The Equalities & Human Rights Commission, Manchester

Employer’s Agent / Premises Advisor

act3 were appointed to the role of Employer’s Agent following a tender and interview process in accord with Government guidelines by the EHRC procurement officer, and were able to immediately offer advice regarding the proposed procurement route for the contract, lease conditions with the landlord and legal representatives, and related ongoing liabilities.

EHRC had been occupying 40,000 sqft over four floors of the Arndale Tower, however a proposed restructuring of the whole organisation would reduce the overall number of staff members to 250, and a rationalisation of space requirements would limit available space to two floors only. It was proposed to relocate all current staff to two of these floors temporarily, while the other two floors would be the subject of a strip-out and refurbishment project which, upon completion the organisation would re-occupy, surrendering the vacated floors to the landlord.

One of the complications to the proposed scheme was the presence of a major Data Room connecting all of the regional offices, with distribution cables feeding through all four of the occupied floors which would require tracing and protecting for the duration of the project, while the Data Room itself required protecting by encasing in impact resistant partitioning, and all connected services maintaining for the duration of the works. In addition there were several satellite patch rooms which would need relocating to positions convenient to the new layouts, requiring carefully planned sequencing.

Another aspect would be a higher than usual attention to elements of DDA, a critically observed piece of legislation at EHRC, with provisions already established at levels exceeding both Building Control Part M and BS 8300, the floor layouts took account of increased provision of disability wc’s, and provided for extensive wheelchair access, and consideration of colour and contrast in partition and finishes design.

Budgetary control was a major factor in implementing the £1.3m project, and aspirations were constantly challenged in relation to value, with many desired elements having to be forgone, including several ‘green’ aspects of specification which had higher capital cost attached than the payback would justify over the term of the lease. Nevertheless, a range of measures reflecting EHRC’s desire to include sustainable design were factored into the scheme, such as; re-cycled and re-cyclable flooring, motion detection controls to lighting, and solar shading film and blinds.

With EHRC reviewing their national Facilities Management contract, there was a requirement for the Principal Contractor to assume control and responsibility for a range of issues which would usually be under direct order by the Client, such as CCTV, A/V, door access and security control, and extensive liaison would be required to co-ordinate their maintaining during the temporary occupation, and removal and re-installation prior to final re-occupation.

Re-occupation would be planned on a sequenced basis, with existing furniture being brought from storage and Departmental areas set out with re-installed and tested IT and technology, ready for staff to walk into, with only personal items and minimal filing to be moved on the day.