New tenants to move into £32 million health centre 12 September 2012

The first tenants at an exemplar £32 million new health centre in Birkenhead are in the process of moving in following the completion of the first stage of construction. The milestone means the new facility will be 75% occupied nearly a year before site completion, which is due in 2013.

St Catherine’s Health Centre is a visionary, four storey 11,100 sqm new facility built on the
historic eight-acre site of the original St Catherine’s Hospital in Wirral. The result of an innovative partnership between the NHS, Prime plc, IHP (Vinci Construction UK) and One Creative Environments Ltd, the new centre transforms an existing NHS site, creating a major new facility for health and wider care services for the residents of Birkenhead.

The project has already received extensive recognition as an “exemplar” project in public sector procurement. Devised by Prime plc and NHS Wirral, St Catherine’s is one of the largest NHS facilities ever procured using a property lease structure as opposed to a PFI contract. The approach, which is more common in other areas of commercial property, heralds the way to increasing opportunities for the property industry as the Government looks for alternatives to PFI.

Due to careful site planning, existing services at St Catherine’s stayed operational throughout, with many housed in existing buildings on site.Now the new health centre is complete it provides accommodation for its new tenants NHS Wirral, who will occupy the building under a long term FRI (full repairing and insuring) lease, two GP practices, Wirral Community NHS Trust and a pharmacy.

The contractor, Integrated Health Projects, is now progressing with phase two of the construction, which involves the demolition of remaining buildings, the creation of new public spaces and additional car parking, to complete the regeneration of this historic site.

Leighton Chumbley, Group Chief Operating Officer for Prime plc, comments: “Th adoption of a new model of funding illustrates the increasingly dynamic nature of the healthcare property sector and the continued investor appetite for secure government-backed leases.

“A freedom from established ways of thinking and a new model of ownership meant we were able to get the project on site in December 2009 at what was widely considered a tough time for funding new developments.”

Designed by healthcare specialists, One Creative Environments Ltd, the centre comprises five individual wings linked together by an internal street which joins all the clinical areas into a single entity. The development takes its name from the existing Grade II listed St Catherine’s Church, which has been revived as a central feature for the site, leading the new healthcare building to naturally curve around the church, earning it the affectionate name of ‘The Smile’.

Completion of St Catherine’s Health Centre is expected in the first half of 2013.

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