The development of educational facilities and infrastructure has varied considerably between the different levels within the education sector over the past decade. There has been considerable investment in new schools and expansion of existing schools at primary and second level in spite of the economic downturn. On the other hand, third level has been starved of public investment over the same period and added to this is the uncertainty around the proposed consolidation and amalgamation of colleges. Nevertheless, many colleges have progressed development projects using other funding sources.
There are significant signs of recovery at third level with investment in the development of facilities set to resume. Student accommodation, both on and off-campus, is currently a focus of considerable activity.
MKO have extensive experience in the education sector, having provided the planning and environmental input on school bundles at primary and second level as well as a wide range of on-campus projects at third level. We have taken a number of student accommodation projects successfully through the planning process and are involved in projects amounting to a further 900 bed spaces. We are retained as planning and environmental and estate management advisors to a number of third level colleges. This experience, together with our offerings of planning, environmental and project/estate management services has placed MKO in a strong position in serving our client base in this sector.
Education – Key Services
We can either lead the planning-phase design team or are equally happy to play out part as a team member. Our most experienced planners lead the consultations with the Planning Authorities, from the initial concept feasibility discussions right through to agreeing pre-commencement compliance requirements.
We use current policy as a guide but not a limitation, as we consider an area’s future needs and our client’s requirements. Where necessary, we coordinate inputs of other professionals in areas such as transport planning, urban design, services engineering and landscape architecture, to maximize the potential of the vision we develop along with our clients.
We prepare comprehensive and fit-for-purpose Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA) as either stand-alone reports or for use as chapters of an EIS/EIAR. The scope of each EcIA is tailored to the specific client’s requirements of their site and project.
They can be targeted at a specific ecological subject matter of relevance, or span the full spectrum of ecology, from terrestrial habitats, flora and fauna, to freshwater, marine and avian ecology. Our EcIA are solutions-focused, proposing ways to mitigate potential impacts rather than just identify problems. Our clients benefit from the EcIA experience we bring to their projects, from having worked on some of the country’s largest infrastructure projects.
They are also written to be practical and aware of the need to implement design and mitigation measures during a project’s construction/operation phase. We project manage client, design team and specialist inputs, and meet our client’s deadlines. Our EIA experience spans every industry sector. Projects and clients benefit from the combined experience of all our company’s staff, who have refined our EIA knowledge and practices over decades of work in this field.
The requirements of the EU habitats directive are well known to us, and we prepare Appropriate Assessment Screening Reports (AASR) as Stage 1 assessment/reports or Natura Impact Statements (NIS) as Stage 2 assessment/reports.
Our expert knowledge of the requirements, pitfalls and nuances of habitats directive assessments has been honed by completing many hundred such assessments/reports over the last decade. Our knowledge of the planning system, makes us acutely aware of the planning implications of conducting a Stage 2 assessment for developments that otherwise would not require planning permission. Given our experience, we can advise clients very quickly on whether a Stage 1 “screening” will suffice of whether a full Stage 2 “assessment” is required.
We understand that the initial project decisions have the greatest influence on project success. Our goal is to help our clients make these initial project decisions armed with accurate and appropriate information on project scope, total development cost, delivery programme and constraints, and a knowledge of the opportunities and risks associated the proposed project.
We help clients through the challenging first steps required to progress from an initial vision to a fully verified, scoped, and costed project, with a robust and achievable delivery plan. Depending on project size, complexity and funder requirements, these initial steps can vary from progressing through an informal feasibility process, through to detailed two-stage appraisals required by the Public Spending Code / Capital Works Management Framework.
We provide Estates Management or Property Management advisory services to clients owning multiple properties, or larger dispersed estates. We develop processes and structures that ensure that Estates Management decisions are underpinned by rigorous appraisal, informed by accurate information, and aligned with the organisation’s strategic goals.
We advise on property purchases or disposals (options appraised and evaluated), capital investment decisions, maintenance and repairs budgeting (short and long-term requirements), and regulatory compliance (identifying any Building Regulations compliance issues and planning the required remedial works). We also advise on expenditure prioritisation decisions, providing robust and impartial evaluation of competing demands for limited investment resources. Operationally, we advise clients on best-practice strategies to ensure long-term Facilities Management efficiency, with an emphasis on effective procurement of service providers and implementation of appropriate contract arrangements; to ensure efficient and effective operations.
We survey, identify and propose management options for dealing with all types of invasive species. We do so primarily for civil engineering contractors, utilities or developers who must deal with invasive species during their project.
We also act for property, insurance and financial firms who need to assess any invasive species risks associated with their property interests. The initial surveys we conduct can be supplemented with on-site Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) staff during the construction stage, to ensure the invasive plant materials are being properly managed and costs of treatment, management and disposal and minimised. We bring a practical, experienced and pragmatic approach to every invasive species job.