DIO Salisbury Basing Programme, Salisbury Plain

Note: This project was procured and completed under SCF Construct prior to SCF Residential launch.

Salisbury Plain Training Area – Service Family Accommodation

Bulford, Ludgershall and Larkhill, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire

Project Details


Defence Infrastructure Organisation

Project Manager

White Young Green


White Young Green


Morgan Sindall (Lovell Partnership Ltd)



Contract Period

172 weeks

Procurement Type


Form of Contract

JCT Construction Excellence



Project Summary

This project has been completed as part of the Army Basing Programme 2020. Under the SCF two stage tender, Lovell was named Preferred Supplier in July 2016 and entered a Pre-Construction Services Agreement (PCSA) in October 2016 to ensure the key Army Rebasing Programme dates were met whereby Lovell undertook extensive enabling works prior to main contract, which was awarded by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) in November 2017, to construct and deliver 917 Service family homes at Bulford (225) and Ludgershall (242) by February 2020 and at Larkhill (450) by May 2020 plus various off site Highways projects. This is a collaborative form of contract that had seen very little exposure prior to this project but the parties have engaged enthusiastically and with success.

The design utilised 6 core house types to provide Officer, Other Ranks and adapted living properties.  The project spans 3 distinct sites, Bulford, Ludgershall and Larkhill and extensive Section 106 off site Highway works. Due to the high-speed delivery requirement of this project, the output of the scheme has been in excess of industry norms, with an average handover rate of 16 house per week, rising to 20 per week at peak output. This complex, high-volume, fast-track homes project is Lovell’s largest exclusively contracting scheme and the delivery rate is unprecedented in UK low rise housing, building on the success of our performance at MOD Stafford. In addition to the housing development, Lovell has undertaken extensive off site Highway works associated with the 3 sites as part of the Section 106 obligations MOD agreed with Wiltshire Council.

Notwithstanding numerous unforeseen Relief Events (c 150 nr) and the extensive re-planning of Larkhill following Lovell’s appraisal of the original outline client design, the works have been carried out largely ahead of the revised programme completion dates. The final Larkhill handovers suffering due to the effects of Covid-19.

The project has been delivered on budget and on schedule, despite the current challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Each site presented its own challenges throughout the development but despite this, the joint Project Team including our client (DIO) and Purchaser’s Representative (WYG), have succeeded in delivering an exemplary scheme that showcases innovative approaches in the build programme, pace of delivery and high-quality construction.

Our use of a dedicated supply chain, including key partners and where possible incorporating local companies, thus boosting the region’s economy and supporting sustainable employment for local people.  Throughout the project we have liaised with the local schools, providing careers support for the senior school students, promoting work experience opportunities and construction career guidance. In local primary schools we have provided construction activity mornings within a variety of classroom environments.

In addition to the significant development project we have also focused on building a Lovell Legacy in this region and have nurtured extremely positive relationships within both the County Council and Local Councils where we have been operating, working with them on a variety of Lovell Legacy projects including the Ludgershall Great War Memorial Garden, the Nga Tapuwae New Zealand High Commission Centenary event for the Bulford Kiwi and as platinum sponsor of the Armed Forces Day National Event in Salisbury 2019.

Health and Safety has remained a primary concern throughout the project. With in excess of 2 million man hours completed on site throughout the main build and our induction and site monitoring procedures have ensured that our quality, safety and environmental performance was of a consistently high standard we have achieved Performance Beyond Compliance ratings from the Considerate Constructors Scheme on each of the 6 inspections completed during the build across all three sites.

Community Engagement

The Bulford and Larkhill sites were essentially ‘green field’ areas although both had to be purged of extensive archaeology including a forgotten WW1 Practice Battlefield at Larkhill which, when excavated, was found to be home of over 8km of training trenches, making it the largest ever archaeological exploration of such features anywhere in the world. It was also home to a variety of Stone Age findings associated with the adjacent Stonehenge and at Bulford circa 200 Anglo Saxon burials were excavated along with extensive quantities of and ordnance prior to construction.  Throughout the enabling works, a variety of important historic finds were identified including a Stone Age Double Henge Form at Bulford which is now a registered English Heritage Scheduled Monument.  The Ludgershall site was a ‘brown field’ site encumbered with significant underground obstructions, where Romano-English graves were also discovered and exhumed.

From a standing start in 2016 with no local presence in the area, Lovell effectively created a new Regional Business within a very short space of time involving new premises, staff recruitment, transfer, logistics, accommodation, etc.  The project has by necessity been innovative.  We entered into the pre-commencement phase of the project with our focus upon building a strong supply chain and a robust programme for delivery. Having no pre-existing regional presence in Wiltshire, the early assembly of a portfolio sub-contractors and suppliers was key.  The success of the project and strong relationships built up in the area will be pivotal to the company’s future success in the locality.

Build Programme

During the pre-commencement phase, a feasibility study for the Larkhill site revealed major topographical issues within the outline design.  Lovell undertook a re-plan of the design on behalf of the client resulting in a vast cut and fill operation of c 250,000m3 of chalk movement and the addition of Phase 4, the eastern facet of the design.  This involved a new planning submission to Wiltshire Council covered by Relief Event.

The key differentiator of this project is the speed of delivery and the safe management thereof.  Due to the necessity for speed of build out, safety was at the forefront of all planning and so with lessons learned from MOD Stafford, we inserted 2 programme interludes, the first of 4 weeks after foundations to remove civil engineering from the superstructure build and a second was introduced upon completion of the superstructure envelope allowing construction of the garage and service connections prior to internal trades commencing.  This often feels counter intuitive as it breaks customary housing conventions but is crucial to the safe progression of works at such a demanding run rate. The plot build cycle is extended but the buffer periods ultimately hasten the build process enabling a safe, sequential and methodical approach.

These new estates have now successfully become extensions to the existing local communities and are already thriving, full of young families who have integrated well in the local service family lifestyle.

Key Challenges

With no regional presence, the Lovell Major Projects team had to establish a complete operation suitable to provide high quality, high speed delivery for the client.

The project required pre-contract engagement with the prospective supply chain and delivery team due to the fixed delivery milestone, which required 917 SFA by summer 2020, with no “award” until the end of November 2017.

The project offered no long term prospect and therefore no continuity for employment or supply chain engagement.

The project final delivery date has been delayed by 3 months due to the worldwide pandemic and its impact on construction practices.

Project Takeaways

Our Success

  • Team – the successful assembly of a delivery team which very much exhibits a “can do” mentality.
  • Supply Chain – intelligent selection based on early explorative work.
  • Collaboration – supported by a shared project office environment, the scheme has benefitted from an open and fully collaborative working relationship between the client (DIO) and Purchaser’s Representative(WYG) throughout the project.
  • COVID 19 – Following a brief 2 week shut down period during early April 2020, suitable Health and Safety measures were swiftly established allowing the project to be completed by the end of July 2020, still within the contractually agreed timeframe as set out by the Army Basing Programme.
  • Speed of Delivery – Speed of build has demanded extensive use of off-site manufacture, ie timber frames enabling superstructure completion within 22 weeks from foundations (including an extensive Acceptance process).  This innovative approach has been taken a step further at Larkhill where we engaged two timber frame providers to work ‘side by side’ collaboratively in an arrangement not seen before in UK housing development.

Our Learnings

  • Using lessons learned from a previous scheme at MOD Stafford, we inserted 2 programme interludes which further enabled the demanding run rate with a safe, sequential and methodical approach achieving handover of 20 houses per week at peak output.
  • Using 2 timber frame providers working side by side collaboratively (not seen before in UK housing developments) allowed a speed build of 22 weeks from foundations to superstructure with an extensive acceptance process.
  • This highly efficient form of MMC together with enhanced renewable energy provides a standard equivalent to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Value Added

  • Level 4 Code for Sustainable Homes – Through the use of a highly efficient form of modern construction and further enhancing of renewable energy the development provides a standard equivalent to level 4 of the erstwhile Code for Sustainable Homes.

KPI’s & Statistics


  • Bulford SFA, The Plumer Estate – July 2019
  • Ludgershall SFA, The Corunna Estate – August 2019
  • Larkhill SFA, The Alanbrooke Estate – August 2020
  • Off Site Highways works – Ongoing into early 2021