Buxton Opera House Refurbishment Works

The refurbishment works involved in this scheme focussed on the external envelope, appearance and structural integrity of the building. Works included large areas of re-pointing, re-decoration of external windows and rainwater goods, parapet wall repairs, replacement of roof covering to the lantern and replacement of structural steelwork and associated repairs.

T.A.D. undertook a building survey in 2016 and through a number of meetings with the Council’s Asset Management Team enabled T.A.D. to provide a clear scope of works for the project. Further discussions and liaison with T.A.D. and the Asset Management Team ensured all stakeholders were engaged in the project from the outset and understood the need for the works and the likely impact on their activities.

T.A.D. developed the initial scope into a detailed Schedule of works on drawings and a specification. However in reviewing previous reports on the building the Structural Engineer confirmed that a previously reported structural defect required more urgent repair than originally anticipated.

Recognising the complexity of accessing some of the work, T.A.D. had already introduced the Asset Management Team to the empaii regional framework that encouraged and facilitated early engagement of contractors and amongst other benefits a local spend. T.A.D. were able to utilise their knowledge of the Framework, personnel and the contractor to ensure queries regarding compliance to the Public Procurement Regulations were swiftly answered.

Having early engagement with the framework contractor, T.A.D. were able to develop a scope of work for temporary supports to be installed over the Christmas period 2016/17 when the Opera House was not in use. This then allowed the permanent repair to be further designed and included in the main phase of work planned for later. The temporary work involved the installation of a number of temporary beams, with some internal finishing work to minimise the visual impact whilst it was in place. The beams and casing were designed with no internal propping that would have resulted in a reduction to fire escape widths, which in turn would have impacted on the allowable capacity of the Opera House. Understanding the impact of these temporary works and finding a solution to minimise the impact on the operation of the venue whilst they were in place, alongside designing the temporary works to facilitate the permanent works taking place without further disturbance was a key factor in the successful delivery of the project.

The Opera House is a Grade 2* Listed Building and sits within a Conservation Area, T.A.D. were required to liaise closely with the Conservation Officer and Historic England to gain agreement to the proposed works in detail, prior to submitting the relevant Listed Building and Planning Permission Applications.

Following T.A.D.’s detailed design and specification a Framework Contractor, GFT Tomlinson were able to develop a price for the works under the NEC Short Contract Form and T.A.D. acted as Project Manager in administrating the contract as the works progressed on site, including issuing Interim Certificates, Contract Instructions, inspecting the works, Management of the Risk Register and certifying Completion of the Works.

The nature of the works was visually intrusive and so in developing the scope with the team it was agreed that they should take place after the Buxton Festival. Works commenced in July 2017 and completed prior to Christmas 2017.

The nature of some of the works required careful liaison with the contractor on site to ensure the works complied with Historic England requirements and that where variations to the structural detail were necessitated once the works were opened up, these were designed, costed and initially agreed with the Conservation Officer and Historic England to enable them to proceed without overly delaying the works and then subsequently submitted and approved through the Planning Application process.

Throughout the project T.A.D. coordinated the input of the Structural Engineer and the Mechanical Engineer and acted as Principal Designer throughout.  Working with the Asset Management Team, T.A.D. were able to assist in communicating the correct message throughout the project given the political sensitivities around the scheme in the heart of Buxton.

Paul Kerryson, Executive Director at the Opera House was pleased with the approach of the team, saying

“This is to say a big thank you to you and your teams on behalf of myself and the Opera House for completing the external works at the Opera House in such an efficient and effective manner. Everything was on schedule and with minimum disruption to our business. It’s great to see the scaffolding gone on time and the building looking in pristine condition ready for our pantomime audiences to admire!”

TAD Architects