Councils are clicking onto the website www.sunesisbuild.co.uk to choose from a range of pre-designed schools and leisure centres that halve the time of procuring a new building. Unlike normal retail though, getting things delivered more quickly does not come at a premium, in fact buying a Sunesis facility can reduce prices by up to 30 per cent compared to opting for a bespoke design.
The Sunesis website also allows councils to personalise their chosen school or leisure model in much the same way people choose the specification on a new car, adding in features like photovoltaic solar panels, green roofs and different cladding options.
Developed in collaboration by Willmott Dixon and local authority efficiency organisation framework Scape, the standardised design concept called Sunesis has already been bought by Warwickshire, Southampton, Isle of Wight and North Somerset councils as a cost efficient way of meeting the surge in demand for school places or replacing buildings that have long passed their shelf-life.
It comes as the Government this week announced a £1 billion capital investment in extending and creating new schools, as well as academies to help kick-start the economy and meet the demand for education in high quality environments.
Sunesis consists of four primary schools, one secondary school and three leisure centre designs that all have a set ‘ticket’ price and construction timescale to make squeezed public sector budgets stretch further in building new schools. To underline the modern concept, the www.sunesisbuild.co.uk website has been optimised to make choosing and buying Sunesis products as simple as possible. There is no "proceed to Checkout" tab, yet, but perhaps it is only a matter of time?
By opting for a pre-designed Sunesis school or leisure centre and procuring it through the Scape framework, which is at the forefront of driving down UK public sector building procurement costs, local authorities are saving time and cost as they don’t pay fees associated with legal issues, feasibility studies, design and time spent at planning and procurement meetings.
Oakfield Primary School in Rugby was the first Sunesis school to be completed, with Warwickshire County Council taking possession in October after it was built in a remarkable 32 weeks. It replaced a 1950s-built facility, with the original plan to extend it at a cost of around £2m switched to a Sunesis solution for £2.2m.
The Sunesis schools available on the website are:
The Sunesis range has recently been expanded with an Extra Care model currently in development with a consultation exercise being run at the LIN conference in London next week.
The procurement route – via Scape – means that Sunesis can be delivered at an unprecedented pace; for primary school options typically within eight months as opposed to a year, or even 18 months. Sunesis cuts out whole EU procurement rules because Scape has already been through that process in setting up the national framework which Sunesis is available through.