Wates walks away from £24m Stockport College build

The £24m rebuild of Stockport College’s campus on the A6 is still on track despite the departure of contractor Wates, which has left the project claiming it was “unfeasible” within its existing budget.

Wates was appointed on the project via the North West Construction Hub in September last year, but the college has now decided to re-procure the scheme via the hub after a disagreement with Wates over the project’s delivery.

Demolition is already progressing on the scheme, which will see the existing campus completely redesigned; the Vernon Centre on Royal George Street will be partially demolished to make way for a new car park, while a new building called The Street will be built along the A6 to link the campus together.

This will include a colonnade fronting the reception and performing arts building to create a feature entrance, while a two-storey glazed internal ‘street’ will provide a walkway and relaxation area connecting the reception to the college’s art workshops and the Lyme Centre.

The eight-storey Lyme Centre, the college’s southern tower which houses its dining, learning resource centre, and teaching functions including engineering, maths, and English, is described as “poor quality” with “tired and outdated elevations that present a poor image of the college and the wider town centre to visitors and the public passing on Wellington Road”.

Overall, around 22,000 sq ft of redundant floorspace will be demolished, while around 11,000 sq ft of new floorspace will be added, primarily in the new Street building. Refurbishment projects to be carried out include the Lyme Centre’s performing arts building, while the dining hall and kitchens will be relocated to the ground floor of the Lyme Tower with a new café space.

In a statement to Place North West, a spokesperson for the Trafford College Group said: “The project to redevelop Stockport College is well underway and we are currently re-procuring for the next phase of the build.  This comes as part of a natural break in the project where a number of companies including Wates were asked to submit proposals.

“The initial work is well advanced including the demolition of sections of the campus and other preparatory works to allow for the next phase to commence, and we are on track to deliver the project to plan.

“The College and its professional advisors look forward to working with the successful contractor to continue what is an exciting and important project that will provide an educational facility that the students and local community of Stockport will be proud of.”

Confirming its departure from the scheme, a spokesperson for Wates added: “Since our appointment to deliver the new Stockport College campus in September 2018 we have worked tirelessly with our client to bring the project in line with the budget.

“Despite the effort and dedication of everyone involved this has not been possible, leading to our decision to withdraw from the project. We believe that the scale and scope of the new campus is unfortunately unfeasible within the existing budget without compromising on the quality of the development.”

The Trafford College Group and Rider Levett Bucknall are understood to now be using Procure North West’s framework for the project, with Wates declining to bid; this leaves Bam, Galliford Try, Interserve, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Morgan Sindall, and Willmott Dixon as potential bidders.

The professional team includes architect Project3, planner Indigo, Planit-IE, Rider Levett Bucknall, Hydrock, and CBO Transport.

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