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posted: 20th Oct 2015

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has awarded what is believed to be the largest ever off-site contract in the education sector, to the Portakabin Group – a £44 million project to deliver an innovative three-school campus.

The 23,000sqm Riverside Schools scheme is one of the largest school projects now under construction and will provide additional places for one of the fastest-growing school-age populations in the UK. 

The campus will have capacity for around 2,700 children from 0-19 – integrating provision for nursery, primary, special needs, secondary, and sixth form. 

The Portakabin Group is main contractor for this pioneering project. The contract has been awarded by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD) via the Council’s local education partnership (LEP), Thames Partnership for Learning.  The project is procured by LBBD and funded by the Education Funding Agency (EFA).  The architects are Surface to Air and the three free schools on the campus will be operated by the multi-academy trust, Partnership Learning.

Constructed using a Yorkon off-site solution for the curriculum areas, the scheme will accommodate a 10-form entry secondary school, a 630-place primary school, a special educational needs (SEN) school, and a nursery.  It will also offer extended provision outside school hours and for wider use at weekends and in school holidays to contribute to the local community.

Commenting on the project, Roger Leighton, Chief Executive of the multi-academy trust, Partnership Learning, said, “We have had a very good first-hand experience of the Portakabin Group’s off-site solutions as our schools currently occupy two earlier phases on a site near the planned Riverside Schools campus.  We have been really impressed with the quality of the finished buildings, the speed of construction, and just how far off-site technology has now advanced.

“The Portakabin Group makes good use of architectural design to the benefit of the users and to enhance the internal environment.  As an example, our strong preference is for 75sqm classrooms which are significantly larger than the 56sqm classrooms required by the Department for Education.  With careful design and planning, use of a Yorkon off-site solution gives us the flexibility to achieve this and for almost the same budget – which is a very key benefit.”

Simon Ambler, Director of the Portakabin Group, said, “We expect this project to change the face of off-site construction in the education sector.  It demonstrates really well how Yorkon building solutions can be used to meet the urgent provision of school places – and for a scheme of this scale and complexity.”

“It illustrates our capabilities as a main contractor, our flexibility to deliver part of the building at an earlier stage whilst remaining on site, and whilst working to an extremely tight programme.”

“We are absolutely delighted that this is our seventh project for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council which is further evidence of the quality of our buildings and the greater certainty and value our services can deliver.”

The use of off-site construction will significantly reduce the programme time. The project has been scheduled to complete the primary and SEN facilities at an earlier stage, in time for the start of the 2016/17 academic year to meet the urgent demand for places in the Borough. The rest of the campus will be completed late Spring 2017.

The Riverside Schools scheme is being developed in the Barking Riverside regeneration area, which is close to Barking town centre and part of the Thames Gateway development. Early phases of substantial housebuilding have already been completed with further plans for 12,000 new homes increasing the need for education provision.  The overall vision is for the creation of a vibrant new community with design-inspired public spaces and amenities.

For further information about Yorkon off-site building solutions from the Portakabin Group for primary and secondary education, call 0845 2000 123, email info@yorkon.co.uk or visit www.yorkon.info.