The Journal for Executive and Governance Leaders

Case Study – Example of capital project self-delivery

In March 2016, the Trust Board of Westbourne Primary School, a two form entry academy in the London Borough of Sutton, agreed to consult on proposals to expand the school by 210 places in response to the significant need for additional primary capacity across the borough.

It was agreed by LB Sutton that funding for the proposed expansion would be provided through the LA Basic Needs Programme Fund. It was further agreed that Westbourne Primary School would draw down the capital and take responsibility for the full design and the delivery of the project.

Following a competitive tender exercise, the school commissioned Darwin Group Ltd., a specialist design and build organisation for the education sector, to prepare the feasibility study, develop detailed designs, submit all information required for a planning application and deliver the expansion scheme once planning consents had been achieved. Darwin had previously worked direct with a number of schools in Sutton as well as the LA to deliver other expansion projects, and their local experience was considered to be a significant advantage.

The commission required that the delivery of the entire design and build project was completed between May 2016 and September 2017.

An initial space audit of the entire estate was undertaken. This exercise assessed how the existing school infrastructure would cope with the additional 210 children and informed the need for the extension of key spaces, and the requirement for new buildings to provide additional classrooms and other critical resource spaces.

Given the tight timescales associated with the need to complete all construction works by August 2017, this meant that all designs needed to be developed in a 12 week period. To achieve this, a series of 6 design workshops were hosted at the school on a fortnightly basis. Stakeholders, including representatives of the school’s senior management team, Trust Board and the LA worked closely with the Darwin multi-disciplinary team to develop a solution that met all stakeholder requirements in terms of the provision of all extended and new resource spaces within the budget and programme parameters.

A comprehensive suite of surveys was undertaken during the design development process to ensure that all unique site conditions were known and factored into design decisions. This offered the school complete cost certainty prior to the planning application being submitted, which in turn significantly mitigated project risk during the construction phase.

“Westbourne Primary School and Darwin Group developed an effective and collaborative working relationship to develop designs for the extended school. The new build  project, from concept designs to the handover of the new building took just 12 months from start to finish and we are delighted with the end result.”

Westbourne Primary School

The planning application was submitted in September 2016 and consents achieved in December 2016. Having discharged a series of Planning Conditions, Darwin commenced works onsite in January 2017. The new school buildings containing 8 classrooms, shared group spaces and extended curriculum resources were completed in June 2017, a month ahead of schedule and on budget.

This allowed the school to decant into the new building early to facilitate significant remodelling and refurbishment of the existing school, including extensions to the kitchen and dining hall, all of which was completed by the end of September with little disruption to normal school operation.

The success of this project demonstrates the ability of academies to “self-deliver” critical projects and what can be achieved when public and private organisations partner in the true spirit of collaboration.

Link to 3D Walkthrough of New School Wing

Since January 2017 Darwin Group have successfully delivered more than 20 Design & Build projects from design inception through to project completion and client occupation.