Leeds City Council has used NEC contracts to deliver the UK’s first fully solar-powered park-and-ride facility. The innovative 1200-space Stourton Park and Ride site next to the M621 motorway 6 km southwest of the city centre was successfully delivered to the agreed revised programme and below budget in September 2021.
Construction of the £39 million project was initially let to Bam Nuttall in August 2018 using an NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) Option C (target contract with activity schedule), which was later converted to an NEC3 ECC Option A (priced contract with activity schedule). The contractor engaged designer Mott MacDonald using an NEC3 Professional Services Contract (PSC).
Solar panels on top of the car park canopies occupy nearly a third of the 1.5 ha site and generate 1.1 MW of electricity. This is more than sufficient to meet the power needs of the green-roofed terminus building, external lighting, closed-circuit television systems and 30 electric vehicle charging bays.
Programme executive manager Sabby Khaira says, ‘We have also future-proofed a further 84 parking bays with enabling ducts for charging. The project’s other green credentials include the planting of over 12,000 trees and shrubs and implementation of a sustainable drainage system with permeable paving and integrated attenuation.’
He says the scheme involved substantial off-site highways works. ‘Over 14,100 m2 of new carriageway area was constructed, including new bus lanes and capacity and safety improvements to the existing M621 junction 7 slip roads, together with smart traffic signal technology at junctions and bus gateways.’
Experienced NEC user
Project manager John White says the design and construction were procured using NEC contracts as the Council was an experienced user. ‘NEC contracts have worked successfully for us in delivery of previous projects. Given the challenging funding window for the Stourton scheme, and since delivery of a quality project on time was crucial, we weighted design and construction tenders 70% on quality and 30% on price to ensure the appointed delivery partners met with our expectations.’
He says the construction works were initially let under ECC Option C. ‘The pain/gain share was set to limit our exposure to 50% of the contractor’s cost overruns up to 5% of the target cost. This was felt necessary given the timescales we were working to and the level of scheme development at that stage.’
However, as the work progressed, the contract was subsequently changed from Option C to Option A. ‘This was for various reasons,’ says White. ‘First there was an immediate, tangible cost reduction by a limiting the unnecessarily high level of programming. Second was a significant reduction in our risk profile by a recognition that our delivery partners were better placed to manage many of risks that had previously resided with us.’
He says the switch also improved cost certainty. ‘It contained any increase in the delivery partners’ defined costs, which would have eroded forecasts of our gain share or increased our pain share. It also reduced the scope of our contract administration activities.’
White says all NEC contracts worked well in practice. ‘The NEC requirement to act in a “spirit of mutual trust and co-operation” was key to the collaborative delivery model we developed. Working with two different delivery partners meant consistency in information and contract management was vital. Use of CEMAR contract management software and a common data environment aided this significantly.’
He says converting from Option C to A had a significant positive impact on the commercial and contract administration of the programme. ‘In particular it simplified the payment and compensation event processes, which on multiple activities presented a significant resourcing constraint on all parties working on the contract.’
The Stourton Park and Ride project was completed on programme and £1.4 million under the initial target cost in September 2021. It went on to win several awards including Transport Project of the Year in the 2022 British Construction Industry Awards and the Major Project Award in the 2022 Highways UK Excellence Awards.
Benefits of using NEC
NEC successfully delivered an innovative and award-winning project on time and £1.4 million under budget.
NEC contracts were familiar to the client and enabled both the design and construction delivery partners to be engaged on consistent contract terms.
NEC requirement on both delivery partners to act in a “spirit of mutual trust and co-operation” was key to developing a collaborative delivery model, with consistency in information and contract management across design and construction.
NEC flexibility enabled the payment option to be changed from target cost to fixed price during construction, benefitting all parties and the project overall.