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Estates management at Millfield School: Disrupting the status quo

21st December 2020

Matt Sanders

While working with the team at Millfield School in Somerset to improve their indoor sporting provision, it was clear that speed of build and cost-efficiency were key factors. But there was a much bigger challenge to deal with as well – these new cricket and golf centres would be the first of their kind in the UK. This month, I’ve asked Millfield’s Head of Estates Neil Chapillon to reflect on both Paragon projects and reveal whether pushing the boundaries has paid off…

Here at Millfield School, we pride ourselves on giving our pupils the very best all-round education. That means on the sports field as well as in the classroom. Before working with Paragon Structures, our indoor golf and cricket facilities were good, but we wanted to take them to the next level.

Time, cost and usability were our key considerations, with time being our main challenge – we wanted exceptional results without the timescale or disruption of a traditional build. Not only did Paragon offer speed of construction (both buildings were delivered in seven months from start to finish), after exploring a number of alternatives, they also provided the most efficient return on investment.

Cost is always a consideration in any capital investment, and compared to traditional constructions, Paragon’s Sprung structure solution was unbeatable. To put it into perspective, we essentially ended up with two new buildings for the price of one traditionally-built cricket centre.

These membrane structures provide versatile open-plan spaces, are durable, fire resistant, energy efficient, and offer ideal climate control, with the correct HVAC specification.

In short, the results are a million miles away from how I remember school sports facilities of old and we’re proud to show the structures to prospective parents during our open day events.

The main concern I had prior to starting the project was that there were no other examples of these kinds of buildings in the UK. We would be leading the way. But when your school mission is to be a world leader for the development of children and offer them outstanding sporting opportunities, you need to take a step into the unknown from time to time and challenge what’s gone before.

You could say it was a gamble but it’s one that has certainly paid off. Both our sporting structures have been game changers for both the school and the students alike.

Both the golf centre and cricket centre are now world class. A recent visit from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was testament to that. The cricket centre’s vast open-plan layout is complete with fast and spin bowl lanes, fielding areas, and adaptable surfaces, which allow pupils to develop and hone their skills all year round.

These structures have also facilitated greater diversity within both sports, creating opportunities for growth regardless of gender, age, experience or ability.

The team at Paragon were supportive and helpful throughout and were flexible when we needed them to be. They worked well with our on-site construction team and were able to adapt according to various site constraints. The project was a learning curve for everyone involved, but that’s what happens when you set out to deliver world-class buildings and challenge the status quo.

Any other schools or sports providers looking at capital investment opportunities should definitely consider how a Sprung structure from Paragon could work for them.

Thanks Neil. We enjoyed the process of working with Millfield School immensely and we’re pleased that the buildings are such a success. At Paragon Structures, we’re committed to creating sporting opportunities that promote diversity and opportunity within our schools and local communities. To find out how one of our structures could work for you, give us a call today.

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