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Reflecting on the North Campus relocation project

26 Apr 2023

Sandra Crosbie, Senior Faculty Change Manager, looks back on delivering one of the largest change projects ever undertaken by our University

From the announcement of Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) in 2012 to final laboratory moves taking place this Summer, the road to relocating from North Campus has been complex. When celebrating the move, conversation often turns to the extensive design and construction work, which made the size and scale of the buildings a reality, but of equal importance were the efforts of our Moves Team and Faculty Estates colleagues behind the scenes in co-ordinating what would be the largest move of people and equipment ever undertaken in the sector.

As the Moves Team prepare to relocate the final laboratory into Engineering Buildings A & B and complete the clearance of North Campus, Dr Sandra Crosbie, Senior Faculty Project Manager, reflects on delivering a once-in-a-lifetime project and how her team were able to overcome some challenges along the way.

“The University had never undertaken a relocation project of this scale and complexity before, so there was no rule book or case studies in how to plan and co-ordinate this move… for many aspects we literally started with a blank sheet of paper and went from there. As the project progressed, this ended up being a testament to the strength of the team, as we were able to continuously identify any new issues or gaps and fine tune our processes as we went along”.

Delivery of the move and clearance programme was split up into three main sub-projects, all running parallel to one another – the relocation of over 2,000 colleagues and PGRs into workspace; the decommissioning, transportation and recommissioning of 72 technical groups consisting of ~250 North campus laboratories, alongside tens of thousands of items and equipment; as well as the clearance and closure of thousands of rooms and spaces across North Campus.

“On paper, it might sound as simple as moving a group of staff and pieces of equipment from A to B, but it was hugely complex. Not only was the move a significant cultural change for our staff and students, but the equipment we were transporting was incredibly specialist and some of the buildings we were clearing out had hundreds of years’ worth of history inside.”

“Once we’d mapped out the project, delivery wasn’t without its challenges. After months of work pulling together a 24-week people move schedule, supply chain issues meant we had to return to the drawing board and create a tighter 17-week schedule to be able to relocate everybody before the new academic year. I’m immensely proud of the entire team in coming together to make this happen”.

With the final laboratory move on the horizon and preparations underway to handover the remaining North Campus buildings to our Joint Venture Partner delivering ID Manchester, Sandra feels proud of the work of the team over the last few years and the footprint they’re about to leave behind.

“We couldn’t have made this project a success without the work of everybody in the team - from those co-ordinating the various workstreams and operations, to the Move Assistants on the ground providing packing and clearance support. I hope everybody in the team is able to appreciate the amazing legacy we’ve already left behind with Engineering Buildings A & B - that’s only going to grow in the years to come as ID Manchester starts to take shape”

You can hear more from Sandra and her team reflecting on making the move happen in the video below.