Major infrastructure projects regularly take anywhere between 5 and 10 years to deliver into operation from the initial stages of outcome definition; and 20+ years for major programmes such as Crossrail, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, HS2, Hinkley Point C.

There are various useful and popular project lifecycle models, and broadly speaking all projects breakdown into the following 4 stages:

  • Problem identification, outcome definition and early feasibility
  • Single option design, consent, and land acquisition
  • Procurement, detailed design, and delivery
  • Operation and Maintenance

Ardent has a long and successful history over the last 25 years of securing consents and land for a variety of clients across a range of sectors. We frequently find that organisations across the whole project value chain, from client to sub-contractor and eventual operator, assume that land and consents acquisition is a discreet activity, with minimal interrelation to prior or future project stages. Consents, land and legal specialists are drafted in to help secure the necessary project requirements at a point and time and then released back into the marketplace.

Through our experience of supporting (an industry leading) third of all DCO applications, we’ve identified a series of common challenges with this approach across most major projects regardless of sector. These challenges include:

  • A failure to integrate land and consents delivery into wider project delivery strategy from an early stage; and failure to keep close integration all the way through to completion and operation of an asset.
  • A lack of engineering and direct construction experience among land, legal and consents professionals leading to impractical and expensive conditions, constraints and obligation placed on delivery teams; arising from consent and land acquisition processes.
  • Disconnection between consents and land activities from the wider project schedule, especially around the complex process of applying and securing a major consent such as a DCO, with consequential impacts on appropriate resourcing and management strategies.
  • A failure to appropriately consider and value interfacing risks and opportunities between design/delivery and land/consenting work streams.
  • A lack of understanding on how to appropriately incorporate consents, land and legal requirements into delivery contracts; leading to confusion for both clients and contractors alike.
  • Managing compliance with consents and land obligations throughout construction and into operation.

Viki James, Senior Director and NIPA Council Member, is a passionate advocate of applying strategic project management practice to overcome these challenges, honing the approach on a range of projects over the last 20 years. Ardent CEO Richard Caten and Viki recognised the opportunity to extend this knowledge and capability to support our clients across all projects, leading to the creation of a new Ardent Directorate, due to be launched in the coming weeks.

If you want to find out more about the solutions offered by our team and how we’re already supporting a variety of clients, look out for our full new service launch this autumn.

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