11 September 2013

Dartington C of E Primary School - Proposed Remedial Building Work

Report from the Head of Highways, Capital Development and Waste

Recommendation: that Cabinet note:

(a) the findings of intrusive building investigation works at Dartington C of E Primary School;

(b) the likely need to provide temporary accommodation on the school playing field to allow for repair or replacement of existing accommodation.

1. Summary

The replacement Dartington C of E Primary School was commissioned in 2008 following a Design Competition. The lead consultancy role was subsequently awarded to an external architectural practice with previous experience in designing school buildings incorporating material that involve low energy consumption in their production.

The new school was completed and occupied in December 2010. The design of the new school features four separate "clusters", constructed from cross laminated timber boards. The primary weather proofing material of the pitched roof areas is provided by sweet chestnut boards, and on the flat roofs via a single roof membrane.

Shortly after completion, evidence of water ingress became apparent and works have been on-going in an attempt to resolve the problem. Following a prolonged period of repair work, which had limited success, Devon County Council commissioned a technical specialist to undertake an intrusive investigation and report on the continuing water ingress problems.

2. Background

The technical specialist report highlights that the major cause of the on-going water ingress is likely to be the result of the scheme design. The report also highlighted complexities within the rainwater harvesting system and concern with the specified use of materials.

The report recommended action to mitigate the on-going damage to the building and the commissioning of a further specialist report relating to the floor/sub-floor voids.

Following the receipt of the technical specialists report and after taking legal advice, Devon County Council has put the design practice and its insurers on notice of a potential claim.

Acting on the recommendations from the original technical specialist Devon County Council subsequently commissioned a second technical specialist to undertake further investigations and report on the concerns highlighted within the original technical specialists report relating to the floor/ sub-floor voids. The second technical specialist report similarly highlighted concerns over the design and use of materials.

Following the receipt of the second technical specialists report and after taking legal advice Devon County Council has again put the design practice and its insurers on notice of a potential claim.

3. Proposal

Both technical specialist reports recommended action to commence remedial work to stop the buildings degrading further. As a consequence Devon County Council has appointed a new design consultant to produce an options appraisal. DCC has also appointed a contractor in preparation for undertaking the repair or replacement of the affected buildings.

At the time of writing this report the drafting of the options appraisal and the execution of urgent summer holiday structural repairs at the school are currently underway.

Dependent upon the outcome of the options appraisal, the further works required to repair or replace the affected accommodation will be significant and will be disruptive to the running of the school.

It is likely that some pupils will need to be moved into temporary accommodation, as works cannot be undertaken with pupils or staff in occupation of the affected buildings whilst repair work is underway. Depending on the outcome of the option appraisals and the phasing plan for the works, a partial or whole school decant may be needed. An initial construction programme of between 14 & 24 months is anticipated.

4. Timescale



Emergency Summer Works

August 2013

Establish temporary accommodation

September 2013 December 2013

Detailed Design Work

June 2013- December 2013

Tender Period

October 2013

Major Repair/Replacement Works Commence

Spring 2014

5. Finance Considerations

An initial allocation of two hundred and fifty thousand pounds has been allowed for the urgent investigation and structural repairs at the school.

Until the outcome of the options appraisal is known it is not possible to quantify with any certainty the further funding requirements for resolving all of the structural problems at the school.

A claim for costs against the original designer will be pursued, but the outcome and timing of any action is unknown at this time.

6. Equality Considerations

The commencement of urgent remedial work including relocation of part of the school to temporary accommodation is in order to allow the school to continue to provide education and social opportunities for children and young people, as well as the wider community.

7. Legal Considerations

The technical reports referred to above have been obtained in contemplation of litigation. In addition specialist legal advice has been sought in respect to a proposed claim against the original designer for the recovery of costs associated with the remedial building work and associated costs and expenses.

8. Risk Management

This proposal represents a significant political and reputational risk to Devon County Council requiring regular review and reporting to Cabinet.

9. Public Health Impact

The rapid deterioration of the building fabric if left unchecked may have a detrimental effect to the health and well-being of the children, staff and occupants of the school, as well as leading to the schools closure.

10. Reason for Recommendation

This proposal is to ensure the long-term health and safety of the children staff and occupants of the school.

David Whitton

Head of Highways, Capital Development and Waste

Electoral Division: South Brent & Dartington

Cabinet Member for Resources and Asset Management: Councillor John Clatworthy

Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Skills: Councillor William Mumford

Strategic Director, Place: Heather Barnes

Local Government Act 1972: List of Background Papers

Contact for enquiries: Chris Dyer

Room No: Matford Lane Offices, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter

Tel No: (01392) 382531

Background Paper


File Ref.



hk/cr/dartington school proposed remedial building works

03 hq 020913

Date Published: Mon Sep 02 2013