Sweett on campus

David Keith from the Sweett Group talked to University Business about the group’s expertise and current projects in education

Sweett Group is an independent, global business with expertise in property and infrastructure professional services. It offers clients expertise in cost management, programme and project management, PPP/PFI and a host of specialist advisory services including estate strategy, sustainability, capital allowances, procurement consultancy, building surveying and CDM co-ordinator services.

Sweett Group is one of the world’s leading cost management consultancies and has been delivering high quality cost advice and management for over 85 years. Over the last three years, it successfully positioned itself as a consultancy of choice by working for 75% of the UK’s leading universities.

The Sweett Group professional team helps its university clients to deliver high quality sustainable buildings and to effectively optimise space across their estates helping to achieve competitive advantage across the globe.

Where are your areas of expertise and current projects?

Sweett Group is currently working on over 50 live university projects across its 22 offices in the UK. Recently announced was their appointment to provide cost management services on the £200m new engineering campus development for the University of Manchester. They are also delivering a variety of projects at Liverpool John Moore’s, Liverpool, Bradford, Leeds and Cumbria. Sweett Group’s Midlands offices are working on a number of projects at Warwick, Birmingham, Aston, Loughborough and Oxford Brookes universities.

In London and the South East, Sweett Group is working with the University of Cambridge (since 2006) project and cost managing both new build and refurbishment projects. In 2012 they became a preferred supplier on the University College London framework and are currently undertaking a number of projects with this client. Other universities include Queen Mary, University of London, City University London, Imperial West, London South Bank, Imperial College London and Westminster.

In the South West they are currently undertaking a variety of projects for the University of Bristol. Most notable is the National Composite Centre which will bring together dynamic companies and enterprising academics to develop new technologies. Other projects currently being undertaken is for Bath Spa University and University of West of England.

Sweett’s Group Scottish offices are renowned for their expertise in this sector, having worked with the University of Edinburgh for over 14 years, and recently completing Phase 1 of the Garthdee Campus in Aberdeen. Other projects include Sighthill Campus and Merchiston Campus for Edinburgh Napier University and a number of projects for Glasgow Caledonian University and University of Glasgow.

Established in 1928, the company has grown through strategic development into a top 10 consultancy employing over 1,500 professionals in 55 countries worldwide.


How have you assisted universities?

The University sector is a key market for Sweett Group. We have a number of long standing Higher Education clients and our appointment on a number of key Consultant frameworks within the sector has contributed to successful project and programme outcomes and the delivery of significant improvements in value for money for our Clients.

Sweett Group has assisted Universities in getting the most out of their Estates in the following ways:

  •  Through our involvement with key University Clients, we have been able to aid their decision making processes by providing robust early cost advice to inform strategic decisions.      
  •  We have undertaken commissions for Universities which include analysing their existing Estates to assess future building maintenance and revenue costs. This has led to formal cost benefit analysis studies of refurbishment against new build.
  •  We recognise that at times short call-off is required and that speed of response and a flexible approach is critical.
  •  We have built up a comprehensive database of cost information for various academic and support functions which enables us to inform early budget setting.
  •  With many Universities, we have been able to standardise documents and procedures to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of our service.
  •  We have completed studies which consider the efficiency of a University’s Estate in terms of energy which has informed future capital investment and facilitated quick wins.
  •  We have been involved with a number of PPPs within the sector providing alternative funding solutions.


A case in point

Sweett Group has worked with Middlesex University continuously since 2006, on over 40 individual projects across its estate. We were reappointed to their Consultant’s framework in 2012 as sole cost consultant to undertake all of their works over a period of five years.

We have provided all cost consultancy services in connection with the completed Phases 2 to 5 of the Hendon Campus redevelopment and are currently providing cost consultancy services in respect of their recently approved London Estates Strategy.

Total investment to date amounts to over £200m. The University made a strategic decision to consolidate its campuses and operations and high level meetings were held at which all potential sources of development were identified at the University’s Hendon campus.

High level cost planning was completed based upon notional areas of development, the completion of which allowed the University to consider the relative merits of each development from a planning and cost basis to shape the overall campus estate strategy.

With an agreed Estate Strategy in place the University was able to group development works into phases to meet specific demands in terms of business planning and funding. Each individual phase was then subjected to rigorous review in terms of space rationalisation, sequencing, design concept and affordability.

During the development of each phase delivery requirements have changed which has involved a review of the overall Estate Strategy which in particular has impacted upon site infrastructure, phasing and ancillary works such as landscaping. Our knowledge and understanding of the campus and the University’s overarching business objectives has ensured that value for money has been achieved in terms of time, cost and quality.

A significant project was the new build art, design and media building based at the University’s Hendon Campus with facilities to support courses in art, fashion, film, design, television production and photography. 

Greater London Authority regard the building, which has been named ‘The Grove’, of ‘world class design’. The centrepiece of the building is an atrium – a huge public space, flooded with natural light which acts as a social hub and an exhibition space.  The building incorporates a TV production suite with two TV studios; a dimmer room, sound, lighting and production galleries are able to run either or both studios with cameras being deployed to either. 

Other specialist facilities include 3D workshops, ceramics workshops, black and white darkrooms, digital darkroom, digital media workshop. Also included is an art and design learning resource centre, photographic studio, print workshop, reprographics and digital output room, jewellery and small metals workshop, dedicated fashion and textiles workshops. The Design Stage Bespoke BREEAM assessment for the building scored just over 76%, maintained during the Construction Stage so that an Excellent rating has been achieved. This is an impressive outcome given the challenging nature of the site and the need to, for example, seal parts of the building, given its adjacency to a major road.

Sweett Group was appointed to undertake full cost consultancy services from inception to completion together with Employer’s Agent and Client technical sustainability advice.


David Keith has over 15 year’s experience providing cost consultancy services on a number of large complex projects in the Higher Education sector. He is the framework director for a number of high profile Universities including University College London, Middlesex University and Imperial College London.


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