Willmott Dixon building two colleges for HS2 engineers

Willmott Dixon has followed up its role to build a headquarters in Birmingham for HS2’s delivery team by being appointed main contractor to design and construct the flagship HS2 college in Doncaster.

The company was selected for the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) by Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council through Scape Group’s National Major Works framework with work on site starting four weeks earlier than planned.

The college comprises 7600m2 of teaching and workshop space and includes significant specialist rail equipment such as 150m of external track and catenary. Set for completion in August 2017, the college will meet HS2’s future training needs, as well as those in the wider rail sector, by providing a ‘real work environment’ to prepare students for work on high-speed rail infrastructure.

Willmott Dixon is also on site with enabling works for the Birmingham campus of the NCHSR for Birmingham City Council. This joint-procurement has delivered significant efficiency savings to date, with a co-ordinated supply chain, design approach and full use of Level 2 BIM across both schemes.

The project has a core value of “One college, two sites.” Both campuses comprise a landmark building, intended to inspire and motivate students.

The plans are a boost for the construction industry which has an estimated annual skills deficit of 50,000 due to more skilled workers leaving than joining the industry.

It is also the third time in 12 months that Doncaster has used Scape to provide a fast and efficient procurement route. Willmott Dixon and Scape have worked together to deliver the council’s first new primary school in a generation, Carr Lodge Academy, as well as 120 homes for affordable rent in Victoria Court, Bentley, plus a waste transfer scheme. Like all Scape projects, 40% of build spend for the college will be on companies located within a 20 mile radius.

Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive:

“HS2 is essential to rebalancing our economy and creating a Northern Powerhouse. A project of this scale requires a fresh pool of talent equipped with a wide range of skillsets. As many as 2,000 apprenticeships will be created by HS2 with around 25,000 employed during its construction, which will be a substantial boost to our industry talent pool. We are excited to be playing a crucial role in a project which will help to rekindle a sense of pride in careers in construction as well as helping to create a consistently strong UK PLC.”

Managing Director for Willmott Dixon’s construction activities in the North, Anthony Dillon:

“We already have a big presence in Doncaster where our projects are acting as a catalyst for continued growth, so are delighted our involvement in the college will strengthen this by helping the town remain at the heart of the UK rail sector."