27 May 2021

Earlier this month we celebrated the birthday of the Southern Construction Framework (SCF). Now in its fourth generation, Guy Dawes, our framework manager reflects on the success of our partnership with the SCF and picks some his favourite achievements.

SCF was created as a joint venture between Devon & Hampshire County Councils, the framework has been designed as compliant, performance managed method of procurement by the public sector for the public sector, serving London, the South East and the South West.

Willmott Dixon have been at the forefront of the SCF’s outcomes, having delivered over £500m of projects across the four generations of the framework, all projects have completed on time recording and generating a total combined ‘added value’ of £37m. As we celebrate the birthday of the fourth generation of the framework, below are some of my standout moments:

Creating £18m of local spend at The Box

Just before Christmas in 2019 we handed over The Box. Located in Plymouth and built to celebrate 400 years since the sailing of the Mayflower to America, this iconic Grade Two listed property houses more than two million items that capture all kinds of local history

During the project’s delivery, we saw the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy in the community, through local spend and local social engagement. Through our specialist local supply chain, we were able to generate £18m of local spend, generating prosperity within Devon and supporting local business. We also worked with the Prince’s Trust to support young people into employment, education or training in Plymouth.

Our relationship with Plymouth has gone from strength to strength following the delivery of the Box. Through the opening of a new office in the City in the Spring of 2021, we are proud to invest in Plymouth’s future, creating a platform to create local jobs and grow the business across the region.

Refitting to increase efficiency at London Screen Academy

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In August 2019 our Interiors business handed over London Screen Academy, transforming a former factory in Islington into a new film school. Whilst the building retained the 1930’s warehouse authenticity, inside the building was anything but old!

To me, one of the key highlights of the project was the opportunity to embed a wealth of sustainable building practices to improve the energy performance of the building, lowering the lifetime costs for the user. To achieve this, we delivered the building using the BREEAM ‘Non-Domestic Refurbishment and Fit-Out’ 2014 standard, increasing occupancy wellbeing, all while retaining the building’s existing character.

A key aspect was a heating system that makes use of passive heat recovery, using outdoor air to cool the building where possible. Further low-carbon technologies include 100 percent LED lighting throughout the building, with additional daylight dimming functionality and presence detection. As well as extensive building management system, the building’s roof has a green area to enhance biodiversity and solar PV panels to generate renewable electricity and export back to the national grid.

The confidence gained from this project, along with other key sustainable building developments, including delivering the UK's first Passivhaus ‘plus’ net carbon positive school at Hackbridge Primary School, as allowed us to set some of the toughest science based targets within the construction industry through our 2030 ‘Now or Never’ sustainability strategy. Within the ‘Brilliant Buildings’ theme of the strategy, we pledge that by the end of 2030 all our new buildings and major refurbishments will achieve net zero operational carbon. They will also be future-climate ready and optimise the health and wellbeing of the people living and working in them.

Embedding coronavirus safe working practices to deliver vital school places

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Over the past fifteen months the word ‘unprecedented’ has become a common part of English language, and in truth there has been no other way to describe the pandemic. With the UK facing a national housing shortage and the need for thousands of extra school places, I have been proud of how the team at Willmott Dixon and the wider construction industry have innovated, used technology and endeavoured to keep vital building projects open, through embedding the Government-backed Construction Leadership Council’s Covid-19 Site Operating Procedures.

A key project handed over in the spring of 2020 via the SCF framework was our work at Barton Farm Primary School in Winchester. Creating 400 additional school places within one of the most environmentally friendly education buildings in Hampshire, it was critical the project was delivered ahead of the new academic year to provide a place for children to learn. The site team embedded a series of Covid-19 safe working practices including one-way systems, staggered lunch and break times to avoid overcrowding and an increase in sanitisation stations to allow the vital work to continue safely. The outcome has been a vital project delivered on time, much to the delight of the customer.

Recognition for customer service

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In June 2020 we were recognised by the SCF through the award of the ‘Partnership and Innovation’ award at the SCF Annual Awards. The award commended the businesses’ approach to customer service, with 100% of projects delivered through the framework being delivered on time, achieving an average customer satisfaction score of 9/10.

Keith Heard, framework lead at SCF said

“we are delighted to award this prestigious honour to Willmott Dixon, recognising outstanding achievement. As a frontrunner since the framework’s inception, we are pleased to see Willmott Dixon delivering the highest levels of customer collaboration as they deliver critical building projects”.

Our work is not done!

While I am proud of the achievements shared in the article, the opportunities to deliver brilliant buildings and enhance the communities we work in, working in collaboration with the SCF are significant.

As touched upon earlier, one of our key initiatives that will underpin our working practices are our commitments within our 2030 ‘Now or Never’ sustainability strategy, including a pledge to improve the lives of over 100,000 people through the delivery of high-impact social value which we can demonstrate meets the needs of the local communities.

A pioneering SCF procured project, which has laid the foundation for this ambitious target is the creation of our first Building Lives Academy during the delivey of New Addington Leisure Centre. Working with MRG Services, Carshalton College and Croydon Council’s job brokerage service Croydon Works, during the project we delivered training to allow people who are NEET to learn Level 1 construction operations, practical skills training, CSCS training, Level 1 health and safety at work and employability skills.

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The opening of our Building Lives Academeny as part of our social value outreach programme at New Addington Leisure Centre. The first of many!

The outcomes were outstanding, and we have used this as a model to create further Building Lives Academies across England and Wales. Most recently at our Building Lives Academy Eastbourne, Grace Collett, a graduates from December 2020 gained a job in our supply chain, I am proud of our opportunity to leave a legacy in the communities we serve.