Birkenhead High set for revamp

Willmott Dixon has signed a £10.3m contract to revitalise Birkenhead High School Academy, an independent girls' school.

The contractor, which has a northern office employing 110 people in Oldham, will remodel and refurbish the existing buildings as well as adding new accommodation.

Chris Mann, the new academy principal, said: "The project will enable us to continue providing an excellent all round education for girls from the area of 3-19 years of age within the glorious original buildings but with 21st century facilities."

Working with the Girls' Day School Trust as sponsor, Wirral Council and Mott MacDonald as technical advisors, Willmott Dixon will start on site immediately, with completion by October 2012. The architects are Aedas, structural engineers Capita Symonds and mechanical and electrical consultants, TACE.

Birkenhead High School AcademyThe project will see the nursery, infant and junior school modernised and linked together by a new three-storey building. This will provide new library and ICT facilities and an assembly hall alongside additional classrooms.

The adjacent secondary school's 1960s hall will be replaced by a multi-functional central space which will offer a theatre, dining room, study areas and a café alongside a new hall. Other buildings on site will be retained but remodelled and refurbished to match the new facilities.

The landscaping across the whole site will also be improved and enhanced to include an amphitheatre, Arts terrace and extra sports facilities.

John Frankiewcz, chief executive of Willmott Dixon's capital works division, said: "While there will always be a need to create new buildings, clients are being more innovative in how they renew them and this includes mixing refurbishment with new-build to modernise and enlarge the facility. We have shown recently with Macclesfield High School that taking this approach saved over £4m compared to going down a new-build route."

One third of the Macclesfield project was refurbishment and the remaining added as new-build, resulting, the contractor claims, in a 22% saving against the cost of an entire new-build, a contract sum of £15m against a new-build price of £19.5m.

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