Willmott Dixon has signed the contract on the second of three academy schools in Oldham where it has been preferred bidder since March 2010.

The £26.3 million contract with Oldham Council will see Willmott Dixon deliver the new Waterhead Academy, sponsored by The Oldham College, on the site of the former Orb Mill, off Huddersfield Road.

Designed by Aedas, it replaces the current Waterhead Academy and will open in November 2012. It will include indoor and outdoor sporting provision available to all the local community – including a fitness and activity studio, floodlit artificial 3G pitch and hard surface areas for football, netball and tennis.

Councillor Jack Hulme, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “We are delighted to sign this agreement with Willmott Dixon. From the outset our vision with this scheme – and indeed for all three of our Academy school projects – has been to provide inspiring buildings that deliver the very best in secondary education.

“Waterhead Academy will also provide important facilities for the local community and the signing of this contract is extremely positive news.”

This new contract follows a deal being signed in September 2010 for the new Oasis Academy Oldham on the site of the former Brook Mill in Hollinwood. Plans for the new EACT-sponsored Oldham Academy North – to be based on the current site of Our Lady’s, Royton replacing Grange School – are proceeding.

Willmott Dixon secured the work following a competitive process under the national academies framework. As part of its ‘local pound’ agenda, the company will invest a significant element of the Academies budget within Oldham providing local employment and training. This includes annual work experience placements and providing pupils with development opportunities in professions such as Graphic Design, Quantity Surveying and Structural and Civil Engineering

Anthony Dillon, managing director for Willmott Dixon’s office in Oldham, said, “With our offices literally round the corner, we are absolutely delighted that we can play a key role in helping develop three outstanding new places to learn and develop within our own community.