Press release: DfE appoints contractor ahead of move to Old Admiralty Building

The Department for Education has announced the appointment of BAM Construct UK (BAM), as the main contractor to refurbish its new headquarters in Whitehall.

The department is due to move into the Grade II listed Old Admiralty Building in Horseguards Parade in 2017, restoring and enhancing one of the Whitehall Estate’s most recognisable landmarks.

The relocation from Sanctuary Buildings in Great Smith Street will save the taxpayer nearly £19 million a year. The DfE has already cut its estate costs from £63 million to £45 million a year since 2010 and reduced the number of its headquarters from 12 to 6.

Bruce Mann, head of the Government Property Unit, said:

This is an excellent example of how we can move out of expensive property we no longer need, to make sure taxpayers get the best deal. Over the last 5 years the government’s property reforms have raised £1.4 billion for taxpayers and in the years ahead we will go further, and faster.

A building of significant national importance, the Old Admiralty Building has become known as the backdrop of key military events such as Trooping the Colour. It also makes up part of the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics, having been the showground for the beach volleyball competition.

Currently occupied by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Old Admiralty Building has housed some of the most famous figures in history and literature, including former Prime Minister Winston Churchill when he was First Lord of the Admiralty, and James Bond author – and former naval intelligence officer – Ian Fleming, whose renowned ‘Room 39′ was located inside the walls during World War II. It was also home to Admiral ‘Blinker’ Hall’s Naval Intelligence Department in World War I and later occupied by Lord Mountbatten when he became Fourth Sea Lord in 1950.

Andy Mason, Construction Director for BAM Construction London, said:

This is the kind of challenge that BAM has shown time and again it can deliver successfully and we are thrilled to be part of the team. We will be working carefully with Historic England on many of the decisions that will need to be taken on this historic and complex building.

BAM, part of the Royal BAM Group, is also renovating the Metropolitan Police headquarters, Curtis Green Building, just around the corner, handling similar security, logistical and technical challenges.

Old Admiralty Building includes numerous well-lit attic rooms used by engineers and architects at the turn of the last century as the British Navy developed its Dreadnought fleet in the arms race with Imperial Germany. Historic features, such as these, will be sensitively preserved in the upcoming works.

A planning application has been submitted to Westminster city council ahead of the proposed refurbishment, due to begin in November 2015. The DfE and the Government Property Unit are in talks with the council and Historic England about the necessary internal changes to ensure the building is fit to accommodate 1,600 DfE staff and bring it fit for purpose in the 21st Century.

The move is one in a series for government departments aimed at reducing the cost of the Whitehall estate, making it more efficient and fostering economic growth. It follows ownership transfers of key government estate such as the Old War Office and Admiralty Arch, which is now to be turned into a hotel. Between 2010 and 2015 the government generated a cumulative £1.4 billion for taxpayers through its property reforms, including by moving out of 2,018 buildings – the equivalent of one every day. Sales have been agreed on everything from the famous Old War Office building in Whitehall to satellite stations and disused rifle ranges.

It was also announced in the Budget 2015 that the government will create a new central body or bodies to manage relevant property and land assets, including implementing a new commercially-driven approach where departments pay market-level rents for the freehold assets they own. This will help drive better strategic oversight and management of the estate and help deliver plans to save up to £6 billion more by disposing of surplus land and buildings.

Notes to editors

  1. BAM is agreeing a pre-construction services agreement so that procurement can start.
  2. BAM has secured its status as the preferred contractor following a competitive tender process. The invitation to tender between January and March 2015 indicated an anticipated contract value of £45 million – we will announce the final contract value in accordance with the Official Journal of the European Union contract award notification requirements in due course.
  3. BAM Construct UK is overseen by its Chief Executive, the architect Graham Cash, who was behind the Japanese Embassy in Piccadilly. The company is known for its education work on schools, colleges, university technical colleges and universities, and for its skill with complex historic buildings and challenging designs and structures. BAM is ranked in the UK’s greenest companies list and the list of ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’. The company not only builds, but develops, designs and maintains buildings, and is the market leader on the collaborative technology known as BIM (building information modelling) which the government has made mandatory for public sector projects from 2016.

DfE enquiries

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020 7783 8300

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0370 000 2288

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