and space has created a building that is functional, appropriate for its use, and has a real sense of place.”

Collaboration An ‘open book’ process was utilised in the build, with all parties assisting in putting together a successful funding bid submission, and collectively guiding research on this specialised project. Each party was also involved in the consultation process, with all available expertise employed to inform what was a robust brief. As part of the collaboration, greater cost certainty could be achieved from the outset, buildability could be scrutinised, and full buy-in to the design could be achieved. This made realising the required design quality more achievable. James Green, partner at Pellings, explains how the open-book idea was initiated: “Ashford Borough Council had previously worked with local contractor Denne (now BYUK), including on a large PFI project, and had developed an established relationship at high level. “Accordingly, there was a willingness to work together on both sides to deliver this high-profile scheme. To appoint Denne directly, the council had to use an OJEU- compliant framework. In turn, to demonstrate value for money for a direct appointment, Denne suggested an open book relationship whereby the prelims and overhead and profit would be fixed and the individual work packages tendered to the market.” He continues: “In this way the council could demonstrate value for money. This approach is fairly rare, especially with local authorities,” he concludes. The same arrangement has been carried forward to the next project, which is currently on site at Danemore, Tenterden.

Green reveals what the transparency means in practice for a consultant: “For a normal contract you are often kept at arm’s length and not aware of the deeper issues. “The nature of the relationship – open book plus the historical element – brought greater transparency.” He added: “This was amplified by the duration of the project.” He believes the process fostered a greater understanding of the challenges faced by the contractor and how they impacted both costs and programme. Green continued: “We were able to see the costs for each package and be involved in the selection of each sub contractor.” Daniel Scarsbrook of Ashford Borough Council explains some of the extra benefits



this system produced: “A risk register was produced by Pellings, and risks were allocated accordingly at the start of the project. We were working together to overcome the challenges of the project. “Generally the approach was more collaborative. With the contractor proactively keeping costs down, they had a vested interest as it could affect the profit share.”

James Green adds: “There were cost pressures from the sub-contractor tenders due to the rising market at the time. Accordingly, each package was reviewed in detail by the team, including to consider any cost savings before proceeding. “It meant we could all work together to make sure the design pre-planning sat within the budget before being submitted for approval.”

He says that despite the open-book contract being a novel approach, it was“not particularly challenging,” adding that “it was refreshing to work in an open environ- ment without the usual confrontation.”

Setting a precedent The project is notable for a run of success, with simple, speedy planning, a straightforward and successful build, smooth tenant changeover, and both critical and communal acclaim. The scheme, which also appears to be an exemplar of open-book collaboration, was named a joint winner of the Residential-Major category of the 2016 Kent Design and Development Awards.

Providing a hub for the local community and sheltered care facilities, from bingo nights to a public salon and restaurant, the scheme is a thoughtfully-designed gift for not only its residents, but also the local area. It could even be part of a new paradigm of what supported housing can be, far from the depressing care homes of the past, and instead offering a hopeful future.


A wealth of communal features have been added to the development to promote social interaction

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