw our award-winning real estate group act on behalf of Oldham Council to kick-start its £550m regeneration strategy.

We concluded the detailed legal dialogue in just seven months — a remarkable turnaround for such a complex and competitive process, which can typically take between 12 and 24 months to complete.

Here, we detail how we achieved such an efficient turnaround while working hand-in-glove with Oldham Council’s internal commercial and legal teams and a host of external legal advisors to reach the right outcome for the town and its people.


Phase one — designing a bespoke procurement process

Oldham Council — an existing client — approached our partner and head of development Roy Barry in the spring of 2021 via our links with the North West Legal Consortium to see if we would be able to support on this procurement project.

Our partner and commercial lawyer Michael Winder used his extensive public procurement experience to design bespoke governance around the process, working in tandem with Oldham Council’s external commercial advisors CBRE, led by executive director Adam White and with support from associate director Simon Ross. Having such an experienced and committed advisory team alongside us was a significant asset in the successful completion of this project.

Strong and cohesive teamwork enabled us to provide clear guidance and support to Oldham Council’s internal legal team, laying out its options in relation to the procurement process. Given our experience, we already had a feel for what decisions were needed and when they needed to be made — enabling us to set stringent but realistic deadlines to keep the project on track.

We closely coordinated this alongside CBRE and Oldham Council’s development team and identified potential commercial and project-specific resource requirements to support the Council’s internal teams along the way.

The procurement process was then put out to market in the spring of 2022.

This was followed by hiatus on the legal aspects of the project while the market provided feedback and prospective developers came forward.


Phase two — ‘ruthlessly efficient’ legal process

Roy Barry then worked up the suite of comprehensive master legal documents to give effect to the project, as well as the legal heads of terms to be issued to the bidders and their lawyers.

Working effectively with a diverse array of internal Council stakeholders (from planning to finance and estates), Roy ensured that everyone’s interests and priorities were accounted for. After applying his own recommendations, a swift consensus was reached. To maximise efficiency, we assessed and took forward our insights from the procurement process, working efficiently with Oldham Council’s internal legal team to close and release the market-facing legal heads of terms in September 2022.

In December 2022, we commended the final stage of the detailed legal dialogue with the final bidders who qualified, taking into account the settled heads of terms. We then ran a ruthlessly efficient and direct legal process to get the project over the line in rapid time, working closely with the legal teams of both bidders.

We managed to conclude this stage of the legal dialogue process in just three months — for most procurement projects, negotiations can take much longer.

After careful assessment of each bid from both a commercial and legal perspective, Muse Places — Insider North West Property Award’s Developer of the Year for 2023 — emerged as the preferred bidder.


Levelling up in action

A wonderful example of levelling up in action, this exciting project is set to generate millions of pounds of investment for Oldham — a borough town with rich heritage and huge potential.

We are immensely proud to have supported Oldham Council on this journey and wish Muse Places all the best for the future development.

Roy Barry said: “The speed and efficiency at which we completed this complex project demonstrates the capabilities of our team in achieving positive outcomes in public procurement for regeneration, which can sometimes suffer from slow and cumbersome processes.

Our ability to work hand-in-glove with a mass of both internal and external teams was critical in getting the job done. Being able to apply our extensive procurement and development experience helped to avoid lengthy legal battles. Our sincere thanks to both Adam White and Simon Ross of CBRE for their invaluable support throughout the process.”


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Specialists in real estate law and large-scale procurement work — including for the public sector — we act for developers, joint ventures, infrastructure providers, funders, contractors and local authorities.

We're recognised by The Legal 500 as having worked on some of the biggest and most complicated development deals of recent times.

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