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17.07.2013, 19:00

Property Industry and Local Authorities launch new guidance on navigating the "minefield" of EU procurement red tape

Author: News Editor

Innovative guide will explain European procurement rules governing land and development deals.

The British Property Federation (BPF), Local Government Association (LGA) and Local Partnerships have joined forces to develop an innovative new guide which is designed to help readers navigate the legal maze of European procurement rules governing land and development deals.

The Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) is the tendering process required by EC Directives for public sector procurement. The regime has proved the  source of much confusion and this complex and evolving area of law is regarded by many as a real barrier to development in the UK.

The new guidance, which has been developed with input from developers, leading procurement lawyers and local authorities is designed to provide high-level guidance to both contracting authorities and developers on the strategic choices open to them and identifies the most common structures used in land developments. The guidance will officially be launched this morning at a breakfast seminar in London, hosted by law firm SJ Berwin.

Speaking ahead of the seminar Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the BPF, said: “Too many development deals are being held up by the confusion surrounding EU public procurement rules. This guidance offers practical step-by-step advice to both property developers and local authorities alike and cuts through the legalese and confusion that currently surrounds the EU public procurement regime.”

Rob Hann, Director of Legal Services at Local Partnerships, will tell delegates: "Local authorities play a crucial role in helping to fuel and maintain economic growth in their areas by providing opportunities for property and other infrastructure development. To get the best response from the market it is crucial for the processes leading to selection to be efficient and appropriate to ensure scarce resources are focused on delivery. The flow chart published today is designed as a navigational aid to help public bodies and those dealing with them to determine the most efficient and cost effective path to securing development and growth."

Fiona Beattie, Associate at law firm SJ Berwin, commented: “The public procurement rules are seen by many as a real hurdle in getting developments underway. By focusing on common industry structures, this new guide identifies key factors which influence whether an OJEU tender process is required. This gives users the option to adjust their approach at an early stage and informs them of the likely procurement law implications when making strategic decisions.”

Janet Lewis, Senior Associate at law firm Nabarro, said: “The application of publication procurement to development schemes is a legal, practical and commercial minefield.  Nabarro is pleased to have been involved in producing guidance which we hope will be enormously helpful to public authorities and developers in navigating the minefield.  What the UK market needs now is more schemes coming to fruition and fewer exploding bombs in the form of European court cases."

Rob Groves, Senior Projects Director at developer Argent, said: “Early engagement and the investment of the private sector in a public sector-promoted property development opportunity is usually a key ingredient in a successful development, but risks around the OJEU process and its uncertainty can prevent those partnerships forming. When an OJEU is required is often not clear for both the public and private sector and the chart provides clarity to the process with the various steps and helps to guide parties to the right questions.”

Rosemary Choueka, Partner at law firm Lawrence Graham, said: “The EU public procurement rules are often cited as a major obstacle to development and regeneration projects involving local authorities. The new flow chart aims to help the development community work through that obstacle, to get projects moving. It's not easy, but as we will show at the launch event, it can be done”.

A copy of the guide can be downloaded from: http://www.bpf.org.uk/en/files/bpf_documents/planning/22190_BPF_Flowchart_Landscape_AW.pdf

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