‘Fantastic’ opportunities for firms as Suffolk bridge project begins

CGI of Lowestoft's Gull Wing bridge due to be built by Farrans Construction

A CGI of the Gull Wing bridge at Lowestoft, work on which is due to begin in spring 2021 - Credit: Suffolk County Council

East of England companies are lining up to play a part in the one of the region’s biggest infrastructure projects as developers gear up to start work this spring.

Nearly 300 businesses took part in a ‘meet the buyer’ webinar looking at the local commercial opportunities on offer as building work on a £126.75m Lowestoft bridge gets under way.

UK and Ireland-based Farrans Construction has been chosen to build the Gull Wing — the town’s third crossing over Lake Lothing — and has committed to using firms with the necessary expertise from within a 70-mile radius of the site “wherever possible”. The bridge is expected to be open by the summer of 2023.

The company — which has a regional base at Royston in Cambridgeshire — established a permanent office in the East of England in 1949. It has completed more than 250 projects in the region over the last three decades through its building and civil engineering divisions.

Delegates at the webinar event — organised by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Suffolk County Council and by Farrans — were told about timescales for the project, how it will be managed and how they can be best prepared to bid for contracts. Waveney MP Peter Aldous, county council leader Matthew Hicks, Simon Bretherton, the Gull Wing’s project director, and Neil Rogers, Farrans’ project director spoke to the gathering, which included a question-and-answer session.

Mr Rogers said he was “really encouraged” by the large number and variety of local businesses who attended. 

“We’re looking forward to working with as many as we can throughout the Gull Wing project,” he said. “Our aim was to meet local businesses from Lowestoft and the local area to help Farrans establish long-term supply chain business relationships — something which is inherent to the core values of our business. Large construction projects like the Gull Wing give fantastic opportunities for local firms to showcase their specialist trades.”

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Mr Aldous said he was “delighted” to see so many recognisable, local names and businesses show an interest in helping deliver the Gull Wing. “With this project, alongside the government’s commitment to levelling up across the country, it really feels like a positive time for our local economy. Events like these also demonstrate the wide range of benefits that the Gull Wing will bring to the area and local people, beyond just the physical bridge itself.”

Suffolk Chamber chief executive John Dugmore said it was an “exciting and important” project providing a local economic uplift from its construction.

“Farrans’ keenness to work with Suffolk Chamber and local and regional businesses is exemplary. Thank you to them for their commitment to do the best for the local economy,” he said.
Mr Hicks said it was a “positive start” to the Gull Wing story with so many local firms interested in playing a part in the success of a “nationally significant infrastructure project”.

“They are evidence of all the additional benefits that the Gull Wing will bring to the local area, particularly as we look to begin the recovery out of Covid-19 and creating business opportunities to support our local economy.”

A follow-up event is planned for the spring. Local companies can still express their interest in becoming a supplier and bid to be part of the project supply chain. Visit www.farrans.com/suppliers, email info@gullwingbridge.co.uk or call Farrans on 01502 512779.