BMet Transformation Project

Fellows have a long association with Birmingham Metropolitan College, having successfully completed several projects around the various College campuses. The latest project in this list is the College Transformation Project. This is a wide-ranging improvement project across three different campuses: Matthew Boulton, James Watt, and Sutton Coldfield.

Setting the Scene:

In 2020, the college received condition survey information through the FECDC programme. This was backed up by a detailed Planned Maintenance Plan. The survey covered three of the college sites, Matthew Boulton, Sutton Coldfield, and James Watt. After a large rationalisation programme that reduced the College’s estate from 16 to 4 sites, these three sites remained key priorities. Generally, the work required included replacing and insulating roof coverings, eliminating leaks from roof lights, replacement of leaking single-glazed windows, repairs to concrete window surrounds, refurbishment of toilet areas, electrical remedial and improvement works, replacement of heating distribution pipework, pumps, valves, and controls. Many existing ceilings are repaired or replaced, together with new energy-efficient LED lights. Floor finishes were also addressed where necessary.

The scheme largely forms part of the College’s Estates Strategy, and the College was successful with a bid to the Department for Education Further Education Capital Transformation Fund (FECTF).

The outcome of the project is to ensure that the College’s buildings are at condition Grade B and fit for purpose for the coming years.

Embracing Challenges:

Every project comes with its own unique set of challenges, and this was no exception. One of the most significant challenges was the underlying nature of the project being a wide-ranging scheme, spread across multiple buildings over three distinct operational sites. There were also two separate contractors leading work, one on Building Works and one on MEP work. All this made for complex arrangements around coordination, funding, payments, cashflows, etc.

With any significant project in buildings of this nature and age, there was always expected to be the possibility of discovering asbestos. Generally, the discoveries have been minor and could be managed without too much impact on the College or the project. However, one area of unexpected asbestos was in the surrounds of the windows of one particular elevation at one of the sites. These windows need to be changed and the work has been deferred until 2024 which gives more time to plan for the safe and efficient removal of the asbestos. The key consideration throughout has of course been to ensure the safety of staff, students, and visitors at all times.

Construction work in and around operational education buildings is always difficult. The Contractors, College, and Fellows have worked closely together to plan each phase of the work and make sure that College operations were not disrupted and that the highest levels of health & safety were maintained.

As the overall scheme moves forward to tackle the third site, new challenges arise. Amongst these is the need to obtain Planning Permission for the upgrade in windows. The new windows will make a significant positive contribution to reducing carbon emissions from the college, improve the internal conditions, and provide an aesthetic improvement to the buildings. This will involve Fellows working with the Contractor to plan for the window change in almost every room of the College, whilst maintaining the operation of the College.

Fellows collaborated closely with our client and devised strategies to overcome each obstacle.

Collaborative Excellence:

At Fellows, collaboration is at the heart of everything we do. The success of the Transformation Project is a result of seamless collaboration between Fellows and the College. Because we understand the education sector, and education clients in particular, we can offer services that directly support and complement our clients. Amongst our staff are highly skilled experts with many years’ experience of working within education client organisations at a very senior level.

Working closely with the services engineers at The Engineering Partnership and contractors McCarthy Associates and Envirotech Limited the project has been a truly collaborative experience.

Impact on the College:

The impact of the Transformation Project has been far-reaching and by definition, transformative. The scheme has provided refreshed spaces that work better for the College, that provide better facilities for students and staff and that reflect a high-quality 21st Century Further Education facility. The project has also reduced carbon emissions for the College.

These results not only met but exceeded our client’s expectations, and we are confident that the positive effects will continue to be felt across the College.

Each team member’s passion, expertise, and unwavering commitment have been instrumental in achieving success so far. I also want to extend my thanks to our clients and partners for their trust and collaboration. Together, we have proven that great things happen when talented individuals and organizations come together with a shared vision and work together to deliver successful outcomes.

Looking Ahead:

As we celebrate the ongoing success of the Transformation Project, we are not resting on our laurels. This project has fueled our determination to continue pushing boundaries, exploring new horizons, and making a positive impact. We are excited about the future and the opportunities that lie ahead, and we remain committed to delivering excellence in all our endeavours.

The Transformation Project has been an extremely positive journey for us at Fellows. It has reinforced our belief in the power of collaboration and the importance of really understanding our client’s needs.