Defence Estates - DEFENCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, Issue 32
Home from home*
Lorraine Kerr, from Defence Estates, argues that better construction will help to recruit and retain Armed Service personnel.
Project SLAM is a Functional Prime Contract to upgrade single living accommodation for the UK Armed Services across England, Wales and, to a lesser extent, Scotland.
SLAM's main objective is to help Servicemen and women feel valued in order to assist in recruitment and retention of good quality Service personnel. Exit surveys of Servicemen and women cite accommodation as being amongst the top five reasons for leaving the Service.
The project is a 10 year programme; the first five year phase, valued at approximately £500m, was awarded to Debut Services Ltd (DSL) in December 2002 and, in April 2003, construction work began. DSL is a joint venture company between Bovis Lend Lease and Babcock Support Services Limited, supported by 36 supply chain members.
The contract awarded to DSL will deliver some 11,000 single bedspaces, most with en-suite facilities, which will offer a greatly improved living environment for the Services and contrast with the multi-occupancy rooms traditionally found on many Ministry of Defence sites. Project delivery is achieved by a Defence Estates team, headed by Architect Peter Hughes, in close co-operation with a Customer Focus Team representing the military services, DSL and their supply chain.
Prime Contracting was selected as the best procurement option for SLAM because of its potential for better value for money by reducing the amount of tendering required and using targeted contractors for what is essentially similar work across a large number of sites. The repeat nature of the work and large scale of the project offers opportunities to streamline processes, standardise designs and realise savings.
SLAM's objective to help Service personnel to feel valued has influenced SLAM'S design philosophy. 'Model Standard' designs for SLAM accommodation were agreed in the early days of the project. Most accommodation is in 'flatlet format', the intention being that occupants will enjoy homely surroundings. Flatlets comprise six or eight en-suite bedrooms sharing utility and common room facilities. Along with local landscaping, the emphasis on communal facilities for small groups of occupants aims to encourage greater social interaction within the self-contained flatlet groups. Additionally, a Design Excellence Evaluation Process is applied to all SLAM projects to ensure value for money, functionality, and the optimal aesthetic appearance of the buildings and their immediate confines.
Construction approaches vary from site to site but are based on a choice of modular or steel framed buildings. The contractor has responsibility for maintaining the buildings for seven years following their completion to ensure that whole life issues are considered during design and the maintenance regime is demonstrated.
Key Performance Indicators have been set up to ensure maintenance of quality and quantity of output, whilst achieving cost savings.
Good progress has been made on delivery over the three years since contract signature. The project delivered 1,862 bedspaces by the end of financial year 2004/05, exceeding its target for the year by 222. By March 2006, some 5,510 bedspaces were handed over for occupation; approximately 4,000 more were in construction.
Notable completions include 222 Junior Ranks' en-suite bedrooms at RM Poole, formally opened by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in May 2004. The opening ceremony for the new Slim Mess at RMA Sandhurst, for 101 Junior and Senior Officers, was performed by Viscount Slim in August 2004, and Victoria Cross Lines, a 72 bedspace block for Junior Ranks at RMA Sandhurst, was officially opened by Private Johnson Beharry, VC, on 26th January 2006.
The IPT are now working hard to maintain the momentum of delivery. Forthcoming schemes vary in location, scale and complexity, and included in the workload are a number of substantial ones, which will deliver the vision of high quality campus environments. For example, the Catterick Campus development, SLAM's largest project to date, will provide new accommodation for four units comprising 1,020 Junior Ranks bedspaces and a Mess development.
User feedback on completed accommodation has been excellent and supports SLAM's continuous improvement process, which has resulted in refinements to the 'Model Standard' design. Projects at RNAS Yeovilton, Combermere Barracks in Windsor and RAF Wittering will be first to benefit from the new design, which offers better functionality, more compact circulation areas and aesthetic enhancements, amongst other improvements, all supporting the UK Government's drive for 'Better Public Buildings'.
The option to place a further contract with DSL for Phase 2 of SLAM is the subject of a formal review and negotiations. DE is in the process of assessing DSL's proposals to cover the Phase 2 requirement and expects to make a recommendation regarding this in spring 2006.
Meanwhile, as the rolling programme of accommodation provision continues, it is anticipated that SLAM will continue to make a significant contribution towards tackling recruitment and retention shortages in the UK Armed Services.