Case Study – Managing Coventry and Warwickshire’s Growth Deal

Tuesday 9th of August 2016 12:53 PM

The Coventry and Warwickshire LEP, working in close partnership with key stakeholders, is tasked with driving the economic growth of Coventry and Warwickshire.

The government has awarded the LEP £88.6m to enable the delivery of key projects that have been identified to stimulate growth, develop partnerships with industry, and create opportunities and jobs. Significant projects include:

  • Coventry – improvements and expansion to Coventry Rail Station
  • Kenilworth Railway Station – the development of a new railway station
  • Warwickshire College Trident Apprenticeship Centre
  • Stratford-on-Avon Start-up Hub
  • City College Advice Centre
  • National Transport Design Centre (NTDC)

Actively managing the programme

Recognising the need to drive the delivery of key projects the LEP Board took the decision to establish the Growth Deal Sub-Committee. The committee, chaired by LEP chairman Jonathan Browning, meets regularly and reviews the progress of each project in detail.  It focuses on managing projects to successful completion, identifying corrective action as required to ensure delivery and fulfilling target outputs such as jobs, new housing and new transport infrastructure.

When first constituted, the Sub-Committee identified that the 2015/16 programme was forecasting underspend of £5.8m due to a range of factors including delayed starts and land ownership issues.

One of the first decisions made was to re-profile one of the major projects to bring it forward for full spend in 2015/16 immediately reducing underspend by £3m. The remaining underspend was managed through a combination of reconfiguring projects and a process of corrective action and deadlines for completing.

The combination of actions resulted in the 2015/16 exceeding its target by £83,000 whilst maintaining focus on the delivery of agreed outputs.

National Transport Design Centre - an example of project management best practice

This case study outlines what can be achieved through cross-organisation collaboration to successfully put a problem project on the road to success.

About NTDC

The Coventry University NTDC will be located on Coventry University Technology Park and will create a state-of-the-art international centre of design excellence for innovation and research.

It will develop the specialist designers, creative leaders and new products needed for business growth in the UK High-Value Manufacturing sector. Over the five years to 2021/22 the project will create 115 jobs and support 253 businesses.

The CWLEP, through the Growth Deal, is contributing an initial £7 million to make the project possible.  

The plan

The original plan was for Coventry University to locate its new facility on an alternative site. However, in early discussions with the University it was identified that land issues beyond its control meant this was not a viable option.

Rather than letting this become a major obstacle to the project, the Growth Deal Sub-Committee adopted a flexible approach and encouraged the University to look for alternative locations. A number of sites were considered before the Coventry University Technology Park was selected.

Given that identified site was very different to the original, the University was allowed to re-configure and redesign the project to make it work at the new location. Given the nature of the changes the project was subsequently re-assessed and reapproved by the main LEP Board.

The Growth Deal Sub-committee played a pivotal role in supporting the University to finalise the revised NTDC plans.

Andy Williams, senior LEP executive, said: “The NTDC project is a perfect example of the effectiveness of what can be achieved through early engagement from all parties.

“By bringing everyone into conversations, early significant challenges were able to be overcome, where in other circumstances or geographical areas the project may not have progressed on target, on budget, or even at all.

“The close collaboration by all parties involved, enabled us to sit down together and work through issues and come up with a flexible outcome.

“The LEP instigating a flexible sub-committee, with two directors involved, has enabled us to engage in some of the regular decision-making which is more frequent than board level and has proved to be extremely beneficial.”

The results

The NTDC secured planning permission in March 2016, and is presently on site.  Major equipment has been ordered and the building is scheduled to achieve practical completion in February 2017 with occupation in May 2017.

Lucy McGovern, LEP Programme Development Manager, said: “The new centre will enable Coventry University to work with small and large businesses to bring the next generation of engineers forward, at a step change, and support the UK’s urgent demand for creative roles.

“The evolution of the project, within tight time scales, is testament to what can be achieved through close collaboration and openness between all parties involved.”

Clive Winters, project lead from Coventry University, said the importance of regular dialogue cannot be underestimated.

“The relationship between Coventry University, Coventry City Council, and the CWLEP was already strong before we commenced this project and certainly played an important part in us working together to overcome significant challenges,” he said.

“The co-operation and close dialogue through every stage of the planning process has been crucial and will result in us creating a centre which will meet an important demand for specialised skills in the transport sector.”

Category: Funding