David Tomlin MCIOB
Kier Construction Regional Building Eastern
David Tomlin got this secondary school out of the ground and successfully delivered thanks to determination, hard work and enthusiasm. He overcame planning setbacks by winning supply chain buy-in to an accelerated programme. His innovative value-engineering included fully modelling the entire earthworks scheme in 3D, and solving the surface water issues with French drainage, deep boreholes and permeable paving. And he got past the big blows of two key contractors going into liquidation.
About the Project
Katherine Warington School, Harpenden
Construction of 1,150-pupil secondary school, completed in 76 weeks.
Client: Department for Education
Contract: JCT bespoke, design and build
David Tomlin got this secondary school project off the drawing board, out of the ground and through to completion thanks to determination, hard work, flexibility of approach and enthusiasm.
The bitter opposition of a well-organised group of local residents, who used a Saxon burial ground and other finds in and around the site as an archaeological fig leaf, dragged planning consent out to judicial review. Although the scheme gained approval, 49 planning conditions were imposed, including a new 12-week archaeological investigation to be undertaken prior to site start.
With those 12 weeks pushing the earthworks cut and fill into winter, with knock-on effects for the construction, David reprogrammed again and laid out his goodwill capital to get the buy-in of the earthworks, groundworks and steelwork contractors to an accelerated programme. With their commitment to the cause, timescales were pulled back and project success sighted on the horizon.
Too good to be true? Of course. The steel contractor went into liquidation, threatening a further 12-week delay. David’s excellent relationships with the supply chain came good again, with one of them offering its advanced manufacturing facility for the steel, reducing the delay to eight weeks. Further reprogramming and works acceleration followed, only for the furnishings and fittings contractor to go into liquidation. David personally engaged with the liquidator to directly purchase all the materials, which were sitting in the contractor’s warehouse.
Amid the constant delay mitigation effort, David led an innovative value-engineering move by fully modelling the entire earthworks scheme in 3D so that all the spoil could be used elsewhere on the 47-acre site. He turned again to 3D modelling to mitigate the deep concerns with surface water drainage on a site with sizable slopes. David’s cost-effective solution incorporated a 600-metre French drainage solution at the bottom slopes of the sports pitches, deep boreholes under the pitches, and permeable paved areas and tarmac.