Firuz Ali and Lesley Steele on Community Asset Transfer in Birmingham

Firuz Ali of Urban Design at Birmingham City Council and Lesley Steele of the council run Birmingham Property Services talk about their involvement in the Community Asset Transfer Development Programme in Birmingham:

Firuz and Lesley reflect on their roles as project managers of the Norton Hall and Perry Common projects respectively. They describe how this differed from more usual projects and share their thoughts on the complexities to be aware of, lessons to take away and the positive outcomes of both projects.

What stood out in these Community Asset Transfer Projects?

  • Due to the nature of the project, the clients were deeply involved in all stages of the project from funding to completion
  • With the addition of other parties (such as funding partners) there was more work and more layers of communication necessary
  • Each party had different constraints and agendas in terms of their way of working which added complexity

What were the main lessons that were learned?

  • Timeframe – The biggest pressure was meeting deadlines for funding and approval with the involvement of funding bodies and the Local Authority. The programme should reflect the demands of communication between all parties
  • For future projects ensure you have enough time. Look at the spend deadline for your funding and work backwards in order to satisfy  necessary council and grant provider approval processes
  • Expectations – the clients were frustrated with some of the high level fees that result from commercial construction projects in contrast to domestic projects
  • Care should be taken to explain and understand how the costs are made up so that all parties are satisfied and able to make their own assessment of value

Achievements – what are they most pleased about?

  • Both projects have achieved a  great facility in areas that really need them
  • Good working relationships have been developed; the project teams have good rapport with structures to ensure queries are answered and concerns are met

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