The Art of the Feasibility Study
THE BENEFITS OF A COMPREHENSIVE FEASIBILITY STUDY
THE PROCESS OF UNDERTAKING A FEASIBILITY STUDY CAN BE EXCITING AND INSPIRATIONAL- SHOWING HOW IDEAS ON PAPER CAN BE TRANSFORMED INTO REALITY AND MAXIMISING THE CHANCES OF GAINING PLANNING CONSENT
At its simplest level, a feasibility study can be used to confirm the need to construct a new building or to retain, refurbish or extend an existing one.
It should include basic information about a client’s brief – such as overall objectives, current and proposed uses, floor areas, building capacity, access routes, circulation options, programme, phasing, budget, quality or sustainability aspirations. These requirements can then be mapped onto the proposed site or existing building to help identify the possible constraints or where the opportunities for development might lie- such as the most appropriate location for a new ramp or access lift or the best site for a new building or extension.
Sketches and diagrams are often used to explore the pros of cons of various options, helping to decide what’s needed (and if it’s achievable!) and allows an outline cost plan to be developed to firm up the budget.
Where a project involves a historic building, creative thinking needs to be balanced with a curator’s sensitivity. A background in the building conservation world is very helpful in being able to define what’s important about the existing building or site and why. A historical appraisal defines in clear terms the artistic and cultural significance of the building or wider area.
At its best, a feasibility study is essentially a creative, reiterative process – balancing incisive analysis, aims, objectives, concepts, and ideas and weighing this against the potential impact of development. It can be a useful reality check, helping to decide the best way forward and maximising the chances of gaining planning consent. For instance, at the BBC’s Broadcasting House, a clear understanding of its historic significance at an early stage of the project allowed substantial alterations to the grade 2* building.
Larger projects might involve investigating possible funding options and include contributions from a quantity surveyor, specialist grant application advisor, business consultant, historian, archaeologist, planning consultant or exhibition designer.
Most importantly, it is an opportunity to bring together people and ideas to help produce a tangible vision for a project. Our experience includes carrying out feasibility studies involving remodelling and extensions to a number of Grade One listed buildings including The Bishop’s Place, Salisbury, Southall Manor, Ealing, St. Mary’s Church, Brighton, St. Peter’s Church, Tiverton, St. Aldates, Oxford and at the Middle Temple, London.