First PFI coalfield contracts awarded

Hammond Suddards and Eversheds are advising on the first public-private initiative on the building and management of business parks on former coalfields.

The aim is to develop up to 20 sites over three years and make them attractive to small businesses. Construction is set to begin in 2000.

Hammonds is acting for the public funding body English Partnerships, and Eversheds is representing the private partner, Langtree Group.

Eversheds is also acting for Network Space, the company that will oversee the building and management of the sites.

The initiative is part of a government drive to develop depressed areas. Hammonds says it won the work because it carried through another public-private partnership regional regeneration deal for English Partnerships in 1997. No beauty parades were held.

Ian Greenfield, corporate finance partner at Hammond Suddards, says: “This is a major step towards regenerating the English coalfields. The Government has effectively extended PFI to them.

“Hammonds and Eversheds are the only law firms involved. I can't say how much money is involved but it is a significant investment.

“English Partnerships is a long established client of the firm. The likelihood is that we will continue to advise on this for the next three years.”

Stephen Sorrell, property partner at Eversheds, says: “This is a significant project for Eversheds.”