Willmott Dixon and Scape’s plan to reduce the cost of new schools by up to 30 per cent took a major step forward after Warwickshire County Council become the first local authority to purchase one of their new standardised designs.

The two organisations launched a standardised product range last year under the brand of Sunesis to meet the Government’s ‘more for less’ agenda. Sunesis delivers pre-designed primary and secondary schools at a fixed price and aims to achieve a cost per pupil of £8,500 - £10,000 against a typical school cost per pupil range of £15,000 - £20,000.

Warwickshire has now given the go-ahead to use a Sunesis school to create extra capacity at Oakfield Primary School in Rugby. They selected the Keynes model from the Sunesis range at £2.2m, adding in optional extras of internal sliding wall, play equipment and tensile canopy alongside free furniture.

Sunesis is the perfect solution for Oakfield Primary School, which was built in the 1950s and now in need of expansion owing to demand. It’s an efficient way of helping the school expand as the Keynes model price meant the school could have an entire new building instead of adding a smaller extension. Another benefit is time, as from date of inquiry in July last year through to completion in September, the council will save 26 weeks compared to a tradition model of designing a bespoke school and tendering for a contractor.

By procuring a pre-designed Sunesis school through Scape, a local authority controlled company at the forefront of driving down UK public sector building procurement costs, Warwickshire has reduced procurement time and fees associated with legal issues, feasibility studies, design and time spent at planning and procurement meetings. The fast track construction time sees Willmott Dixon start on site this month and complete the project for the new school year.

Cllr Colin Hayfield, portfolio holder for customers, access and physical assets for Warwickshire County Council said, “Sunesis will deliver all the accommodation we need and more. The value for money is comparable - if not better than our other projects - but the big advantage is speed. There's no other product that can deliver a fully designed school to meet the fast track programme we need.”

Mark Robinson, chief executive officer of Scape, explained: “Cost certainty in the challenging financial climate is a critical factor for local authorities in delivering quality buildings within limited budgets. Through Sunesis, we’ve cut out a huge amount of waste so that projects can be delivered quickly and very competitively. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Willmott Dixon and Warwickshire to get this first Sunesis project off the ground.”

The full Sunesis range of standardised schools are the Keynes, Newton, Paxton and Dewey, aimed at primary schools, and the Mondrian for secondary schools. Each model can be viewed on the website www.sunesis-build.co.uk, allowing the procurer to see a model’s standard price and the optional extras they might require.

Peter Owen, managing director for Willmott Dixon in the Midlands and its sector leader for education said, “This is a tremendous moment in the delivery of a new generation of efficient schools that provide an excellent learning environment but at significantly lower cost.

“This is about Willmott Dixon and Scape providing a real solution to councils who want their budgets, already under much pressure, to go even further for what they spend.”

Several other councils have expressed an interest in using Sunesis, with a potential £100m of projects in the pipeline.