Leading construction firms selected to build new £400m science hub

Three of the UK’s leading construction companies have been chosen to deliver a new £400m science hub in Essex for Public Health England (PHE).

Kier Group, Wates Construction and VolkerFitzpatrick have been selected for four key elements of the project which includes building and refurbishing new and existing laboratories and office areas; construction of a new arrivals area and logistics centre; and site-wide infrastructure including car parking. Work on the science hub in Harlow is expected to start next month after the health agency agreed contracts with the three companies.

PHE claim that the appointment of Kier Group, Wates Construction and VolkerFitzpatrick will create will be a huge boost to employment with thousands of jobs set to be created with the campus expected to employ up to 2,750 people by 2024, with scope for further expansion.

Richard Gleave, PHE deputy chief executive, said: “PHE is delighted to have secured three of the leading construction companies in the UK to deliver what will be a world-leading national and international resource. Much of the work to create PHE Harlow is highly specialised so it’s especially pleasing to have secured three of the best companies in their fields to deliver that work. We are also delighted at the very significant opportunities that the construction of PHE Harlow will offer in the surrounding area.”

The successful companies bid for four lots: 

  • Lot 1 – new build of specialist bioscience laboratory building – Kier Group
  • Lot 2 – refurbishment of main building, including laboratories and offices – Wates Construction
  • Lot 3 – arrivals, administration and logistics buildings – Wates Construction
  • Lot 4 – site-wide infrastructure, external works and energy centre – VolkerFitzpatrick (Royal VolkerWessels)

Commenting on the appointment, Nigel Brook, Kier Group executive director, construction and infrastructure services, said: “We’re looking forward to providing a state-of-the-art facility which will help Public Health England to keep improving the nation’s health and wellbeing.”

The next steps will see the contractors working with the existing design teams and preparing the site for major construction. This is planned to start in 2019, with phased occupation starting in 2021. PHE Harlow is said to be critical to the future of the health agency, with the facility ensuring it will be able to use the latest scientific advances to deliver world-leading science and evidence for issues such as smoking, alcohol, diabetes, dementia, infectious diseases, environmental hazards and climate change nationally and internationally.

Richard Offord, managing director of VolkerFitzpatrick said: “We are delighted to be working with PHE on such a forward-thinking project. The new public health science campus will support the growth of the local area and we are looking forward to starting work on this exciting opportunity.”

Harlow is expected to be PHE's most important UK hub after it was picked out of a shortlist of ten other potential sites. Facilities from Porton in Wiltshire and Colindale in north London, as well as PHE’s central London headquarters, will be relocated to Harlow.

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