Leeds firm Walker Morris recently advised the consortium selected as the preferred bidder in a multimillion-pound municipal leisure PFI
The project, which enables a major refurbishment of the Lord Butler Fitness and Leisure Centre at Saffron Walden in Essex and the building of two new leisure centres at schools in Great Dunmow and Stansted, is likely to cost around £10.5m, with construction work commencing this summer. The project is believed to be the first leisure PFI project involving the provision of dual-use facilities on school sites, relying on public use of the facilities to make the scheme viable. Walker Morris acted for PFI provider Linteum Leisure Consortium, whose partnership with Uttlesford District Council is contracted for 32 years with a total contract value of £100m. Walker Morris head of public sector and PFI David Kilduff, who led the team, said: "It's groundbreaking in many ways. Linteum successfully introduced a not-for-profit company into a PFI structure with a leisure management contractor solely reliant on the income from paying customers at the centres. The model is one that could be replicated elsewhere to secure major investment in new leisure facilities." He was assisted on the project by associates Richard Auton, Neil Tindall and Ben Sheppard from the public sector and PFI group, Ian Akitt from banking and project finance, Jayne Richards from property, Emma Marsden from corporate and Steve Bate from construction. Private sector funding is being provided by Dutch-based NIB Capital Bank, advised by Weil Gotshal & Manges. Devonshires Solicitors advised the district council and Eversheds advised the Uttlesford Leisure Trust.