St Michael’s CE Primary School

Larkhill, Wiltshire

Project Details


Wiltshire Council

Project Manager



Kendall Kingscott


Morgan Sindall



Contract Period

59 weeks

Procurement Type

Design & Build

Form of Contract

JCT 2011 D&B

Project Summary

Construction of a new 2FE (420 place) primary school, plus a 60-place nursery school provision on a greenfield site in Larkhill, Wiltshire. The project was part of the army rebasing programme for the relocation of troops from Germany, with 917 homes constructed by Morgan Sindall Group sister company, Lovell. The 1.8 ha site was subject to a land transfer agreement between the MOD and Wiltshire Council as part of an S.106 Agreement. The site was challenging, having an approx. 15m slope along its length. Consequently, several terraces were formed for the two-storey building plus associated soft and hard play areas. The project also involved extensive hard and soft landscaping.

“I am pleased pupils are settling into their new school which I’m sure will inspire learning and help them to achieve their potential. One of our key commitments has been to ensure sufficient school places for local communities and for Army families coming to settle here in 2019. There is a wide programme of school expansion and building to achieve this and I’m sure this lovely new school will provide a wonderful welcome to the Army families who will be joining their peers in these bright new classrooms next summer.”

“I feel hugely privileged being here, thinking back to the cut in the chalk that we saw just over a year ago, to this! An incredible school, by which I mean not only the building but the individuals within it; providing our children with the firm foundation they need to go out from here, standout in their communities and shine brightly in a rapidly changing world.”

Key Challenges

The topography of the site involved a 15m gradient across the site.

The school building itself was positioned at the lowest part of the slope, with the courtyard and break-out areas to the rear on the same elevation. The first terrace was formed using a stone gabion retaining structure, leading to soft landscaping. The next level was formed with a timber crib lock wall providing the Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA). The following terrace created a wild flower meadow, and finally the top level provided the sport pitches

Project Takeaways

Our Success

  • A VE exercise was undertaken during the second stage to identify opportunities and suggest alternative products or rationalisation of the design to bring the project within budget.
  • A Siniat Weather Defence Board was identified as an alternative product which reduces reliance on workmanship, providing a consistent quality finish and reducing the need for third-party quality checks, saving costs.
  • Omission of Brise Solei and adjustment to floor finishes provided a £20k saving to the school’s life cycle costs.
  • Thickness of the ground floor slab was reduced from 200mm all over to 150mm to all areas, except the plant room and main hall, saving £20k.
  • Composite windows were changed to aluminium, saving £50k. Aluminium windows offer the same BREEAM rating, achieve the same U value and are a more robust product.
  • End-user engagement ensured pupils felt involved with the project and teachers had meaningful input into the classrooms and operation of the building. Pupils entered a competition to illustrate what they wanted their new school to look like. Their artwork was incorporated and displayed at the site entrance, which was particularly meaningful when pupils visited site.

Our Learnings

  • Installation by others of the planned approach road to the site was delayed and not in place for the start of works. An alternative 2.5 mile redundant off-road ‘tank’ track was used. Prior to being able to use this route, appropriate UXO and archaeology certificates had to be obtained. This resulted in a two-week delay to the programme which was ultimately absorbed during the project.

Value Added

  • Identified over £436k of savings through the VE exercise up to Gateway 3, an additional £10k to incorporate cycle storage, and a further £220k incorporated during the project
    (signed off at Gateway 4).
  • Project left a positive lasting-legacy through a community engagement initiative at the nearby Old Sarum School, where the contractor’s team donated time, labour and materials alongside key trade partners, to refurbish a community allotment.
  • Looking after the environment, the project used solar lights to illuminate external walkways, installed PV panels as part of permanent works, recycled rainwater on site during
    construction and utilised a community wood recycling scheme.
  • Investing into the local community, 96% of Small to Medium sized Enterprises were used.

KPI’s & Statistics

ContractGateway 2 Planning Gateway 4 Contract CompletionVariation
Time58 weeks61 weeks3 weeks