Bright future for Blyth School

3rd December, 2019

Northumberland County Council has embraced offsite construction for first time with a pioneering 14-week programme for a primary school extension at Horton Grange Primary School. CPC – the new partnership between LHC and Northern Housing Consortium – has provided a fast and efficient procurement framework solution for the construction of Northumberland County Council's first ever building project utilising the latest innovations in offsite construction.

CPC is a partnership for public sector procurement excellence, between not-for-profit organisations LHC and Consortium Procurement. LHC is a leading provider of free-to-use OJEU compliant framework agreements for local authorities, social landlords and other public sector bodies. Consortium Procurement is the procurement arm of Northern Housing Consortium (NHC), providing a wide range of tenant services and compliance solutions designed to protect residents and property.

CPC is a partnership designed to offer each organisation's current and potential new members an unrivalled range of procurement solutions. The result is a 450sq m extension to Horton Grange Primary School in Blyth. Three new classrooms, plus facilities required to support the influx of 105 additional pupils feature high quality finishes and are built to rigorous standards. The main corridor features a continuous full-length skylight – unique in modular building design – that floods this pivotal area in natural light, creating a welcoming learning environment. The contract was completed early in a 14-week programme and under budget. Faced with short timescales, the council entrusted the project to experienced Newcastle-upon-Tyne project management consultants Faithful+Gould.

"The council's brief was to deliver a high-quality modular building and achieve best value for money, but also that the result 'should not look like a modular building," said Project Manager Mark Chicken comments.

"As this was a pioneering MMC project, we engaged the procurement support of CPC. From their wide range of frameworks, one specifically introduced for modular buildings was selected. "Suppliers are appointed to this framework based on price, quality and compliance, saving precious time and providing both us and the council with the necessary confidence. CPC client support manager Ian Brown's help and guidance through the framework was invaluable, making the whole process smooth and seamless."

The contract was awarded to M-AR Offsite. Groundworks started on 16 April, whilst construction of the building commenced in parallel at M-AR's East Yorkshire facility. The modules were manufactured in a controlled environment, ensuring the highest levels of quality and compliance. This included all necessary services such as lighting, electrical, plumbing and a hybrid ventilation 

system – plus washroom facilities, a kitchen, sinks in each classroom, blinds and floor coverings.

Delivery of the building was made exactly on time six weeks later to coincide with the late spring half term break, for pupil safety and to avoid any disruption. All 13 modules comprising the building were delivered and fixed in position with millimetre precision in just 24 hours. Now on-site, M-AR's experienced site team have started the final phase. Bricks used to clad the new building were carefully matched to the existing adjacent classroom brickwork. Module interfaces were taped and jointed prior to full decoration of the interior, whilst final connections to power, data and plumbing services were made.

Finishing touches included the installation of furniture and whiteboards – all part of M-AR's turnkey project solution. On 19 July the project was handed over, ahead of programme and in ample time for the new school term.

"The reassurance of CPC's preassessment of M-AR Offsite was immediately fulfilled," adds Mark Chicken.  "As the M-AR team's drive and pro-active work ethos instantly gave us confidence thanks to their experience in MMC solutions. They were dedicated to achieving the vision we shared with them, guiding us through early decision making on fixtures and finishes, essential with offsite construction. The result speaks for itself. There has been no compromise to any of the three key elements of any construction project – time, cost and quality. In fact, all have exceeded expectations, creating a perfect balance. The school and community have a new building in which they can be justifiably proud, now and for many years to come. For me personally, the experience has been nothing but positive."

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