Bowmer & Kirkland scores at FA's £100m training centre

11 October 2012

Building the FA’s new St George’s Park football training centre, opened last week by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, involved contractor Bowmer & Kirkland spending £1m a week.

Project director, Neil Brook MCIOB told Construction Manager that the £73.5m contract to build the new National Football Centre had a deadline of just 74 weeks and made it the “biggest week by week spend of any project Bowmer & Kirkland had delivered”.

The new complex near Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, will train the national squads, plus future generations of footballers. It has 11 full-size pitches, a full-size indoor pitch, and a training pitch that replicates Wembley.

The scheme also involved building two, three-storey hotels – a 142-bed five-star Hilton Hotel and an 86-bed three-star Hampton by Hilton – spa and swimming pool, training and conference suites for the FA’s learning team as well as a 90-seat lecture theatre and a modern digitally equipped library and an indoor sports building with a multi-use sports-hall, gyms, restaurants and all the associated hard and soft landscaping.

The complex has a full-size indoor pitch

Brook, an England fan and Liverpool FC supporter, said: “It really was a once-in-a-career project. As well as the sheer speed involved in delivery, it involved a whole host of technical challenges and high specification finishes. It was a great thrill seeing it used by the England football team.”

Another major challenge of the contract was dealing with a number of different clients – as well as dealing with the specification changes as the project progressed. Bowmer & Kirkland won the job on a lump sum fixed price basis, but within that there was £10m provisional sum for accommodating designs that were developing whilst the project was on site.

The centre has top-class facilities

One of the biggest technical challenges on the scheme was the construction of the indoor pitches. The full-size indoor football pitch, with newly laid artificial turf, is housed under a huge portal steel frame, clothed in a “barrel vaulted” fabric roof. Adjacent to the indoor pitch there is a 60m running track where athletes’ running techniques can be studied. The outdoor elite pitch is a precise replica of Wembley and includes all under-soil heating and irrigation systems.

A BREEAM assessment was developed specifically for the complex, which reached its target of very good. Sustainability credentials include:

• Rainwater management via sustainable drainage systems, ponds and swales to mitigate water run-off into the Lin Brook.

• Grey water recovery and water efficient sanitary ware, including leak detection systems to minimise water usage.

• Combined heat and power plant to reduce carbon emissions by at least 12%

• Wind catchers to the sports hall to provide natural ventilation

• Translucent wall and roof coverings to sports areas to reduce the need for artificial light

• Materials sourced from within a 50 mile radius where ever possible

• No excavated materials exported from site

• Timber supplied from an accredited certification scheme.

Brook has now moved on to another dream job: the construction of a new velodrome for Derby Council. “Cycling really is my passion,” he said.

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