Willmott Dixon has been selected as preferred bidder for the £22 million building contract to create a high quality facility for Bedford Academy, which opened in September on the old John Bunyan Upper School site.

Sponsored by the Bedford Charity (The Harpur Trust) and Bedford College, the academy will specialise in Science and Technology and provide a free education for pupils of all abilities in the catchment area.

David Russell, chief executive, The Bedford Charity, said, “We are delighted to be co-sponsoring the academy and working with the College, the local authority and the academy team to provide the best possible educational opportunities for local pupils. Appointing a preferred bidder for the building contract is a significant milestone, and we look forward to continuing to work with Willmott Dixon over the coming months as they develop the plans for the exciting, new academy buildings”.

Cllr David Sawyer, portfolio holder for Children’s Services, at Bedford Borough Council said: "I am delighted that the contract for the Bedford Academy has now been awarded. This represents a very significant capital investment in our schools and will provide much improved educational facilities for young people locally. This successful development marks a key stage in our fight for a similar scale of investment in our other schools, and we are continuing to argue the case for investment in the Borough."

Willmott Dixon will work with Bond Bryan Architects to develop the final stages of the design with a planning application submitted by the end of November. The council aims to sign the final contract for construction by spring 2011.

Chris Tredget, Willmott Dixon’s managing director in the Northern Homes Counties said, “We are delighted to be appointed and I am particularly pleased as a local resident to see Willmott Dixon working on this project designed to encourage the aspirations of local children.

“It’s not just pupils and teachers that will benefit from this; we are committed to using local businesses and services in delivering the project in line with our sustainable development business ethos.”

The design will provide flexibility to enable future expansion to meet long-term education demands throughout the building’s lifespan. The pupils’ learning environment will be further enhanced by abundant open spaces, natural light and natural ventilation to help create a stimulating place to learn and reduce its overall carbon footprint.”