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Thu June 17 2021

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Willmott Dixon sells three more off-the-peg schools

9 Jul 12 Southampton City Council is investing £13m on three off-the-peg Sunesis schools.

The Sunesis Dewey school design
The Sunesis Dewey school design

Sunesis is Willmott Dixon and Scape’s brand for pre-designed cut-price primary and secondary schools. The schools are available at a fixed price that aims to achieve a build cost of £8,500-£10,000 per pupil against a typical school cost per pupil range of £15,000-£20,000.

There are four Sunesis models for primary schools - Keynes, Newton, Paxton and Dewey - and one, the Mondrian, for secondary schools.

Southampton has selected three Dewey models to provide replacement accommodation for three schools: Wordsworth Infant school, Banister Infant and Nursery school and Moorlands Primary School.

As well as a 50% cost reduction, build time is also halved, from 18-24 months to less than a year, it is claimed.

Southampton City Council strategy & capital programme manager Oliver Gill said: “The recent surge in birth rates has necessitated our need to undertake a rapid expansion of capacity in primary school places. In order to deliver best value from the DfE funding targeted at meeting this need, we have done significant research into the concept of design standardisation and opportunities available in the marketplace. This research and market engagement resulted in our deciding to procure the Sunesis school model via Scape for our three largest primary expansions.

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“Adopting this approach has served to significantly reduce the time that the authority has spent in design and procurement, thereby expediting the delivery of the buildings and reducing the associated cost. As a consequence, we have been able to deliver new build solutions for schools where this had previously been thought impossible within the available funding. Simply put, it’s a far better way of doing business.”

Southampton’s follows Warwickshire County Council selecting the Keynes model in the Sunesis range for a new school in Rugby, when previously its budget would only have afforded a refurbishment and extension.

By procuring a pre-designed Sunesis school through Scape, a local authority controlled company at the forefront of driving down UK public sector building procurement costs, Warwickshire reduced procurement time and fees associated with legal issues, feasibility studies, design and time spent at planning and procurement meetings. The total time saving for the authority is around 12 months.

Scape says that there are more than £120m-worth of inquiries for Sunesis schools currently, with many awaiting planning approval before work starts on site. 

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