Baxall won the £10.2m design and build framework tender from Kent County Council (KCC) to deliver the impressive Southborough Hub, a modern, 2-storey mixed-use community facility for the residents of Southborough and High Brooms on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells in Kent.
The ground floor of the main Hub structure comprises a library, multi-use 350-maximum seating hall/theatre with stage storage, kitchen, toilets and storeroom. On the first floor are Southborough Town Council offices, community/meeting rooms, toilets, communications room and plant room in addition to a 4m-high balcony providing views of the hall/theatre space and stage area below.
Linked to the Hub via a dedicated public entrance is the 2-storey BREEAM ‘Excellent’ St. Andrew’s Medical Centre incorporating a pharmacy with direct access to the Medical Centre. At the rear of the site is a new, self-contained Sports Pavilion for Tunbridge Wells Youth Football Club and a large workshop/garage area to accommodate Southborough Town Council’s gardening maintenance team.
With KCC as the main client, the Southborough Hub scheme had numerous stakeholders namely Southborough Town Council, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, NHS and Tunbridge Wells Youth Football Club, all of whom had varying requirements.
Initially secured under a PCSA, early-stage engagement with all parties via meetings (including public consultations) and workshops enabled a collaborative approach to realising and successfully achieving all deliverables. With budget and programme challenges, Baxall worked collaboratively with KCC, stakeholder groups, the design team and supply chain partner specialists through Value Engineering workshops. A key element was a major redesign exercise to align the development with KCC’s budget and reduce the overall programme. Baxall’s preferred use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) facilitated a further collaborative design approach with multi-stakeholder and design team integration, clash detection and lessons learned shared.
Baxall proposed alternative off-site solutions to generate cost and time efficiencies while achieving the individual stakeholder deliverables within design (for example, room sizes) and effective operation. The team opted for a STREIF closed timber panel MMC solution for the main Hub building and Medical Centre, while the Sports Pavilion was constructed using Integra modular. The MMC solutions generated significant programme efficiencies compared to a traditional build – overall, around 18 weeks were saved against the original programme.
Using off-site meant fewer trades were required on site and less deliveries; this worked extremely well for the project as the landlocked site (bordered by the A26 main road into Tunbridge Wells and adjacent live housing development) was notably restricted with very limited storage capacity. Baxall’s ongoing commitment to CLOCS (Construction Logistics and Community Safety) standards was readily evidenced in the site’s impressive 26 out of 27 CLOCS score.
A notable innovation on this project was the proactive instigation of the A1FORSITE tracking system, whereby each site operative wore an identification tag on their hardhats to record their position on site; from this information, identification was swiftly established if operatives failed to comply with COVID-19 social distancing. The system also provided data for tracking and tracing purposes.
In line with Baxall’s commitment across all schemes for social value and supporting local communities, Southborough Community Hub provided an ideal platform for value such as local training, apprenticeships, employment, litter picking and initiatives at the nearby Southborough Primary School. When the pandemic hit, Baxall approached the school and offered to transform its outdated library and IT room into a dynamic learning space. Working collectively with local supply chain partners who freely donated time, materials and labour, the team handed over the ‘Discovery Centre’ complete with new library with 4,000+ new books and collaborative learning booths, to delighted staff and pupils.
Baxall proudly delivered the entire Southborough Community Hub – including St. Andrew’s Medial Centre – defect-free and on schedule, achieving a Considerate Constructors Score of 45 points and Certificate of Excellence. As testimony to the success of this impressive community project Baxall have also since won the contract to undertake Facilities Management across the entire Hub complex, including Medical Centre.