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Initial success for standardised design for schools

Wilmott Dixon says it has a potential £100m pipeline for standardised schools after Warwickshire County Council became the first authority to use its Sunesis school design.

The contractor, with public sector prosurement authority Scape, launched its Sunesis product last year which promises to save 30 per cent on school costs as it builds pre-designed schools at a cost of £8,500 - £10,000.

The council has chosen the ‘Keynes’ model from the Sunesis range at a cost of £2.2 million for a new building as part of an extension to Oakfield Primary School in Rugby.

Willmott Dixon is also promising a quick turnaround time for the building, as from the date of inquiry in July last year through to completion in September 2012, it says the council will save 26 weeks compared to a tradition model of designing a bespoke school and tendering for a contractor.

The council said it was the speed of building that convinced them to use the standardised school option, as Cllr Colin Hayfield said: “Sunesis will deliver all the accommodation we need and more. The value for money is comparable - if not better than our other projects - but the big advantage is speed. There’s no other product that can deliver a fully designed school to meet the fast track programme we need.”

Willmott Dixon said the council will have reduced procurement time and fees associated with legal issues, feasibility studies, design and time spent at planning and procurement meetings.

WD midlands managing director and education sector leader Peter Owen said: “This is a tremendous moment in the delivery of a new generation of efficient schools that provide an excellent learning environment but at significantly lower cost.

“This is about Willmott Dixon and Scape providing a real solution to councils who want their budgets, already under much pressure, to go even further for what they spend.”

Scape chief executive Mark Robinson added: “Cost certainty in the challenging financial climate is a critical factor for local authorities in delivering quality buildings within limited budgets.

“Through Sunesis, we’ve cut out a huge amount of waste so that projects can be delivered quickly and very competitively. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Willmott Dixon and Warwickshire to get this first Sunesis project off the ground.”