The Ballard School in New Milton, on the edge of the New Forest National Park, has an impressive history dating back for over a 100 years. When the school’s governing body decided to expand their sporting facilities by commissioning a full-sized International standard Astro Hockey and Multi Use pitch they invited Sport Pitch Consultant, Jonathan Crowther, to lend his expert knowledge to the project.
The first task was to decide which of several potential pitch sites on the school’s premises offered best location. The challenge was to identify an area that would provide the optimum balance between cost and convenience and meet the school’s strict environmental policies.
A full site survey was commissioned before the preferred pitch location was selected and agreed. The services of a local Planning Consultant were then used to guide the application successfully through the complex planning consent process with the New Forest District Council.
Ecological surveys were also carried out to see how the proposed site might affect bats, birds and other wildlife that shared the Ballard School environment. Pitch floodlighting was also considered at this time. But the cost/benefit ratio was deemed uneconomical, as there was no demand from the local community for a floodlit pitch.
Once planning permission was assured, a series of trial pits were dug at the site to check ground conditions. The detailed information gathered from this exercise would help contractors tendering for the work to assess with greater accuracy the appropriate thickness of the pitch foundations.
Pitch drainage and the effects of flooding caused by water run off were also considered and factored into the completed design.
The contractors short-listed for the project were invited to supply details of pitches that represented examples of a facility they had constructed. Jonathan Crowther and representatives from The Ballard School inspected installations at four schools. They also interviewed those who commissioned these projects to learn how the contractors had fulfilled their obligations; had they performed as expected; what (if any) problems had been encountered; and how had the finished pitches performed in use.
Information gained through this investigation proved invaluable in ‘fine-tuning’ the tender brief. Some specifications were altered to take advantage of the findings and this allowed additional savings to be made that further enhanced the value on the investment.
The contract was finally awarded to the Bristol based firm, Verde Recreo. During the 12-week construction and installation period Jonathan Crowther and the team made regular inspections at the site to monitor progress and check that construction standards were being met.
The project was completed on time and to budget in September 2011. The thorough and diligent project management of the Ballard School project proved the value of employing an experienced consultant’s expertise right at the very start of a project. Ballard’s Bursar and School Governors were delighted with the savings made and the quality of the procedures undertaken to bring the project to fruition.