New property company will manage next university phase


Some of the plans for the university in Peterborough (Photo: Supplied)

Known as the Peterborough R&D Property Company, or ‘PropCo2’, the new company will work in conjunction with Photocentric to build a £16.47m Research and Development building on the University site.

Speaking to members of the Combined Authority Skills Committee at their online meeting (January 11), Mahmood Foroughi, SRO Higher Education, and Programme Director for the new University of Peterborough development, said: “Photocentric are the lead organisation in a partnership with the Combined Authority.

“Together we have developed a special purpose company with equity-investment coming from the government ‘Getting Building Fund’ (GBF).

“The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will provide £13.47m, with Photocentric providing another £3m.

“This gives £16.47m in total towards the development and construction of a research and development facility (Phase Two) of the University of Peterborough project.

“Once the legal documentation for PropCo2 is in place, the company will be required to enter into a contract with a commercial operator who will then manage the day-to-day delivery of the project.

“Tenders will be based on a concession contract basis, offering subsidised rental arrangements of a limited period to the chosen commercial operator.

“These tenders will be ready as soon as the legal documentation is in place.”

Cllr Eileen Wilson (LibDem, South Cambs District Council) asked: “Can you please clarify the process that led to Photocentric becoming the chosen partner with the Combined Authority for Phase Two of this project?”

John T Hill, CEO of the Combined Authority replied: “The money for this project is part of the government ‘Getting Building Fund’.

“Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP wrote to all councils in June 2020, to see if they had a ‘spade-ready’ project that could deliver green, economic recovery infrastructure and skills.

“Peterborough City Council and the Combined Authority responded by going through a process looking to see what projects we could propose for this funding.

“The Research and Development building (Phase Two) of the University of Peterborough project was put forward, and that is how the initial £13.47m GBF funding was achieved.

“However, that money – which can be viewed as the ‘allocation’ phase of the scheme – was subject to our Local Assurance Framework, and that can be viewed as the ‘application’ phase.

“With GBF allocation funds for the generic project in place, we put out a mini-call for interested organisations in our area asking who would want to partner with us to build the R&D centre?

“TWI were for a long while the lead potential applicant, and worked with us on an application; as did Photocentric.

“Applications went through the normal process of internal officer-evaluation, before being externally scrutinised by two independent evaluators to score them and finally a separate entrepreneur’s advisory panel, before coming back to the Business Board of the Combined Authority, and finally the Combined Authority Board for approval.

“From that competitive, selection process, Photocentric emerged as the preferred partner for the Phase Two project, and they have subsequently put an additional £3m into the scheme.”

Members of the Skill Committee acknowledged the report and update and looked forward to more information at their next meeting on March 15, 2021.

By Rob Alexander

Local Democracy Reporting Scheme