SFT scoops top honour at property awards
Work carried out by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) and its partners on the recently-opened Lasswade Centre has been recognised by SFT picking up ‘Community Partnership of the Year’ at the inaugural Scottish Property Awards.
The Lasswade Centre in Midlothian opened in August 2013 and is one of 67 new schools to be built over the next four years within the Scottish Government’s £1.25bn Scotland’s School for the Future programme, managed by SFT. For judges, the Lasswade Centre stood out for the numerous community benefits as it has a secondary school, a community library, a town hall, a 25m leisure pool, a specialist gymnastics centre, varied sports facilities, a crèche, a community cinema and cafe all under one roof and open to the public.
Judges were particularly impressed by the detailed level of consultation carried out amongst pupils, parents, teachers and community groups prior to construction, as well as the long-lasting community benefits to be gained from the new Centre. The project team, made up of representatives from SFT, Midlothian Council and the contractor, engaged early and fully with the local community to ensure that as many employment and educational benefits were achieved as possible.
By locating numerous community building on to a single site, feedback to Midlothian Council from locals is suggesting that the Centre is helping strengthen community spirit by bringing more people together, a factor that swayed the judges’ final decision.
Gemma Boggs, schools programme director at SFT, stated: “The Lasswade Centre stands as a perfect example of how SFT’s work is helping deliver exceptional value-for-money public sector buildings for the greater benefit of communities. Additional benefits are that the community has access to first- class facilities and Midlothian Council saves money by not having so many buildings to look after – a real win-win situation.
“Anecdotal evidence shows that gym membership has reached new heights, many more people are registering for night classes, more people are borrowing books and CDs from the library, bookings for swimming lessons are double that of before and sales in the cafe have gone through the roof.
“The older generation have also benefited with pensioners’ groups now involved with the school in helping maintain the gardens and providing support on local history matters.
“What really is important is that building on the success of the Lasswade Centre, many more local authorities across Scotland are now taking this unique concept forward for the benefit of their own communities.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Scottish Futures Trust
The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) works with Scotland’s local authorities to deliver the Scottish Government’s £1.25bn Scotland's Schools for the Future programme. SFT’s role is to efficiently and effectively manage the programme to help councils achieve the very best value for their investment in new schools. Such has been the success of SFT’s work in delivering improved value that 12 more schools will be built from within the existing budget.
The Lasswade Centre
The Project Team worked to ensure that as many employment and educational benefits were achieved as possible, including:
- As different trades came onto site, the school was invited to bring classes over to be given instruction by each trade on how they carry out their work. This was particularly useful for pupils interested in following a trade but were unsure of which trade suited them best
- The construction/design team attended eco committee meetings from the school and were given a number of presentations on the environmental solutions which were incorporated within the project
- Senior pupils were heavily involved in some of the key decisions within the process such as layouts, colours etc. This helped those involved to gain an understanding of how to work to deadlines/within budgets
Targets were surpassed by the Project Team on a number of levels, including:
- Every member of Midlothian’s Chamber of Commerce was invited to attend ‘Meet the buyer events’ with the main contractor. As a result nearly £8 million of construction work was awarded to firms with a Midlothian postcode and 93% of the sub-contract value was spent within a 50 mile radius of the school
- The contractor provided training placements to the school for two senior pupils to join the organisation in graduate training placements. The two successful candidates are now employed with the main contractor and are attending university on a part time basis. At the end of their university course they will be taken through their professional memberships. In total this guarantees six years worth of work and training for these particular trainees
- The project team advertised to inform local tradesmen looking for work know that they could leave their details with the site reception and as sub-contractors came on board and were looking for labour they were given access to this database to enable them to employ local people. The council assisted by offering free CSCS training to those who required it