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Headteacher Paul Betteridge outside Wordsworth Primary School, Southampton

Southampton saves money with Sunesis

Southampton saves its council taxpayers 40% of costs on its new school buildings thanks to Scape’s innovative Sunesis system

Posted by Dave Higgitt | June 16, 2014 | Bricks & mortar

Speed and affordability were crucial factors for Southampton City Council when it considered how to meet a rapidly growing demand for primary school places.

The solution to both requirements came in the form of Scape, a local authority controlled specialist procurement and construction company, and its Sunesis system – a joint venture with contractor Willmott Dixon.

The end result is to have three primary schools, now completed and open for teaching and learning, delivered at considerably lower cost and in half the time compared to traditional methods for delivering similar projects.

Oliver Gill, strategy and capital programme manager at Southampton City Council, said: “The new build schools have been built at approximately 60 per cent of the cost of our most recently built equivalent facilities.

“The projects have been delivered to a significantly accelerated timescale relative to the council’s typical experience. After signing up it took just 18 months from project inception to project completion.

“Via a traditional procurement/design/build route this would be in the region of 36 months plus.”

Southampton City Council needed to make significant improvements to its primary school facilities to meet the needs of a rapidly increasing pupil cohort.

The £13m project with Scape has seen the delivery of the new three-form entry Wordsworth Primary School, new two-form entry Banister Primary School and a one-form entry extension to Moorlands Primary School.

It has created 900 additional primary school places across the three schools – 240 extra at Banister, 210 at Moorlands and 450 at Wordsworth, increasing the total combined pupil places from 570 to 1470.

All projects were undertaken on the existing school sites while keeping disruption to a minimum.

An additional benefit for the local area was the opportunities provided by the employment and skills plan which ran across the three schemes with Willmott Dixon providing three apprenticeships, seven work experience placements, four schools curriculum site visits and four workshops with the area’s young people.

By choosing Sunesis for its new schools, Southampton City Council had a guarantee that they would be delivered on time, on budget and with significant savings.

One design team was employed across all three Southampton projects and the standardised approach has maximised efficiency. Using the Sunesis design as a template across all three sites saved the council 39% on market alternatives.

Work on the projects could also start immediately, thanks to the fact Scape has already carried out a lengthy procurement process for its framework contractors on its clients’ behalf which means this task has already been completed.

Scape operates nationally with the aim of improving economy and efficiency to public sector building processes.

Sunesis buildings are delivered through Scape’s OJEU compliant frameworks which enable quick delivery and guarantee local spend helping to support the economy in the areas where projects are taking place.

The same supply chain was also engaged across all three projects and using the Scape framework resulted in the council saving £150,000 on procurement costs alone.

“The project development/procurement process was well structured and supported by a suite of standard documentation that made the process pain free,” Oliver Gill added.

“This, combined with the standardised Sunesis building solution, has resulted in a much swifter project delivery and significant cost savings, relative to projects that the council has previously delivered.

“The streamlining of this process was one of the key factors in bringing cost down and the accelerated timescale was absolutely essential in terms of our being able to meet the needs of our rapidly increasing pupil cohort.”

The commitment to using local suppliers and services saw 55 per cent of labour on the projects come from within a 20-mile radius.

Scape chief executive Mark Robinson said the success of Sunesis was based on meeting key challenges facing local authorities across the country.

“Those authorities are under pressure to deliver high quality facilities for their local communities such as schools, leisure and care buildings while faced with increasing pressure on their budgets,” Mark said.

“In addition, many authorities like Southampton are faced with an increasing population and the need to create more school places in a relatively short period of time.

“By harnessing the experience of local authorities and the skills of our private sector partners, Sunesis helps meet those needs – delivering quality accommodation at a fixed cost to an agreed deadline.”

Oliver Gill added: “Southampton City Council is extremely pleased with the three buildings that have been delivered through the Scape framework.

“All in all, these projects have marked a significant step change in how the council does business.”

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