Change font size on this website:
A
A
A
Urgent News :

New Building Update

9 September 2019

Attached is the presentation governors made staff and parents & carers at a meeting on 6 September.  You will note that WSCC have now disclosed that the vacillation since 4th July is in fact a deliberate decision not to consult with the school or take into account any of their views or concerns.

Governors are now taking steps to ensure that the voice of the school is heard and that the college building meets the needs of our pupils.

If parents & carers or staff would like more detailed information please  do not hesitate to contact the governors directly. The governors will be manning a new College Update table at parents evenings and at the fireworks evening.

22 July 2019:

The focus of the Governors has been to progress the construction of the new college building.  Following the decision of WSCC to allocate £20M in the budget for this project we were excited to think that at long last after all the battles we were actually going to get a new building and there was a timeline produced by WSCC to deliver this by September 2021.

We are more than disappointed that such are the delays and slippage, we now think this is unlikely to be achieved. Although WSCC continue to state they are aiming for September 2021,

We were so concerned that we raised formal questions in public at the recent County Local Council meeting, not all of which have been answered satisfactorily.

Although as previously reported on 21 June we had been told the next Project Board would look at the revised initial designs currently being worked on, the governors have not been given sight of any plans other than that initial layout proposals.

We have received initial very broad-brush costs estimates showing the project as coming in at more than £20M, to include all contingencies, profit costs, inflation, planning and survey fees and professional costs.  The Governors raised detailed questions about some of the figures which have been produced and understand WSCC is working to refine these figures.

As far we are aware no action has been taken towards the procurement of a building contractor.

We are advised consultants and surveyors for the project team and required surveys are being selected, of whom we await details and a number of preplanning consultations are now underway.

It is not yet clear if there will be sufficient information in time to enable the Business Case to be prepared for a decision in September, as proposed in the WSCC Forward Plan.

Work will continue on the project during the summer and we will be issuing a Governors Newsletter at the beginning of next term, when hopefully we will have more positive news, and will advise what action the Governors will be taking if the September date for the Business Case is missed.

1 June 2019:

The update today of WSCC Forward Plan shows that the proposal to ask the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills to agree the allocation of funds from the Capital Programme to enable the rebuilding and expansion project at Woodlands Meed to proceed has been added to the Forward Plan and that this decision will be made in September 2019.

This means that the project is still continuing and that the design and detailed costing must be agreed by September in order to allow the decision to agree to release the funding for the construction to be made.

21 June 2019: 

There was a Project Board meeting on 20 June to consider a schedule of the costed options for the new building, which included consideration of the possibility of decanting the college to a temporary site, to allow for easier construction and  better configured building and access in the long run.

Although the costs schedule were fairly broad brush estimates at this stage, it was clear that  temporary relocation of the whole college was prohibitively expensive and took the figures well outside the total scheme budget figure of £20M.

The architects are now looking again at the initial designs for the building on the playing field to see if the configuration can be improved.  They are confident that they will be able to design a well-functioning building on the site.

Disappointingly, as previously notified, there is a significantly delay in the selection and appointment of the contractor.  The WSCC procurement board have decided to start again with an alternative framework.  Contractors from the framework will be invited to submit an Expression of Interest (“EOI”) from which a short list of contractors will be selected to present a mini tender, and a contractor then selected.  This whole procedure will take some months. It is not known at present when the EOIs will be issued. Governors are pressing to be included in the selection process.

Disappointingly, as raised at the CLC meeting, WSCC have withdrawn their agreement to provide a 450m2 sports hall as part of the project.  It has been confirmed that WSCC are now only prepared to fund the basic minimum size hall required by Building Bulletin 104. The school will review their current application for funding to the Sports Council with the architects to establish if it is possible to obtain a grant for the additional difference in funding which will now be required to construct a four court hall, the minimum standard required by Sport England.  If this is not possible then the school will reluctantly not proceed with the proposed Centre for Inclusive Sport

Following the CLC meeting last week, a WSCC Councillor has been invited to join the Project Board, and Cllr Anne Jones attended the last meeting.

The next Project Board will look at the revised initial designs currently being worked on and review more closely the initial draft costing schedule.


14 June 2019:

Although it may appear to those not directly involved to have been very quiet, in fact the architects have been working hard with Governors.  There have been a number of meetings on site where everyone has been working out how the site can best be used to provide a building fit for purpose for many years to come and with the best possible facilities.  The architects are very experienced in the design of schools for children with special needs and the Governors have a lot of confidence in their ability to produce what the college needs if they are permitted to do so.  

It has always been accepted that building on the playing fields was not an ideal solution, but the site is the only open land available.  However, the architects have proposed that it might be possible to decant the college to a temporary site which would enable the new building to be sited on the footprint of the present building.  The temporary site being considered is the land at the back of the MUGA at the school site.

On the basis that this would be temporary only, would provide the equivalent or better accommodation than the current college huts and still enable the curriculum to be delivered, would be quicker and easier to build and would result long term in a better configuration and access for the college with a better outcome for students, the governors are prepared to consider this.  A costed report as to whether this is feasible and cost effective will be presented to a Project Board meeting on 20th June.

Governors were disappointed when, at the last Project Board meeting, comments from a WSCC representative, gave rise to a number of concerns relating to the funding and even the way forward with WSCC.  Further there were changes in the procurement process for the appointment of the contractor, proposed changes to the agreed specification and accommodation and facilities schedule and withdrawal of support for the larger sports hall.

Whilst governors do not normally attend the Community Local Councillors meetings held in public it was felt that as Woodlands Meed  update is an agenda item and that Councillor Richard Burrett, the WSCC Cabinet Member for Education and Training, was attending this meeting to answer questions on progress, it was appropriate to raise these concerns with the Councillors present.  Notice was given of a number of questions in advance of the meeting on 12 June.  Whilst the WSCC officers present preferred not to give detailed answers at the meeting, Councillor Richard Burrett did confirm that college building is definitely going ahead and that there is a committed budget of £20M.  He also reassured the meeting that it would be of an appropriate specification with built in sustainability in line with government and WSCC policies.  The governors are still pressing for full replies to their questions.

The governors do however consider that they should advise parents, carers and staff that whilst Cllr Burrett did stress the commitment to delivering the new building by September 2021, the governors have their doubts as to whether this will be possible in the light of the significant delays by WSCC which have now occurred. 

The Governors are committed to keeping this project moving forward in whatever way they can.  Most students are brought to college either by mini bus or in a taxi but for those of you who bring your child you may have seen a number of governors, outside the college, conducting a traffic count during the drop off and pick up times.  Two of the governors worked with students also to continue the count throughout the day. This was an interesting and useful learning exercise for those students who helped us.  The results will enable the school to respond to any traffic queries in due course.

It had been hoped that a design would be available by now to view and for comment, but the architects are not at this stage yet.

Please support the Pop Up Shop which will be in the Martlets, Burgess Hill Town Centre 19th to 21 June inclusive.  Students will be running the shop and selling products which they have made themselves as part of their Enterprises.  This will fantastic learning opportunity for them, and enormous thanks to all the staff who have worked so hard to make this happen.


New Building Update 2 - April 2019

The architectural practice Haverstock Associates have been selected to start work on the design of the new building.  Haverstock are an award winning  public sector practice with considerable expertise and experience in the design of SEN schools.  The selection panel (comprising WSCC officers and advisors and the head and governors from the school) were impressed by their collaborative approach, and their deep understanding of the requirements of the different types of special educational needs.

New building Update 1 - April 2019

Governors have been working with WSCC officers to prepare the design brief for the Architect and Building Contractor, which has included the brilliant Concept Designs prepared by pupils.

Presentations will be made to WSCC representatives and Governors by prospective Architect and potential Building Contractors on Monday 29th April, following which formal appointments will be made. 

A further update with the details of the Architect and Building Contractor selected will be made shortly after 29th April.

New Building Update 2- February 2019

Our learners have been busy sharing their ideas for the new college building.

New Building Update 2 - February 2019

WSCC have agreed the capital funds over the next three years for the new college building.  A dedicated Project Manager has been appointed and work has now started on the selection of the Architect to prepare the design of the new building ready for consultation and planning.

Pupils have already been contributing to the concept design brief for the Architect and parents will be consulted as soon as there is an initial design to review.

New Building Update 1 - February 2019

The Cabinet Member for Education signed off the Decision for the Woodlands Meed Design Fees releasing £500k to fund the design of the new building.


 

New Building Update 3 - January 2019

The decision to fund the new building in full has passed the next stage and will be recommended for formal approval at the next full Council meeting.

The funding will be phased over the next three years, so that the new building will be ready for occupation in September 2021.

The Timeline is on track and meetings are already taking place with council officers to start the preliminary work on plans for the new building.

New Building Update 2 - January 2019

The proposal  to fund the £500k design fees for the new building  will be on Capital Programme due to be considered at the January  meeting of the WSCC Performance and Finance Select Committee.

New Building Update - January 2019

The huts, currently used for education at the College, only have temporary planning permissions for this use, and one consent expires very shortly.  

It has been agreed that this temporary planning consent will be extended only until September 2021 on the basis that the new building will by then be constructed and in operation, and an application on this basis will be submitted in the next couple of days.

Although not a binding commitment to construct the building by this date, it is welcomed as a clear indication of the intention of the Council.

We are therefore, currently, still on track for the timeline issued in November 2018.


New Building Update - December 2018

A step closer to the new college building has been taken. 

The Council have confirmed that Asset Hub are minded to recommend funding for the design fees, ready for Capital Project Review in January.  The proposed decision to fund the fees has been published, as required, in the County Council’s Forward Plan of Key Decisions.

The decision to include the building in the WSCC capital programme is anticipated in February 2019.  It will then be possible to appoint design consultants and move towards an initial design.

We are therefore, currently, still on track for the time line issued in November.

Governors are continuing to meet with officers, so that as much as possible is in place, so that we can move to the design phase as soon as the green light is given in February.

 


New Building Update - November 2018

The Governors have been holding extensive meetings with WSCC officers and other relevant and interested parties over the last few weeks in order to progress the proposal for the new college building.

They have contributed to the Business Case to be submitted to the Asset Hub to support the case for funding the design fees.

A timetable has now been agreed for the various stages up to the opening of the school in September 2021 (see below).

The Governors will keep Staff, Parents and Carers updated via School Bulletins and on the School Website. Please contact the governors if you have any queries, by emailing office@woodlandsmeed.co.uk

Woodlands Meed – Draft Timeline – Updated November 2018

2018

December Asset Hub consideration of Strategic Outline Business Case( SOC)
 

2019

January - Capital and Asset Board consideration of SOC & Cabinet Member Decision on SOC Finance (design fees only)
February to August -  Appointment of design team/ Detailed feasibility design/ Design to planning stage/ Submit planning application/ Construction design
September -  Planning decision
October - Full Business Case (FBC) submission to Hub
November - FBC to CAPITAL & Asset Board (CAB)
December - Cabinet Member decision on full budget

2020

Spring Term Place contract & Start on site
 

2021

Jul / Aug Completion & FF&E and ICT fit-out
Sep Proposed Opening