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City of Westminster Magistrates Court Reaches Practical Completion

22 August 2011

Westminster Court

The new £71m City of Westminster Magistrates Court has achieved practical completion.

Capita Symonds has been providing cost management advice on the project on behalf of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) since 2006.

Given the significance of this court (the highest profile magistrates court in England and Wales), its location, and the requirement within the brief to create a civic presence, a building of the highest quality was required. Located in a densely developed urban location on the corner of Seymour Place and Marylebone Road, the scheme has presented the team with a number of challenges:

  • Rights of Light: The development had restricted rights of light envelope;
  • Party Wall Awards: There were numerous party walls to deal with and construct against;
  • Transport for London: The location on Marylebone Road and proximity to underground lines meant close engagement with TfL;
  • Retention of existing Court House: Conservation and retention of part of the old Court Building on the corner;
  • Planning and Conservation issues: The prominence of the site on Marylebone Road within a conservation area meant the building needed to respond to a number of issues to provide a high quality civic building within the development plan. This included the retention of a Ginko tree ‘off site’ and then reinstatement on completion.
  • Security Issues: Ensuring the site was secure and allowed safe access to custody areas yet still allowed public access. This met the HMCS requirement of providing a building that allows justice to be seen to be done;
  • Acoustic Performance: The acoustic performance of a court room is critical to the operation of the building and the location on a main road network meant the design had given careful consideration to this issue.

In addition to this, the development is a BREEAM 'excellent' rated building and meets the 10% renewables target set by the GLA. This was met by heat rejection through aquifer coupling to provide a static cooling system using the thermal mass of the building assisted by displacement ventilation. The concrete superstructure provided the thermal mass and the solution comprises casting polybutylene pipes into the in-situ post tensioned slabs.

In order to prove this system the team (designers and contractor) recommended a mock-up of a typical slab in the design phase. Commissioned through BRE, the output from this exercise ensured cooling loads would be met and the solution could be used as a low energy exemplar for the Courts Service on other projects.

Ivan O’Toole says: “Capita Symonds’ role involved numerous option studies to maximise the site within the constraints as well as ongoing value management. We also built up a Life Cycle Costing model for the building to test various design solutions, gain additional BREEAM points and help the HMCS estates team find the optimum solution in terms of whole life cost.”

“The project is on budget with the contract sum and estimated final cost within the client’s budget set at the outline business case stage of the project. Risk has been progressively managed throughout the project with regular risk reviews and updated fully costed risk registers,” he adds.

The project was procured via a competitive dialogue OJEU procedure with the construction contract being a two stage Design and Build route using a GC/Works1 form. Laing O’Rourke was appointed at the conclusion of the Competitive Dialogue process.