Willmott Dixon seals £10.3m Birkenhead Academy deal

Aaron Morby 12 years ago
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Willmott Dixon has secured the job to revitalise Birkenhead High School Academy, delivering big savings from a mix of refurbishment and new build.

The builder starts work this month and will remodel and refurbish existing school buildings and carry out an element of new build for £10.3m.

The academy job is the latest to see a shift away from building completely new facilities towards a more cost effective mix of refurbishment and new build.

Chief executive for Willmott Dixon’s Capital Works division, John Frankiewcz, said, “While there will always be a need to create new buildings, clients are being more innovative in how they renew them and this includes mixing refurbishment with new-build to modernise and enlarge the facility.

“As local authorities reduce their budgets in light of the Comprehensive Spending Review, the project to modernise Birkenhead High School Academy for Girls could well represent the future of capital spend in education.”

He added: “We have shown recently with Macclesfield High School that taking this approach saved over £4m compared to going down a new-build route.”

In this case one third was refurbished and the remaining added as new-build, it resulted in a 22% saving against the cost of an entire new-build, a contract sum of £15m against a new-build price of £19.5m.

Birkenhead High School Academy for Girls will now benefit from a new, energy efficient school for substantially less than the cost of building a completely new facility.

Mrs Chris Mann, the new principal said “The project will enable us to continue providing an excellent all round education for girls from the area of 3-19 years of age within the glorious original buildings but with 21st century facilities.”

The project will see the nursery, infant and junior school modernised and linked together by a new light and airy three-storey building. This will provide new library and ICT facilities and an assembly hall alongside additional classrooms.

The adjacent secondary school will benefit from the old school hall, built in the 1960’s, being replaced by a multi functional central space which will offer a theatre, dining room, study areas and a café alongside a new hall. Other buildings on site will be retained but remodelled and refurbished to match the new facilities.

The landscaping across the whole site will also be improved and enhanced to include an amphitheatre, Arts terrace and extra sports facilities.

Another benefit will be increased thermal performance of the buildings, which will reduce their carbon emissions, and Willmott Dixon plan to analyse the improvements with a ‘before and after’ assessment.

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