Jubilee Pool Restoration, Penzance, Cornwall, UK

Jubilee Pool Restoration, Penzance, Cornwall, UK

Jubilee Pool is a spectacular Art Deco lido in Penzance, Cornwall and the largest seawater swimming pool in the UK. Built in 1935, the triangular 100m long pool has been extensively repaired and updated following a two-year NEC-procured restoration.

The winter storms of February 2014 caused major damage to the pool’s seawalls, changing cubicles and concrete base, resulting in its closure. Cornwall Council – in partnership with Penzance Town Council, operator Tempus Leisure and the Friends of Jubilee Pool – put together a £2.9 million funding package for its restoration, including a £2 million grant from the UK’s Coastal Communities Fund.

Repairing the storm damage included installing 155 rock anchors into the underlying granite to stabilise the pool base, plus significant grouting of voids in the terraces and outer seawalls. As well as fixing the cubicles, the opportunity was taken to update other elements including resurfacing the terrace walkways with 1363m2 of resin-bound-recycled-glass, installing new seawater gate valves, improving disabled access and decorating.

The work was let under an NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) Option B (priced contract with bill of quantities) to Cormac Solutions, which also provided design and engineering under an NEC3 Professional Services Contract (PSC) option A (priced contract with activity schedule). Mott MacDonald and Currie & Brown were engaged as NEC project manager and supervisor under PSC option A.

Work started in January 2015 and the pool was completed on time and within the allocated funding in May 2016, with an official opening by Prince Charles in July 2016. The pool received 42,000 visitors in 2016 – 160% up on previous years and has been recognised in various industry awards.

Preferred contracts

Mark Harvey, commissioning support officer for the council’s capital projects team, says, ‘We use NEC contracts throughout our capital projects framework. They set out procedures to manage each project, ensuring all parties are aware of where they stand.

‘NEC processes for notifications and change control enable problems to be dealt with as they arise, rather than at the end of the project. There is also a less adversarial approach to dealing with any disputes as the team are working ‘in a spirit of mutual trust and co-operation’.

‘Furthermore, use of NEC dovetails neatly with our policies and procedures. The contracts enable adoption of the UK government’s Prince 2 project management method, and their flexibility allows us to tailor contracts to suit the preferred risk profile.’

Delivering flexibility

According to Harvey, flexibility was key for the Jubilee Pool project and this was delivered by ECC Option B. ‘Quick decisions were required to meet the completion date, which could not be extended due to the beginning of the May-to-September operating season.’

He says the NEC notification process was vital to successful delivery of the project. ‘The pool is over 80 years old and, although extensive surveys were carried out during the design process, there were many unknowns surrounding the condition and original construction.

‘It was important to have the flexibility to make changes to the design and construction methods as the project progressed to manage unforeseen events. The NEC early warning and compensation event process has enabled us to be aware of and approve any additional costs throughout the project without facing additional unknown costs at the end.’

Solving problems

The risk management processes in NEC also lead to innovative solutions to problems. ‘The pool is in an exposed tidal location at the edge of Mounts Bay and, with construction taking place over autumn and winter 2015/16, progress was very much at the mercy of the elements,’ says Harvey. ‘Following particularly bad weather, the contractor issued an NEC early warning notice of delay – which in turn raised an issue with the specified waterproof paint finish for the pool base.

‘The curing time for the paint meant the pool could not be filled until after the planned opening date. But, by issuing an early warning notice as soon as the issue arose, the project team had time to hold a risk-reduction meeting to look at alternatives.’

The agreed solution was to replace the paint finish with a coloured surface hardener in the pool base concrete. ‘This was cheaper than painting, it enabled the programme to be maintained and it removed the need for future repainting. Instead, the pool base can be jet washed when required as the colour is sealed within the concrete,’ says Harvey.

Benefits of using NEC

  • NEC suite enabled the client to procure services and works contracts with a common procurement approach and tailored risk profile.
  • The requirement to work in ‘a spirit of mutual trust and co-operation’ resulted in a collaborative, problem-solving approach by the whole project team.
  • NEC processes for notifications and change control provided the flexibility to make changes to design and construction methods to manage unforeseen events.
  • Early warnings and compensation events enabled risks to be mitigated as they arose, ensuring the restored pool opened on time and within the agreed budget


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