Building on National Trust Land – Procurement and Project Implementation

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Heathcoat Cricket Club, Tiverton, Devon


Following successful planning and National Trust approval, Heathcoat C.C., led by Chairman John Smith, reviewed the best ways of procuring and constructing their new clubhouse within the tight budget that they had available. This building would need to retain its iconic status within the Knightshayes National Trust site whilst being built as economically as possible on National Trust Land.

Planning and the National Trust had given their approval to a timber frame building that would match the existing building as closely as possible whilst conforming to the stringent design guidelines set by crickets governing body the ECB.

Heathcoat CC Existing clubhouse constructed in 1928

During the early procurement stage various timber frame companies were approached to provide their estimated costs for building such a building. However the project really made significant progress when the National Trust approached the club to offer an alternative timber solution to the modular timber frame companies that the club had previously been negotiating with. The Trust, in order to make a contribution to the project, volunteered to provide the timber that would form the structural shell of the building. The timber would be cut from felled trees from the Estate at Knightshayes itself. Whilst providing the timber at a far reduced cost this technique would also recreate the process behind the construction of the existing clubhouse in 1928. The timber would be cut and machined by a local wood yard to mirror, as faithfully as possible, the techniques and existing detailing thereby providing a beautiful tribute to the craftsmanship and the building that had served the club for so many years.

Having now established this principle, the club acted as the main contractor and appointed sub-contractors to undertake the various elements of the project. As a result, in early September 2012, Macdonald Design and the project team assembled with representatives of the National Trust and the appointed contractors to organize the programming for the new clubhouse construction. The construction team was now ready!

The next key stage was to pin down and confirm the building detailing in sufficient detailing to be able to establish firm and fixed costs and an achievable programme.

building on national trust land - Macdonald Design Ltd

Visual of how the clubhouse will look upon completion

Working closely together, a timber fabrication company (Wooden Ways), the structural engineer (Paul Squibbs), the local Building Control officer and Macdonald Design formed a design team to take the various traditional construction processes and hone them into a building that would secure the approval of Building Control, National Trust and the ECB. Having achieved this, a cost plan was generated that married in with the budget set by the funding bodies, ECB and Viridor.

To augment the commercial supply element a host of local professionals, tradesmen and suppliers pledged their support for the project. Many of these provided their time and/or products either free of charge or in lieu of some other benefit like club membership etc.

With projects of this type, the key is to tap into the community aspect especially when constructing a building that will provide the focus for a large number of sporting and social activities for a wide cross section of the local public. In this way, it helps return clubs to their traditional place at the very heart of their community.