By Emma Quinn, Associate Project Manager, AA Projects 

As we move ever closer to creating a reality of the vision for the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease (MND) it’s worth outlining just some of the steps that must be taken. Getting a design and build project off the ground is an intricate process, like making a giant puzzle, with each step needing to be carefully considered, meticulously planned, and designed, and meeting broader approvals along the way. 

We felt that it was essential to partner with the right team to deliver this important project for the MND community and supporters of the campaign. Once the main architects are appointed, in our case Corstorphine & Wright, then a full cascade of engineers, surveyors and planners are also brought on board.

Read More: Rob Burrow Centre for MND Blog: Let's talk site and location

We asked the project team to outline some of the key phases of a new building:

Planning the Idea: The first step is to think of a great idea for the building. What will it be used for? Who will it be used by? What will it look like?

Conception and Planning: The vision is a collaborative process and in our case, this came from Rob himself and his Consultant Neurologist, Dr Agam Jung and her clinical team. What if they could create a space that supported the many dark sides of this life limiting condition – a place for care not just for the patient but for their carers and families and also for the staff working in it. What if this space could be used to bring a community of people together to support one another.

Design and Approval: A team of specialist architects, designers and engineers are brought together to work on the project once the funding is agreed. Leeds Hospitals Charity committed to £6.8m and is already more than halfway there. Together teams work on detailed aspects of the process, which at each stage much be reviewed and approved by various stakeholders, including city planners, regulatory bodies, and community members. Some of the most important stakeholders in this process are our clinical teams and the patients themselves, as they will be the main users of the centre.

Permitting and Compliance: Obtaining the necessary permits and ensuring compliance with local laws and regulations is a time-consuming but essential step to ensure the building meets safety and environmental standards. For a clinical space, extra elements need to be factored in.

Budgeting and Funding: Leeds Hospitals Charity has been fundraising for the new centre for two years. The generosity and fundraising creativity of the general public has been overwhelming and £4.9 million has now been raised. There is a £6.8 million budget which means that the project cannot go above it, and such things as delays and rising costs of materials can all be major risks on the building’s purse strings. There’s also the running and long-term costs of the centre to think about, which will fall under Leeds Teaching Hospital’s remit, whose clinical staff deliver the service to patients.

Construction: The physical construction involves coordinating with multiple contractors, managing supply chains, and keeping to timelines. Unforeseen challenges such as site conditions, materials shortages or even weather can further extend the construction period.

Read More: Sinfield set for new epic 7 in 7 in 7 challenge in support of MND community 

‘Rome wasn't built in a day’ refers to the patience required for grand projects to come to fruition and at each key stage of the building process we plan to share  a different perspective that we hope will bring you along on the journey with us. We’re incredibly fortunate to have Rob Burrow as an inspiration, he has brought Motor Neurone Disease and his journey with the illness to a new level of understanding and compassion and our hope is that we create a legacy in this building that is testament to the dedication, bravery and positivity of Rob himself.

Emma Quinn

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