Collaboration is the key to successful private sector partnerships

27.02.24 6 min read by Simon Hourihan

In Manchester, we’ve worked alongside Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC) to deliver New Victoria – a £130 million build-to-rent living space which has seen the creation of 520 new homes and ground floor retail over two buildings.

Alongside this, New Victoria delivers some of the best amenity space in the region, including a state-of-the-art gym, communal lounges, co-working space, cinema room, and rooftop/podium gardens.

Sharing values and vision

From the outset, we knew that re-purposing an underutilised complex brownfield site into a residential community – facilitated by the largest build-to-rent funding of a project outside of London – would require a strong, open, and transparent working relationship underpinned by stringent planning and a shared ethos.

Fortunately, from approaches to risk management and the quality of the supply chain, to core values and procurement, our aspirations truly aligned with PIC’s from day one. Sharing values and beliefs creates a platform for success from the outset of a scheme.

Because of that there was an unprecedented amount of due diligence carried out with PIC pre-contract, with both parties working collaboratively up to contract award and execution of the funding agreement.  No stone was left unturned as part of a very detail design review.

The outcome of our comprehensive preparation meant that once we entered into a contract to deliver the scheme, our partner contractor VINCI knew the detail inside and out from the very first day they put a spade in the ground. As a result the scheme was delivered to a really high standard

Sam Winnard, Build to Rent Operations Head at PIC, has outlined:

We couldn’t have really asked for a higher standard. We’re really impressed with how the scheme looks and how it was delivered early and on budget. Muse exceeded all of our expectations.”
New Victoria

Overcoming challenges

Delivering a multi-million pound scheme of this complexity provides a unique set of challenges, with each project featuring its own intricacies and obstacles that require robust and carefully thought-out solutions.

Not only is New Victoria located on a key gateway into the heart of Manchester on a heavily constrained site, it is positioned above a large Victorian brick-arched culvert for the River Irk. The construction works were also directly adjacent to the live mainline Victoria Station and Cheetham Hill Bridge, and had to incorporate multi £M services diversion to the perimeter of the site.

PIC saw an opportunity to enhance the scheme further too, through a multi £M link bridge variation which was introduced during the construction phase.

As with all our projects, Muse co-operated extensively with partners to ensure all aspects of the development were analysed and reviewed on a granular level prior to commencement of the works, and including what became know as “the Link Bridge variation”

This ensured the project was significantly de-risked for all stakeholders, while quarterly contractor principle meetings helped to establish true collaboration at every step.

It was a process that PIC benefitted from, particularly in relation to the finished product.

“There have been a number of challenges at New Victoria like with any scheme, however when these challenges came along, Muse were fantastic. We worked together and found great solutions. When we look around and see the finish of the scheme, hear the feedback from residents and even third parties, they see it as an unbelievable scheme unlike anything they’ve seen before.” Sam Winnard, Build to Rent Operations Head, PIC.

Delivering transformative places that benefit people and the communities where they live, work, and play is only possible through exemplary project management and the partnerships that are formed at the very heart of the teams overseeing design and delivery. This is a mantra Muse follows wherever we’re creating spaces for people to connect and flourish.

In it for the long-term

Delivering schemes of the highest quality, on-time and on-budget, is fundamental to our work.

We also know that creating longstanding relationships is a critical element of placemaking and regeneration. This enables us to deliver projects that create brighter, better places for communities across the country.

New Victoria, which was delivered six months earlier than the original completion date and within budget, represented a true partnership between Muse, PIC and VINCI, with all parties extremely proud of creating a landmark development which makes a positive contribution to the city’s housing supply, as well as leaving a long-lasting legacy for the region.

Both of these factors – true collaboration and the positive wider impact the development has had – have been referenced by PIC following completion of the scheme. Sam outlined;

Muse understood from the get-go that we were long term investors and fully took on board what our vision is and what our objectives are. We’ve really enjoyed working with Muse, and it’s been a really successful collaboration. Having a trusted private sector partner who understands our vision is really important.”

“There’s social value that’s being created already, too. We’ve got residents who are donating to charity and supporting local businesses and it’s having a real positive impact on the wider Manchester society,” he added.

On the back of this, we’re already talking to PIC about future opportunities and we’ve also strengthened our relationship with VINCI on one of the most technically demanding schemes we’ve ever delivered.. It’s put us in a really good place to work with those two corporations again on future projects of this kind of scale and value.

Through the delivery of New Victoria, partners have worked together to ensure that we not only created high quality homes and a sustainable community, but left a lasting legacy of social, economic, and environmental improvements.

When collaboration, effective communication and an alignment of values come together, projects have the foundation to succeed from the beginning, which is paramount to delivering lasting, impactful change.

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