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Advertising feature | Welsh sailing academy


The Welsh National Sailing Academy & Events Centre in Pwllheli in north west Wales is a centre of excellence for sail training. The building meets the Breeam excellent rating and has been designed as a state-of-the-art facility to meet the needs of sailors at all levels of ability.

Since the official launch, the facility has hosted events attracting more than 40,000 visits and hosted competitions with competitors from over 37 countries. However, as well as hosting dinghy and keelboat events, yachting regattas and other water sport activities, the centre was also designed to benefit the local community and has a flexible events space, education facilities and café and bar areas.

Ymgynghoriaeth Gwynedd Consultancy (YGC), a multidisciplinary consultancy, operating as a commercial entity within Gwynedd Council, had responsibility for the project. This included programme, cost, and risk management for the overall development, including procurement and management of all services and works contracts. The project was part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and Gwynedd Council.

Three build components

The build was broken down into three components: road and infrastructure; marina extension; and Academy Building, as the vision, originally conceived as a £13M development, was successfully delivered within the £8.9M budget. YGC project manager Gareth Lloyd Wright, said realigning the budget was a challenge in itself.

He explains that the project had to get off the starting blocks quickly as the grant money allocated had a specified minimum annual spend. Dividing the works into three helped meet these requirements and also gave YGC greater control over the project. Separating building and marine works, due to their specialist nature, was also helpful with costs.

A condition of the funding was that the Academy Building was built to the Breeam excellent rating, meaning there was less room to manoeuvre on budget. However, the original design that included the use of local stone, timber and translucent Danpalon – which reduces the need for artificial lighting – was reimagined through value engineering, and utilised a lighter steel frame than the originally designed concrete.

Lower cost solution

The project team felt this could produce the same clear structure and appearance but at significantly reduced cost. Using a lighter steelwork structure also meant the team could develop a traditional pad foundation system instead of piles, which again helped with cost.

While the size of the marina extension was scaled back, Wright explained that a larger area was dredged so that it would be possible at a later date to add additional berths. Cutter suction dredging had to be used to reduce the amount of fine material suspended in the water during the works in order to minimise the impact on Special Area of Conservation and its associated features.

Through collaboration with the contractor, savings of £1M were realized, with 83,000m3 of dredged material being kept on site as a reclamation area, thus reducing disposal costs. During the project a 140m long containment bund was built within the marina and the seaward side was reinforced with rock armour. This produced a basin where the dredged material could be pumped ashore and allowed to drain to form the reclamation area.

The project took a very collaborative approach with regular board, construction team, and stakeholder meetings. Wright adds that the project used the NEC3 suite of contracts, and change management, which also promotes a collaborative approach.  “Ultimately the project’s success comes down to the people involved,” says Wright,  “and we did have a good set of people and that’s what the project relied upon.”

In association with Ymgynghoriaeth Gwynedd Consultancy (YGC)


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