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Wet & Dry

Sports Complex



The Perse School Leisure Centre

New sports block for independent school also open to public

This project involves the design and construction of a new sports facility that will add a new 25m, six lane swimming pool, four court sports hall, and a climbing wall for the Perse School in Cambridge. Our works will also involve further enhancing the facilities of the school through landscaping and traffic calming to their access road.

During the design phase there was a change to the planning specification to include a community use agreement. We successfully altered the design to provide a ‘pay to play’ option, where the public/community can pay to use the facilities.

Given the volatility of the marketplace during the procurement period, and the requirement for specialist equipment within the new building, we placed early orders for key packages. This allowed us to secure the cost and safeguard the programme. Early orders were placed for the for groundworks, steel, pool filtration equipment and tiling.

We have ensured that the school’s calendar is considered in our programme. For example, we programmed our service connections during the school holiday periods to avoid disruption to the student experience.


We conducted an extensive value engineering exercise on this scheme to provide the Perse School with £400k worth of cost savings, whilst achieving their aspirations for a high-quality building.

We held a number of value engineering workshops where we would brainstorm ideas with the architect, the customer, and design consultants. We also used these meetings to present our options to the customer, using a ‘red, amber and green’ rating system for options. This allowed the customer to have full control over which ideas they wanted to progress with.


We made changes to the groundworks, repositioned the plant room and raised the building to lift it above the water table, safeguarding the programme and avoiding expensive dewatering whilst also reducing the volume of excavated material that needed to be reduced from site.

“The project is running smoothly and liaison between Willmott Dixon and the school, our neighbours, and also other contractors engaged on smaller schemes elsewhere on the school site, has been excellent.
Willmott Dixon have contributed positively to the design and have worked collaboratively with other professionals on the project team assembled by the School.
This is the first project Willmott Dixon have delivered at The Perse and based on experience to date I would have no hesitation in recommending them.” - Alison Shakespeare, Perse School
“They fully engaged with the Client-side team during the pre-construction phase to help drive down costs to meet budget whilst not compromising the Client and Design Teams’ vision.” - Robert Gurnham, Project Manager, AECOM