Oakfield is being developed on a not-for-profit basis by Nationwide Building Society on a derelict brownfield site in its hometown of Swindon where it says no other housebuilder was prepared to build. It received planning permission for 239 new homes for sale or rent in July 2019.
Mi-space, part of the Midas Group, was confirmed in February 2020 as main contractor for the £50m project. It stared on site in April, with construction expected to take around three and a half years
Now in the construction phase, Mi-space has subcontracted the groundworks works to Conlon, including the construction of roads and sewers and to prepare the site for piling.
Based in Cricklade, Conlon operates within a 50 mile radius of its head office across Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Berkshire, Worcestershire and Hampshire. Mi-space project director Rob Bennett said his company preferred to use local subcontractors.
“Conlon do much of their training in-house, which is unusual for a groundworks company, and the plant and technology they use is industry-leading,” Rob Bennett said. “About 60% of their workforce are local, and within their contract with us, they have agreed to specific employment and skills targets, which means they will employ local people, provide apprenticeships, and commit to continue to provide training for their local workforce.”
The first staff from Conlon began arriving on site at Oakfield at the end of June, and by August, 29 staff from Conlon were working at Oakfield, with 25 of them living within 20 miles of the site, and all living within 40 miles.
Dermot Conlon, director and owner of Conlon, said: “It is a priority for us to employ a locally-based workforce to support the regional economy wherever possible but even more so for our workforce to be long-established and well-trained, so we can ensure the quality of our work is consistent for all clients, and we can trust in and rely on our staff to deliver at a high level.
“We are a family business and our growth is less about being profit-driven and more aimed at being satisfaction-driven; rather than trying to expand too quickly, we aim to deliver steady, sustainable growth and ensure we have the right workforce in place to ensure quality management. You need a good workforce to deliver a good job, and to maintain client satisfaction.”
Dermot Conlon concluded: “Oakfield is a key project for us and our first project working for Mi-space, and we are delighted to be on site already and working in parallel with the aims and objectives of Mi-space and Nationwide to deliver a pivotal development which provides benefits for local people and the local economy during the construction process.”