21 Aug 2018

Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has advised Durham University on its procurement of a private sector consortium to design, build, finance and operate (DBFO) two new college facilities and wider communal facilities at Mount Oswald, just to the south of Durham city. The capital value of the project is in excess of £80m.

The university plans to relocate John Snow College to one of the new buildings, and also to launch a brand new college on the site, making it the 17th college within the university. Together, the two facilities will provide 1,000 student bed spaces, common rooms, communal areas and administrative space. A new multi-use games area and hub building will also be constructed, providing sports facilities as well as a large multi-purpose space for events and dining.

The university's private sector partners for the project are Campus Living Villages (who are also the facilities management provider) and Equitix, with Interserve Construction carrying out the building works, and project finance being provided by Assured Guaranty. The university is a financial partner in the project and WBD also advised the University's new subsidiary company, Durham Mount Oswald Limited, on the transaction.

A multi-disciplinary WBD team advised the University from the pre-procurement stages, through the competitive tender process, and through to financial close. The firm's multi-disciplinary team was led by Iain Greenshields, Partner in Projects & Procurement, and supported by: Neil Walker (Legal Director), Emma Luscombe (Associate), Ian Ward (Partner) and Peter Cantwell (Associate) who provided property support, and with specialist corporate and banking support provided by Iain Pritty (Legal Director) and Viktor Osasu (Associate).

Iain Greenshields, comments:

"This is another project in which WBD are proud to have worked on, to support a major local educational institution based in the North East. Durham University is a longstanding client of the firm and we are delighted that our team were able to assist them with this complex DBFO project for the development of two new colleges which support its wider university strategy for development and growth. Understanding the priorities and operational nuances of a collegiate university and applying the DBFO model to this was a key factor in the success of this project. This is one of many examples which demonstrates our commitment to the local community as this development will provide accommodation for local, international  and students from across the UK, to live and study at a world-renowned university based in the region."

Tess Mantzoros, Head of Legal Services at Durham University, comments:

"As always, it has been a pleasure working with Iain and the Projects team at WBD to provide our legal support to the development of the two new college facilities. Their assistance has taken us right through the procurement process and enabled us to complete the contractual arrangements which will lead to the development of the new site. This will help us ensure we continue to meet the demand for the highest quality accommodation for our growing student population which is a key part of our wider strategy. We have longstanding relationship with WBD as a provider of legal services and were very pleased with the advice and support they provided to the University on this challenging project."

WBD has significant experience of advising a range of educational institutions, and other organisations in the wider public and third sector on complex DBFO and public-private partnership arrangements across many sectors. The firm has extensive experience in understanding the requirements of working in the public arena with a strong focus on driving best value for the public purse.