Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet will consider the construction plans for Soot Hill and the recommendation to enter a contract with Balfour Beatty for the construction works to start in March, with a scheduled completion by December. The costs of these works are estimated at £3.5m.
A section of the highway at Soot Hill in Northwich was closed in December 2021 after a period of heavy rainfall triggered a land slip. A section of retaining wall collapsed.
Work during the past year has prepared the area for repair works to reopen the road. The site has been laser scan surveyed, the adjacent building has been propped, a section of safety barrier has been removed (which was precariously suspended above live high voltage cables). United Utilities has redirected the water main; BT have moved telephone cables and Scottish Power have diverted the live power cables. Geotechnical engineers have completed ground investigations, feasibility reports have been produced, and contractor Balfour Beatty selected.
Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member - Environment, Highways & Strategic Transport said: “I understand the huge frustration that the landslip at Soot Hill has created for residents, and we share those frustrations. I want to assure you that Council officers and specialist engineers, and our partners, have worked effectively under uniquely difficult circumstances to expedite the recovery as much as possible.
“While some of the work is not immediately apparent on site, significant progress is being made. We have today published papers for our Cabinet meeting on 8 February 2023, which represents a further important step forward.
“The repair costs are large, and we’ve been working on plans to ensure these don’t increase further, where possible this risk has been mitigated by advanced purchase of materials and site surveys. We have prioritised the Soot Hill project at the expense of many other demands on our scarce highways budget, including pot hole repairs.
“I have asked for monthly progress reports to be added to the website page that also includes a timeline for the work that has taken place.”
The timeline explaining the complex issues for repairing Soot Hill is available on the Council website:
The current programme shows anticipated completion in December 2023.
- What was the tendering process (including criteria for tender evaluation) before the contract was awarded to Balfour Beatty?
The contract was awarded via the nationally accredited SCAPE framework: https://www.scape.co.uk/for-the-public-sector that conforms with public contract regulations 2015.
- What measures of success, including outcomes, costings, payments schedules, timescales and penalties for non-delivery have been written into the contract?
Before the contract for the construction works is greed and signed, an NEC4 Project Manager will be appointed, whose first task will be to review the contract terms and agree/ amend as appropriate and manage the delivery of the project.
- Have there been any slippage of dates?
There has been no slippage the time taken has been a result of the need to follow process, secure the financing for this significant unplanned engineering scheme, and deal with unforeseen issues such as contaminated land. All information relating to this is available on our website.
- What is the value of the Balfour Beatty Contract?
The current value of the contract is £3 Million.
- What is the latest estimate of the total cost of the project?
The latest estimate for the total value of the repair is £3.5 Million.
- What reassurance can you give us that public funds are being cost effectively used?
The use of a national framework ensures that works are competitively priced and in line with the market. A value engineering exercise will also be undertaken with the contractor in the next few weeks, to review the design.
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