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Willmott Dixon Embraces Innovative Approach In Birmingham

Willmott Dixon has collaborated with Offsite Solutions, a bathroom pod manufacturer, to maximise the time, cost, quality and sustainability benefits of offsite manufacturing during the build of its two plots worth £78m, as part of the wider £500m Perry Barr Residential Scheme.

The development, commissioned by Lendlease on behalf of Birmingham City Council, will see Willmott Dixon create 430 apartments in the dual four to six-storey blocks, on the site of the former Birmingham City University campus. The two apartment blocks will make up a crucial part of the Perry Barr Regeneration Scheme’s plan to deliver 1,400 much-needed homes for north-west Birmingham – the apartments will be made available for rent and sale, with homes being occupied in 2023.

Working in collaboration, the contractor and offsite manufacturer are completing two contracts totalling £3.5m, to supply 692 steel-framed bathroom and en-suite shower pods. The use of innovative offsite manufacturing not only provides programme certainty and increases quality due to factory conditions, but also increases time efficiency by 30%.

Dan Doyle, operations director at Willmott Dixon, said:  “The recently launched Construction Playbook has put standardisation and the use of modern methods of construction at the heart of public sector building progarmes to enable us to build ‘better, greener and smarter’, and that’s exactly what we’ve done on this scheme. The benefits of using offsite manufacturing during a project of this scale are unmatched. In one day, we can install approximately 20 pods. Traditionally this would involve a number of trades across several weeks. For our customers, this means additional project certainty and added programme benefits, along with assured quality. The benefits don’t stop there. The use of the pods helps to reduce the project’s carbon footprint while also supporting the compliance of Covid-19 safety guidance on-site.”

“This project also features a lightweight steel frame and a unique brick-like Corium cladding – both of which further demonstrate our use of offsite manufacturing techniques to support with time and cost efficiencies for our customer, while also adapting to ensure our workforce remained safe on-site during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The bathroom pods feature contemporary grey floor and wall tiles, a wall-mounted D-shaped hand basin, heated towel rail and a bath with a hand-held shower on a sliding rail. The shower rooms are fitted out with a hand-held rain shower, a large shower tray and sliding glass door, with an accompanying single bar towel rail adjacent to the shower or bath.

James Stephens, managing director of Offsite Solutions, said, “We are very pleased to be working with Willmott Dixon on a project that will provide much-needed homes for local people. The use of bathroom pods will improve the programme by maximising work offsite. By moving the fitout of bathrooms into a factory setting, we offer much greater certainty of completion on time, on budget and consistency of quality.”

These dual housing blocks, designed by Corstorphine & Wright, were designed to be part of wider residential development that will create new activity and vibrancy for the area whilst providing much-needed housing provision. The steel-framed bathroom pods in these blocks support the ambitions of the design, offering a premium aesthetic with traditional porcelain wall and floor tiling and a high-quality finish.

Anna Evans, project director at Lendlease, said: “We’re pleased to see the innovative use of bathroom pods at Perry Barr. This is another excellent example of the work taking place to ensure this development will be completed efficiently, safely and sustainably.”

Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council said: “We have an urgent need for new and high-quality housing in this city. The Perry Barr Residential Scheme is making a significant contribution to meeting this demand – so it is really pleasing to see the innovative approach being used to equip the homes on these plots with excellent facilities.”

“The completion of the bathrooms for these homes represents another significant milestone for the wider regeneration of Perry Barr.”

As part of Willmott Dixon’s commitment to leaving a legacy in the local community, working in collaboration with Lendlease and other contractors on the Scheme, the business will be contributing towards delivering a wide range of community and economic activities that will benefit local people both during the development and in the future. These benefits include supporting community projects and engaging with local schools as well as the creation of 400 new jobs – 50 of which will be apprenticeships.

Contractors operating on the Perry Barr Residential Scheme will be working in collaboration to support 1,000 pre-employment training places and contributing towards hosting 10,500 work experience hours during the development. The contractors’ support of the local community will also see them working in collaboration with Birmingham City Council’s employment access team to promote jobs and training opportunities through a variety of initiatives including the Construction Skills Hub and the Women in Construction programme.

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