Thursday, 24 September 2009

Innovation points way for city build gems

Innovative work methods used in the complex project to rebuild Swansea's Penyrheol School could now be used in other key construction schemes.

The school's stunning new main block is due to be officially opened this Friday (September 25) three years after its predecessor was destroyed by fire. Officers from Swansea Council's education and corporate building services joined forces with the school in the rebuild scheme.

Councillors have now considered a report from the Council's Head of Corporate Building Services who says that that invaluable experience was gained at Penyrheol.

In a report to the Council's Finance, Audit and Business Improvement Scrutiny Board, Martin Nicholls outlined that a key factor in success at the school was the teamwork of all organisations and businesses concerned.

He said: "The great teamwork at Penyrheol meant that contractors could develop innovative solutions to overcome potential problems. The project illustrated how important it is for everybody involved in a major project to work together as a strong team and to be fully involved from day one.

"There was still a formal contract, of course, but our superb working relationships were vitally important. This meant we could foresee possible glitches and could negate them quickly and efficiently. Everybody bought into the process and it remained one of the biggest strengths of the project."

Penyrheol's main school building was destroyed by fire in early 2006. A huge recovery operation saw lessons continue in the community, in temporary classrooms and in the school's existing annexe.

School managers, governors and the Council began the long and detailed issue of planning a replacement building.

Building with main contractor Carillion began in April last year and the 920 pupils, 55 teachers and 30 associate and support staff returned in the first week of September. The project was delivered on time and on budget and also secured demonstration status from Constructing Excellence which promotes innovative construction processes.

The Finance, Audit and Business Improvement Scrutiny Board was eager to understand exactly how this was achieved.

Mr Nicholls said: "Budgets were carefully set and controlled, great care was taken to involve all relevant stakeholders in the creation of the project brief and collaborative working was developed in order to maintain certainty over costs and timescales."

He said that benefits of collaborative working included that everyone had their say, there was an increased certainty of the costs and programme, full compliance with regulations, effective relationships built on trust and effective communications.

He said the Council was already embedding the principles of lessons learned at Penyrheol into its latest capital programme and future major projects.


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