The Western Isles Schools Hybrid Project is delivering a significant replacement and improvement programme across the Education Estate within the Outer Hebrides, covering the islands of Lewis, Harris and Benbecula. The project involves the construction of six schools, including pre-school, primary, secondary and community facilities with a combined capital value of £70m; these are wrapped around a 28 year facilities and life cycle management contract with an additional value of £60m.
The schools are predominately new build, however, they do include both refurbishment and listed buildings elements, extending over 24,500m2 and equating to 40% of the Local Authority’s entire school estate. The cornerstone project is The Nicolson Institute and the main high school for the Islands; practically 90% of the student population will be taught here over the course of their school life.
The procurement model developed, required to deliver the disciplines and aims of a PPP/PFI/NPD (Not for Profit) structure and focus on value for money (VFM), affordability and risk transfer, whilst allowing the Local Authority to procure the schools.
Faithful+Gould was originally commissioned during the development phases of the project and following a 24 month construction programme, the final school has been handed over. We were appointed as the Private Sector Development Partner (PSDP) by Sgoiltean Ùra LLP, an arms-length organisation wholly owned by the Local Authority that holds its own constitutional, financial and management arrangements. Faithful+Gould provided a number of key services on the project including, the development and implementation of a procurement strategy, maintaining the management and coordination of the buildings design, along with the procurement of the separate design and build services contractors – brought together through an interface agreement.
Faithful+Gould delivered commercial and employers agent services, cost advice, risk management and value management, whilst also acting as an independent certifier during the construction phase, providing operational monitoring and additional services during the concession period.
We encountered and addressed many challenges throughout our commission which were overcome by our close working relationship with the client. Some key points being that the project was the largest ever undertaken by the client and had defined criteria that had to be achieved to receive Government funding. The projects remote location on the island along with its restraints, due to marine environments, made the project furthermore complex. The scheme attracted high quality consortia in a challenging marketplace and included listed buildings as well as a requirement of BREEAM Excellent rating. Faithful+Gould has been conscious throughout the commission of the associated legacy element and worked hard to exceed the client’s expectations. We developed an innovative procurement strategy which was agile and flexible for the client needs. Through effectively responding to a challenging marketplace we addressed contractor insolvency along with maximising local supply chains. We successfully delivered these quality facilities on time, within budget, both snag and defect free. Through championing the use of the facilities we have already seen an increase in usage from the local community.