National contractor Stepnell is bolstering its reputation in the education sector across the South West, as the business works on its sixth school project in Dorset in the operating year.
Stepnell’s work across the multi-million-pound school projects, which include renovating buildings dating from the early 20th to the 21st Century, is contributing to the county’s upgrading programme and adding to an ever-growing portfolio of education building expertise.
Stepnell began their sixth project, a major renovation at Coombe House, on the outskirts of Shaftesbury in October 2021. Formerly St Mary’s School — a Roman Catholic day and boarding school for girls that was closed in July 2020 due to funding issues — the 165,000 square feet of mixed-use accommodation set within 55 acres was purchased by Dorset Council for £10m as part of the council’s five-year £145m capital programme. The project is due to complete in spring 2022.
Previously, three projects have been completed on behalf of Gillingham Primary School, Ferndown Upper School and Blandford Upper School, with Coombe House, Woodroffe School, and Corfe Hills School currently underway.
Corfe Hills School works are part of the efficiency estate programme and involve extensive remodelling and refurbishment of an existing year block. Provision of all new M&E Services, and IT Services. This also includes the provision of existing services to the remainder of the school at all times whilst implementing all new M&E and IT services. Provision of new classrooms, new windows and doors and associated ventilation. Formation of new IC’S and assistance with the decant of a number of classrooms. All works are taking place in a live school environment with works in close proximity to occupied classrooms.
The project at Ferndown comprised of alterations to classrooms through new stud partitions, suspended ceilings and new flooring. At Blandford Upper, new ceilings, toilets and shower cubicles formed part of the refurbishment of the changing rooms. Remedial fire stopping works and fire doors were implemented between compartments to the roof void of block four. Furthermore, fire stopping measures were installed between the stairwells in block H and the adjoining class and storerooms.
Rob Speirs, Regional Managing Director of Stepnell, said: “Working within live sites in educational settings poses unique challenges but we are delighted to have been able to safely and efficiently complete works around the opening requirements of the school. The result is an enhanced space for high-quality education via the remodelled year block and existing school areas.”
Rob added: “We were thrilled to have secured the redevelopment project for Coombe House, which will be pivotal in increasing the accessibility to high quality SEND institutions in Dorset.
“Alongside our completed projects at Ferndown Upper School and Blandford Upper School, each development has shown Stepnell’s capability to form strong collaborations — including with Dorset Council and architects Kendall Kingscott. Our works in the region are helping to enable more resilient communities in a county where parents are desperate for their children to be educated to a high quality and meet their needs closer to home.”