Willmott Dixon has a track record in supporting the Blue Light sector, in this blog, our sector lead Paul Gorry, answers some key questions around the Blue Light sector, specialisms, and more.
Paul, please introduce yourself
Paul: Thank you John. I have been with Willmott Dixon Interiors for almost 8 years supporting the development of our key sectors. Initially focused on hotel and leisure facilities my focus has since turned to “Secured Environments”. This covers a wide range of project types but ultimately is for classified, highly secure schemes that need specialist contracting knowledge. Our customers in the sectors are Blue Light, Defence, Ministry of Justice, national government and private providers to these institutions.
How long has Willmott Dixon gained experience within the Blue Light sector and how long have you been working within this area?
Paul: Willmott Dixon have supported many constabularies since 1852, from building new headquarters to supporting estate rationalisation programmes. We offer a full suite of services to this sector, including; PB5 (Projects Below £5m) that offers specialist, fast paced and agile refurbishment particularly where a pipeline of similar works are identified, CODE is our pre-designed new custodial suite product and of course we have both the Construction and Refurbishment businesses that deliver larger schemes with more bespoke requirements
Each of these are accessible through one of our many public sector procurement frameworks which allow our customers to select a process that is right for them rather than a lengthy, costly procurement period.
What specialisms can Willmott Dixon bring to the table when it comes to working within the blue light sector?
Paul: We have developed specific skill sets based on our understanding of our customer needs. For example, our team of refurbishment specialists at Willmott Dixon Interiors. We have become industry leading managers of design and procurement which enables us to drive out construction phase issues and to engineer value. We are well versed in delivering great quality under the most challenging of circumstances too, whilst retaining a clear vision of our customers aspirations. Projects are typically live, operational environments that need careful planning and usually have the addition of security clearance, careful data handling or building listings to consider. It is this type of experience and know-how which gives our customers confidence when engaging with us
What has drawn Willmott Dixon towards working within emergency service estates?
Paul: The Blue light sector has been part of Willmott Dixon’s DNA for some time, we have completed more than 50 projects in recent years and have a further 28 projects on site as we speak. Our customers in the sector have specific challenges that need expert support, experienced advice and innovation. It is not just our connections through procurement frameworks but a cultural alignment that draws us to the Blue light sector. We are committed to making real change in our communities and supporting the emergency services is key to this.
How is Willmott Dixon incorporating sustainability within their approach to the sector, and how can it help to reduce running costs and improve working conditions?
Paul: We understand some of the broad challenges that face the Blue Light sector. Squeezed budgets, tired and often unorganised estates, public respect and integration into communities and of course the continually growing and changing demand on your services.
So, as building specialists, we turned our focus to providing support in the best way we know how. We ask what can be done to make property more efficient, to ensure space is not wasted, that energy is harnessed and used only when its needed. We look for technological advancement that can support this, we change our procedures to drive innovation and our mindset is geared to questioning the norm seeking greater outcomes from property.
Sustainability has always been at the very heart of our business. We have recently renewed our sustainable pledge, our plan to make industry leading change. Our new Sustainability Strategy 2030, Now or Never, sets a new precedent for our business with a series of highly ambitions and targets covering the next ten years – something we refer to as Our Decisive Decade. These targets focus on Brilliant Buildings, Building Lives and A Better Planet.
Our headline Sustainability ambitions include; Becoming a net zero carbon business without offsetting, all our major projects will achieve net zero operational carbon, we will deliver high-impact social value which meets the needs of our customers and their local communities and our supply chain will achieve net zero operational carbon by 2040. To read the detail behind our amazing plan please click here
Social Value has been increasingly emphasised as a core aspect of public procurement, how is Willmott Dixon reflecting this focus?
Paul: Along with Sustainability, since 1852 we have been passionate about leaving the right social and economic legacy. Our purpose extends beyond profit and as leaders in fit-out and refurbishment, we play as important role in shaping the communities we work within.
Whether we are inspiring young people, tackling social exclusion, or aiding community transformation, our people invest their time and resources to deliver additional social and economic value.
For every pound we spend we invest back into our local communities. Each refurbishment project offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with our customers, supply chain and stakeholders to develop innovative interventions that demonstrates the wider Social Return on Investment of a contract.
In addition, through our public sector procurement frameworks we can set KPI’s to support added social value on each project.
The Blue Light Sector has a number of specific constraints including spatial and financial limitations, how does Willmott Dixon support Blue light services within the parameters of these Constraints?
Paul: Throughout our suite of OJEU compliant, public sector procurement frameworks we can offer the very best value for money. Typically, early engagement is key to allowing us to add value and design or plan out inefficiencies in delivery logistics. Through cost free feasibility studies to the engagement of category A supply chain we are committed to collaborating with design teams and consultants to find the best outcomes for your budget. That way, when you spend you can be confident on receiving the best in return.
Find out more about our frameworks here
John: How vital is heritage when working within the estates of fire, police and the ambulance service and how can protecting heritage be balanced with modernisation?
Paul: We are all too aware that many public sector buildings are listed or have areas where sensitive restoration is required. Our preconstruction and project teams appreciate the importance of maintaining our national architectural heritage, and have experience working with local authorities, English Heritage, and other stakeholders to advise on and address any concerns during the refurbishment process.
This isn’t easy; but keeping the reason for the project in mind, its future purpose, helps to stay on track and maintain a healthy balance of restoration and modernisation. It is the key to ensuring the building retains and rejoices in its historical features whilst upgrading the facilities to modern specifications. Ultimately, part of restoring is repurposing and offering a new lease of life.
What advice would you offer to estate managers within the Blue Light sector?
Paul: Have a clearly defined outcome and be sure this is communicated to everyone involved. Seek suitable key advisors who are experienced in your area of work and engage them early. Allow them to advise you but push their creativity and always consider alternative solutions for design, construction methodology and sustainability.
Procure smart, stay involved and enjoy the outcome.
Want to know more?
Visit our secured environments sector page here
Contact Paul Gorry:
t: 07976 505391