London & Quadrant Housing Trust

New Build at Darwin Green, Cambridge

The Project

Darwin Green is the development of a 51 hectare site large in north west Cambridge originally part of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB). The project includes a local centre, primary school, mixed use development with 1593 residential units of which 40% are to be affordable, a new library and health centre all designed around a large central park.

Our Role

Our first involvement was assistance in the drafting of a framework agreement with L&Q and Barratt/David Wilson and their respective legal teams. The core of this framework agreement was such that it could be the base of any scheme where Barratt/David Wilson are the developer and L&Q are the Registered Provider and therefore encompasses schemes for affordable and social rent, shared ownership, apartments and houses, in London, the Thames corridor and towards the Midlands. Within this is a stage payments matrix whereby funds are released once specific milestones have been achieved on site.

Upon agreement of the framework we were subsequently appointed as Employers Agents and Clerk of Works to value the progressing build, comment on quality and monitor progress.

The Challenges

The scheme was not within L&Q’s core geographical area of operation and additional consideration was needed with regard to sales marketing and also estate maintenance.

The Solution

We worked with L&Q in the identification of a sales unit that could be made available as early as reasonably possible in the build programme and that was readily accessible by the public. This enabled marketing to begin ahead of the delivery of the shared ownership units which helped generate early sales and associated project cashflow. L&Q elected not to maintain the estate themselves but to outsource this to an Estate Management company.

We assisted with the provision of information necessary for these enquiries to be sought and tenders invited and also in the preparation of conveyance plans which delineated responsibilities for shared ownership purchasers, the Management Company and Barratt/David Wilson in areas such as boundaries, landscape maintenance and road surfacing repairs.

The scheme has been highly successful and discussions about the sixth phase/year of works are underway.