Posted: Wed 7th Dec 2022

Construction firm chosen to build multi-million-pound ‘first of a kind’ school development in Flintshire

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Dec 7th, 2022

One of the UK’s largest family-owned construction companies has been chosen to build a multi-million-pound ‘first of a kind’ school development in Flintshire.

Scottish firm Robertson Construction, which has a North West base in Newton-le-Willows, is set to build the Mynydd Isa Campus, which is expected to be completed in early November 2024.

The Mynydd Isa Campus will be the first school in Wales developed through the Welsh Education Partnership Company (WEPco).

The new two-storey Campus, to be built on the site of existing Argoed High School, will provide a 3 to 16 educational programme for Flintshire.

The primary and high school will remain as separate schools operating from a single building with some shared facilities.

Outdoor facilities are intended to meet the needs of nursery, primary and high school pupils which will have 43, 600 and 700 places respectively, with both the primary and high schools having specially resourced provision facilities for speech and language, and the high school will further benefit from a 20 place Social Communication resourced provision.

The project is expected to have a heavy focus on sustainability, with the aim of delivering a net zero carbon building.

Both the construction and operational phases of work will also prioritise benefits and opportunities for the local community, with apprenticeships being provided to a number of young people as part of the programme.

Works to deliver the Campus are already underway.

WEPco

WEPco is a joint venture between the Development Bank of Wales (Welsh Government) and Paris-based global investor Meridiam to design, build, finance, operate and maintain education infrastructure in Wales over 25 years.

It will utilise the Welsh Government’s Mutual Investment Model which sees private firms contracted to build and maintain public assets.

Aviva Investors, the global asset management business of Aviva plc, is providing all senior debt financing towards the construction of the campus.

The Mutual Investment Model (MIM) was created as an alternative to controversial private finance initiative (PFI) deals, it will require the council to pay an annual charge similar to a rent payment for a period of 25 years.

Earlier this year independent Flintshire councillor Richard Jones said he was “not convinced it is particularly good value for money for Flintshire or Wales.”

“In terms of the total cost this project, it’s my understanding it will be in excess of £169m overall over the 25 years.”

Cllr Jones expressed concerns that Flintshire was being used as a “guinea pig” for the new funding model.

But council officials have repeatedly dismissed comparisons between MIM and PFIs, which were abolished by the UK Government in 2018 for failing to deliver value for money.

Despite the concerns, the scheme was backed by the majority of Flintshire cabinet members.

Flintshire’s Leader and Cabinet Member for Education and Youth, Councillor Ian Roberts, said: “This much needed modernisation of the school and the new build will be of a high standard and will provide modern, first-class facilities and the best learning opportunities for our children.

“The Council remains committed to investing in the future of our children and young people. We continue to work to provide a high-quality sustainable education for all our learners.  It’s great to see the building of this exciting project moving forward.”

Elliot Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Robertson Group, said: “Our Construction North West and Facilities Management teams have been working tirelessly with WEPCo to reach financial close and activity on the site will begin in earnest in the coming weeks.”

“Throughout the build, we will also be working closely with the local community to deliver added social value which will benefit Flintshire and its residents during the build and post completion.”

“As a business we have been working hard to reduce our environmental impacts across all of our operations and we will be doing all that we can to reduce and limit embodied cardon during construction.”

Christian Stanbury, Chief Executive Officer, WEPCo, commented: “This is the first WEPCo project to reach financial close and to commence on site.”

“This project will set a benchmark for the future delivery of education facilities in Wales and is set to bring more than just academic attainment to Flintshire.”

Cllr Hilary McGuill, local ward member, said: “The new Argoed campus will secure a first-class environment to deliver education to children from Mynydd Isa, Bryn y Baal New Brighton and surrounding villages for 50 years to come.”

Darryl Murphy, Managing Director, Infrastructure, at Aviva Investors, said: “We are delighted to complete this investment on a social infrastructure project which we think carries a great deal of importance – not only in providing improved access to first-class education facilities, but that also incorporates a great deal of sustainability-led thinking in its construction.”

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, said: “As the first WEPCo project to reach financial close and to commence on site, I am pleased that the Mynydd Isa Campus will support many pupils with high quality facilities. It is fantastic to see this sustainable project, with the needs of pupils at its heart.”

The new Campus is scheduled to be ready for occupation early November 2024, with demolition of the old high school and formation of the new games’ pitches completed by September 2025.

 

 

 

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