2nd August 2022

A* for Belle Vue Academy project team

It’s going to be a busy summer for our Co-op Academy Belle Vue team in Manchester as they accelerate towards early completion of a new school that will also become a fantastic new hub for the wider community.

Located on a 12.6 acre brownfield site, Belle Vue Academy will comprise a main school building which will be three storeys high, with a teaching block, an adjoining drama block, and a two-storey sports block. To the rear will be two large playing fields and a multi-use games area (MUGA). 

The fantastic progress made by the team means that rather than staff and pupils moving into their new school premises in September 2023, the project is now expected to be finished towards the end of this November, with classrooms ready for action sometime in the first half of the next academic year 2022/23. 

Site, as you might expect, is a hive of activity. The steel frames are up, the roof and windows are in place and the team are currently working on the front elevation and main entrance.  Over the coming weeks, the focus will be on fit out, laying floors and joinery works.

Project Manager Richard Slater is proud of his team and pleased with the progress.

“With 12 weeks until completion, we’re moving fast, with 130-140 people working on site each day. Various tradespeople are working in numerous areas at the same time, so a high level of communication and coordination is required to keep things moving along in a positive manner.

“Our subcontractors are keeping us on our toes by throwing in a few challenges around delivery dates. For example, 10 months prior to install our sports hall timber flooring provider advised they only had a two week window for install in 2022 which is the 30th August so we need to ensure we are more than ready for them on this day!

“Over on the front elevation, the architect has designed the façade using two different types of masonry and cladding, as well as incorporating feature windows, so we’re managing multiple subcontractors in this area at the same time.

“We’re also working to a tight schedule to enable the release of the envelope to the groundwork contractor, with key dates of the 8th and 22nd August. Wherever we are at then, we need to leave the envelope and work around the hard landscaping contractor who need to take priority.

“And finally, we’re on with creating the three Sports England standard pitches and MUGA alongside a play area, 140 space carpark with electric charging, and a central plaza for community.”

Driving social value

The team have found time to build strong links with the local community, with two pupils at a time from a nearby construction college visiting the project to spend a couple of days a week on site to gain practical hands-on experience. This among commitments in the other scoring criteria has been recognised by the local Considerate Contractors assessor known for his tough marking who awarded the scheme 33/35 marks.

They’re also supporting brickworks subcontractor Marlborough, who have visited a nearby college to provide bricklaying demonstrations to show practical skills, helping to address skills gap.

Young site visitor tries their hand at digging using machinery

Celebrating a historical past

Megan and Lucy take on walking miles for Children In Need

With the site having once been home to a zoological garden, Sustainability Manager, Megan Haslam couldn’t resist doing a little digging into its history. Her research uncovered the tale of an elephant called Maharaja who, back in 1872, was transferred 200 miles from Edinburgh Zoo to Manchester’s Belle Vue on foot!

Inspired by the story of Maharaja and his keeper Lorenzo Lawrence, Megan and colleague Lucy Kennerley decided to follow in their footsteps and complete the same distance to raise funds for Children in Need last November.

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