We would like to take a moment to say that we hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you to everyone who has worked with us and supported us during 2021. Please do take a look at some of our highlights from this year on our timeline!

We are closed from 24th December 2021 to 4th January 2022.

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Progress in the construction of Stowmarket’s newest primary school has been celebrated with a ‘Topping Out’ ceremony, with the building now reaching its highest point.

Representatives from Orwell Multi-Academy trust (OMAT), Suffolk County Council, designers Concertus and builders R G Carter were joined by local Councillors to mark the major development milestone at what is set to become Grace Cook Primary School and Nursery, in the town’s Northfield View development.

The school, which has been named after pioneering local Astronomer Alice Grace Cook, will accommodate 210 primary school pupils and a further 60 pre-school pupils in new, state-of the-art education facilities when it welcomes its first pupils in September next year.

James Wilson, Director and General Manager at R G Carter said: “We are delighted to be working on this project and pleased to be celebrating such a key moment in the development of this brilliant community building. Grace Cook Primary School and Nursery is going to be a fantastic facility for the people of Stowmarket and will support the town’s growing population for many years to come.”

Construction of the school is being funded through Suffolk County Council’s capital programme and will be run by OMAT.

Anna Hennell James, CEO of OMAT, said: “It has been wonderful to watch the building grow so quickly over recent months. It is fantastic to now be another step closer to Grace Cook Primary School being ready to open in September 2022”.

Charles Coulson, Associate Director from designers and project managers Concertus said: “The new Grace Cook Primary and Pre-School will provide a modern, fit for purpose learning environment for local children, as well as helping to ease pressure on local schools due to the expansion of housing in the area. Our design is focused on representing the school’s surroundings within the colour choices and fabric of the building and creating a central community hub which will be both unique and aesthetically pleasing.”

With below-ground masonry work now complete and the school’s ground floor concrete slab poured, above-ground works are continuing to make the structure watertight.

CREDIT: R G Carter

Staff and students at Chantry Academy put on their site gear and PPE and picked up a spade to help signal the start of work on a major extension to their school in Ipswich. The project at the academy, which is part of The Active Learning Trust, is being carried out to meet growing demand for secondary places in the local area.

On behalf of Suffolk County Council and Concertus Design and Property Consultants, Morgan Sindall is carrying out all construction work. Phase one of the project includes building a brand-new single storey special educational needs and disability (SEND) block. Phase two includes the creation of a two-storey block, compromising of 11 classrooms and a library.
Works has now started at the site on Mallard Way and is expected to be complete by the end of June 2022.

Craig D’Cunha, Executive Principal at Chantry Academy, said: “We are delighted that the building work to extend our school has started. The design and facilities are fantastic and will provide significant benefits to our current and future students along with the wider Ipswich community. At Chantry Academy we want every child to be successful and believe there should be no barriers when it comes to learning. The new expansion work will undoubtedly help achieve this, and ensure our students can become active, confident, and responsible citizens within society.”

The project is set to expand the school from 900 places to 1,050 places and provide an additional 18 places in the SEND unit.

Charles Coulson, Associate Director at Concertus, said: “We are pleased to be working with Morgan Sindall for Suffolk County Council on the expansion and the new SEND unit at Chantry Academy. The expansion along with the specialist teaching block will provide high quality learning environment for the children. We look forward to seeing the project progress”.

Commenting on Phase one of the project, Rachel Hood, Cabinet Member for Education, SEND and Skills at Suffolk County Council, said: “It is wonderful to see the progress being made at the new SEND unit. It will make such a different to young people at the school. I am committed to increasing the number of SEND placements in Suffolk and ensuring that we provide the very best education for all of our children and young people.”

The new expansion work supports The Active Learning Trust’s ongoing commitment to education in Ipswich. Earlier in the year, the Trust was granted planning permission for a 2-Form Entry (420-place) Primary School and (26-place) Nursery, at Carr Street, Ipswich.
The proposals were jointly consulted on behalf of The Active Learning Trust, the Department for Education, and Morgan Sindall Construction. The new school, designed by Concertus is due to be open in September 2023.

To find out more about Chantry Academy, visit: www.chantryacademy.org
Learn about The Active Learning Trust, visit: www.activelearningtrust.org
Media contact: Tom Evans; tom@athene-communications.co.uk

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Held on the 11th November at the site of the future St Luke’s Park Primary School and Nursery, the ceremony was hosted by Morgan Sindall Construction, which is the main contractor on the project, and was attended by Essex County Councillors Tony Ball and Ian Grundy.

Morgan Sindall Construction’s Essex business has been appointed to deliver the £5.5m scheme under the current Essex County Council Framework (ECF2). The project team, together with Concertus Design and Property Consultants, have taken the project from feasibility and planning to the project commencing on site. The Eveleigh LINK Academy Trust has been appointed to manage the primary school section of the site.

Built on the former Runwell Hospital site in St Luke’s Way and due to open in September 2022, the one form school will provide 210 primary and 56 nursery places for families in the new 575-home St Luke’s Park development. Peter Whitmore, Managing Director for Morgan Sindall Construction’s East region, said:

“We’re excited to be hosting this ground breaking ceremony, which signals an important step in not just the creation of a new educational facility but also in the evolution of the Runwell community. Demand for both school and early years and childcare places in the Chelmsford district has risen significantly and St Luke’s Park Primary School and Nursery will play a key role in meeting this requirement with a high-quality learning environment. At Morgan Sindall Construction we have a lot of experience in delivering first-class schools that enrich the local area and we’ve applied this expertise to this project to ensure that it supports the area’s families and their children for generations to come. We’re looking forward to working closely with Essex County Council, our site neighbours and the whole project team as we move forward with the delivery of Runwell’s brand new school.”

Tony Ball, Essex County Councillor, said: “The building of St Luke’s Park Primary school and nursery will be invaluable to the local community in Runwell and will create more high quality school and nursery places locally through these new state-of-the-art facilities. I was delighted to attend the ground breaking ceremony at the site and I look forward to taking a tour around the new school once it is complete.”

The Trustees of The Eveleigh LINK Academy Trust (TELAT) have warmly received the announcement from the Dept. of Education’s Regional Schools Commissioner that following a successful presentation in June that The Eveleigh Link Academy Trust has been awarded the sponsorship of a new primary school on the St. Luke’s Park Development at Runwell near Wickford in Essex. Mr Joe Figg, TELAT’s Chief Executive Officer, commented:

“We made a very strong case to the selection panel and are absolutely delighted at the outcome. It’s a perfect fit for our ambitions and capacity to grow the number of schools under the already successful TELAT umbrella! We will deliver on our promises and have pledged to work in close partnership with the local community and all interested stakeholders”.

The one-form entry school will include state-of-the-art teaching facilities in both the primary and nursery sections of the site as well as sports pitches and external hard play areas. The project’s design incorporates architectural features into the buildings and soft landscaping that mirrors the nearby historic chapel and the wider St Luke’s Park development. This includes a masonry façade that matches the neighbouring buildings and an aluminium PPC protrusion that complements the chapel will delineate the main pupil entrance. The school’s soft and hard landscaping will align with the existing communal space and contain similar elements such as gabion features and resin paving.

 

For more information about this news release please contact Daniel Ash at Influential on 07788 260 546 or email ash@thisisinfluential.com

A ground-breaking event took place today, Monday 15th November, to celebrate a new £13million development that will see a new older persons home built in Leighton Buzzard.

Marigold House is the first, in a number of older persons accommodation that will be built by the council in the next few years and will be used to replace existing outdated homes. The 63-bedroom care home has been designed by Concertus Design & Property Consultants and improves on traditional buildings of this nature, using a combination of sustainable design solutions focusing on Passivhaus with air source heat pumps as the main heating source.

Alongside the main contractor, Farrans, the landmark occasion was celebrated by Cllr. Brian Saunders Central Bedfordshire Council’s Chairman doing the honours with a spade to symbolically break ground. Several residents from Westlands Care Home were also in attendance to see the event. Visitors, VIPs and residents from Westlands Care Home were then able to view an exhibition of the proposed building.

Cllr Ghent Executive Member for Housing and Assets said: “This is a truly momentous day as we celebrate the start of the build on site for our new state-of-the-art care home in Leighton Buzzard, recently named Marigold House. The name was chosen by the staff and residents of Westlands Care Home the residents of which, will have the opportunity to move to the new home when it is complete.”

“This is the first care home Central Bedfordshire Council have built and it is planned to be built to Passivhaus standards making it a super energy efficient home with outstanding eco credentials.”

“Our Care is Central employees that will work here, together with Marigold House’s residents, will both reap the benefits from living and working in one of the healthiest types of building it is possible to build and, and which is also environmentally friendly.”

Cllr Hegley Executive Member for Adults Social Care said: “The major investment of over £13m in this development is a testament to the council’s commitment to tackling the challenges of providing outstanding accommodation, care and support for our growing population of older people. The facilities at Marigold House will sit alongside the independent living scheme the council is delivering to form a range of provision that can meet the accommodation and care needs of all our older citizens. As part of this, care homes have a critical role to play in providing a place where people can exercise their independence and receive the care, they need to lead fulfilled lives.”

“The residents of Westlands that choose to live at Marigold House are a generation that have witnessed the most momentous changes throughout their long lives and they will now benefit from the newest technology, wonderful spaces inside and out and the best of care.”

“The residents of Westlands that choose to live at Marigold House are a generation that have witnessed the most momentous changes throughout their long lives and they will now benefit from the newest technology, wonderful spaces inside and out and the best of care.”

Regional Director, Cathal Montague, Farrans said “Today’s ground-breaking marks an exciting step forward in this important project for Central Bedfordshire Council. Our team has been here for four weeks preparing the site and we are looking forward to delivering a top quality, modern residential care facility for the people of this area. The construction will be to the highest sustainable standards using Passivhaus criteria to deliver an energy efficient building. This is a very important region for our business and, we are committed to working alongside local stakeholders to bring added social value to the area through apprenticeships and local procurement.”

You can get a feel for what the care home will look like when complete, from this CGI fly-through video showing a vision of the inside and what the building and accommodation will look like when built.

During our recent health and wellbeing day over 20 employees in our Ipswich and Matlock offices packed food bags to donate to our chosen charities – FIND – Families in Need and Chesterfield Foodbank. Over 100 bags were filled with necessary items for over 100 families!

We regularly liaise with the charities we have selected to support this year to ensure we are providing the food they need. As we enter the colder months, we are making sure we understand exactly which vital items the families need throughout these challenging times.

A decision was made earlier this year to incorporate at least one parcel packing session into each of our health and wellbeing days to help our charities throughout the year. As a result of our recent food drives, our employees have reported how they have experienced an increased level of happiness and wellbeing when they have joined together to support our local communities. In addition to Concertus providing over 1000 items to pack on our recent health and wellbeing day, our employees have been very generous with their own donations. We delivered over 80 items on our last trip! Both of our offices have permanent food banks in the Reception areas, which soon become full to the brim!

We are committed to supporting our local communities within the East of England and the East Midlands. Our team are looking forward to continuing supporting our charities and helping to make a significant impact for those in need.

Roisin Williams-O’Gorman, Deputy Project Coordinator, said:

“Concertus Design & Property Consultants have provided Chesterfield Foodbank with valued support during an incredibly difficult time. Since the start of the pandemic we have fed over 9000 people with sadly a quarter of those being children. With numbers continuing to rise month on month donations have been needed now more than ever so that we can continue to support local people in crisis. This is why Concertus’ support has been invaluable. They have done a number of different fundraisers and food drives for us, most recently providing 40 bags of food, which would each feed one person for three days! In total this year Concertus has provided 300 kg of food. This support makes a real difference to people’s lives and helps us to try and make sure that no one goes hungry in our local community”.

Area Bishop of Colchester, the Right Reverend Roger Morris, visited Lawford Church of England Primary School today, to bless and officially open its new extension.

Commissioned by Essex County Council, Barnes Construction built the new two-storey classroom block which has enabled the school to double its pupil capacity by 210 to 420.

Concertus Design and Property Consultants were appointed by Barnes as the architect, structural engineer, and M&E consultant for the scheme, and Pick Everard was the client’s project manager and quantity surveyor. Now construction is complete, there are an additional eight classrooms, a library, as well as several offices and specialist practical areas. The school also has a new outside Multi-Use Games Area.

The bishop gathered with headteacher Abbie Fairbairn, school governors, members of the school council and the construction team, at the new school entrance. He then took time to take a tour of the school, blessing the rooms, meeting the children and joining with them in collective worship. Ms Fairbairn is delighted with the result and said:

“This extension to our school offers our pupils new facilities, including a technical classroom and a studio, in a wonderfully spacious environment for learning. I am grateful to the team from Essex County Council, especially Christina Halls, who has led the project and ensured that the building is fit for education into the future. We are delighted that as our Church of England school expands, Bishop Roger has been able to join with us today to bless the building and lead our school community in collective worship. It has truly been a day that everyone will remember.”

Mark Bailey, Director for Barnes Construction said: “We are delighted to have played a part in providing much needed extra school places for the young people in Lawford.”

With sustainability in mind, the new classroom block has been built using modern methods of construction. The timber roof cassettes, SIPS (Structurally Insulated Panels System) and precast concrete floors and stairs were all manufactured offsite before being delivered to site complete for erection.

We are pleased to reveal that our Mildenhall Hub project has been selected as a 2022 Regional Finalist in the Civic Trust Awards. These awards celebrate excellence in the built environment and encourage the very best in architecture through design and sustainability. They also recognise projects which make a positive impact on the local community.

The project replaced outdated facilities with a modern, multi-million community hub which combines education, health, leisure, Blue Light, and community facilities under one roof. Our team’s collaborative approach was key to the success of the innovative development which brings together an academy, pre-school, leisure centre, public library, health centre, and offices for Suffolk Police, the NHS, central government, West Suffolk Council, and Suffolk County Council.

Mildenhall Hub’s energy efficient facilities serve the nearby residents and wider community of Mildenhall and the surrounding villages. A combination of renewable technologies such as PhotoVoltaic (PV) panels, Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP), Combined Heat and Power (CHP), and battery storage are reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.

This unique project has regenerated the area by supporting the growth of businesses, providing employment opportunities, and attracting people who are keen to use the fantastic facilities. We’re so proud of the team who delivered this national exemplar project and worked so hard to make our client’s vision a reality.

To find out more about Mildenhall Hub click here.

What is Net Zero?

The UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) definition states Net Zero is “when the amount of carbon emissions associated with a building’s product and construction stages up to practical completion is zero or negative.” Once a building is operational, UKGBC defines net zero carbon as “when the amount of carbon emissions associated with the building’s operational energy on an annual basis is zero or negative.”

What are our targets?

Our aim is to become Net Zero by 2030.

Britain has the following targets:
• 68% reduction of emissions by 2030
• 78% reduction of emissions by 2035
• Net Zero emissions by 2050

Sir David Attenborough is backing the government’s Net Zero goal of 2050 and has emphasised the balance of radical action and what is achievable. He is also pushing for further investment in the storage and transportation of renewable energy.

Working within the built environment, we will continuously be adapting to change and trying to mitigate the impact our projects and office buildings have. Good progress has been made to date and we will continue to monitor our progress as we continue our journey to Net Zero.

 

What are we doing as a business?

Our growing steering group have been holding monthly meetings which focus on Net Zero (one of our Top 10 Fitness Goals). The steering group have been aligning our professional services to develop conversations with clients around their aspirations and working towards delivering them. Project teams show a passion for reducing our carbon footprint whilst delivering sustainably built environments. Adopting the approach of Fabric First, we recommend environmentally friendly and sustainable materials to our clients.

Our teams continuously strive to decarbonise design solutions and we are actively working with Suffolk County Council, Central Bedfordshire Council, and Derbyshire County Council to achieve their commitment to become Net Zero by 2030. We assisted the councils in their BREEAM strategy and decarbonisation grant application. Concertus’ website has been developed to align with Suffolk County Council’s ask for carbon neutral by 2030 and reflects the expanding services we offer.
We’re delivering two Passivhaus certified care homes – Hockliffe Road (one of the first registered Passivhaus care homes in the UK) and Steppingley Road (the largest registered Passivhaus care provision in the UK).
Accredited with ISO 14001, we develop policies and procedures to adhere to which aids our environmental awareness and contribution to reducing our impact on the environment.

 

What are we doing within our offices?

Our TM44 assessment measures our office buildings’ energy performance and sets environmental objectives for us to achieve. Each objective is placed on our tracker which monitors how and when we plan to achieve these objectives. We continue to reduce the negative impact our office buildings have by implementing practical solutions. Our carbon footprint and energy profile are reported to the Board on a quarterly basis.

Recycling
• We promote recycling and raise awareness regularly, with recycling bins and signage throughout our offices, internal communications sent to employees, and training.
• Employees are encouraged to use less single-use plastic. Each employee has been given a branded metal drinking bottle and reusable shopping bag.
• We work with our waste supplier to ensure all office waste is disposed of responsibly.

Travel
• We annually record how employees travel to work.
• A Green Travel Plan is strongly promoted, which includes substantial discounts for employees that use public transport.
• Employees are encouraged to pre-plan journeys and avoid unnecessary and excessive travel.
• We encourage employees to car share where possible and report quarterly on project visits to check car share opportunities have not been missed.
• The use of electric cars is supported with electric car chargers located within the office car park.
• Employees are encouraged to bike to work with a bike to work scheme incentive, support with national bike to workdays, office cycle storage, showers, and lockers.
• We monitor scope 1, 2, and 3 carbon emissions from our office building and employee mileage when visiting projects. This information is benchmarked to ensure we are performing within the industry standard.

Building Services
• Our office manual heating and air conditioning is only used when required.
• Air conditioning units in the office are serviced every 6 months.
• We use a supplier that has a renewable source of gas energy for our office.
• The office boilers are turned off in the summer months to save energy.
• We use a building management software. This software intelligently monitors the office thermometers and therefore will only heat or cool when necessary, ensuring we are controlling our energy usage.

Business Processes
• Employees are encouraged to use the office in an environmentally friendly way.
• A statement is included within our email signatures to ensure others consider the environment before printing.
• We monitor our printing figures and conduct regular auditing to ensure printing is kept to a minimum. The standard setting for printing when needed is black and white, and to print front and back.
• Local suppliers and contractors are chosen to reduce emissions.
• We purchase cleaning products which we then decant into smaller bottles. These smaller bottles are re-used to reduce our level of plastic waste.

What are our Future Plans?

• Release a pledge to commit to being a sustainable business.
• To release a carbon reduction plan, detailing how we plan to reduce our baseline figures and when.
• Employees will be undertaking training to enable them to advise our clients on their Net Zero goals.
• To become accredited with the Carbon Charter, a sustainable business network which will certify our commitment to adopting carbon reduction measures and sustainable business practices.
• Office car park light bulbs will be upgraded to LED to improve energy efficiency.
• We will be converting to PIR (presence detection for lighting) and daylight linking.
• An energy assessment will be carried out for the office building.
• Kill switches for electrical goods will be installed to make sure less energy is in use whilst these items are on standby.
• Hand dryers will replace paper towels in office bathrooms.
• Compost bins will be placed in our offices.
• Tree planting schemes will be implemented to cancel out the effects of our printing.
• We will continue to review our environmental business objectives.
• Development of key performance indicators to begin reporting to board.
• Implementation of supplier code of conduct with increased focus on sustainability.
• Implementation of measurements to enable recording.
• Increased employee training on how they can reduce their personal environmental impact.

Please continue to let us know your thoughts.

We are pleased to announce we have achieved Best Employer Gold accreditation!

What is Best Employers?

“From its roots as an employee survey, Best Employers has become a community, supporting leaders to continuously develop their organisation’s culture, engagement levels and workplace environment. It encourages learning and collaboration through inspiring events and supports organisations to develop their employee brand through awards and accreditations.” (Credit: https://bestemployers.prs.uk.com/)

We have worked hard to embed our company vision, values, and ethos at every level of the business, putting our employees and clients at the top of our priorities. Our team strive for continuous improvement in all aspects of the business as we continue to develop our culture. The family culture has always been at the heart of the business, with employees working collaboratively to achieve the business’ overall goals. We are extremely proud of our hard work and very grateful for the recognition we have received.

Judge’s comment: “A strong people focus, and a sense of community came across in the application. There are clear development pathways for all and an emphasis on wellbeing.”