LOCATION: Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire
DURATION: 12 Weeks

Theatre in the round auditorium refurbishment at the New Vic Theatre

Novus Property Solutions was privileged to be awarded with a contract to embark on the biggest redevelopment project the New Vic Theatre has ever undergone. The project even attracted the attention of the local media.

About The New Vic Theatre

The New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-Under-Lyme is at the heart of the local community, a much loved landmark by the masses of frequent visitors and the staff that work there.\r\n\r\nNew Vic opened its doors in 1986 and seats a total of 597 people at full capacity and has welcomed more than three million theatregoers over the last 34 years.

Project introduction

The work in brief is to fully refurbish the auditorium to include a new stage floor, new carpets, balustrading and to replace all seating.

A full refurbishment in the customer bathrooms to the ground and first floor was also included in the programme.

In addition, a gender-neutral toilet on the ground floor was also incorporated into the works.

Auditorium refurbishment

Works commenced on the auditorium refurbishment on 22nd June 2020 with all the original seating being removed from site, carpet removal and demolition of walls.

After the first two and half weeks the auditorium was fully stripped out.

Scaffolding was erected to enable the balustrade to be removed and new replacements installed. The scaffolding acted as edge protection whilst the new balustrade was being manufactured and later installed.

Novus colleagues and contractors then began to carry out all the necessary works to update the theatre to give it a new modern look and feel.

Bathroom refurbishment

Firstly, all the customer toilets were completely stripped and left as empty spaces.

Next, the new layout and partition walls were installed along with first fix electrics and a new suspended ceiling was fitted.

Then came the new cubicles and vanity units before final decoration and tiling, resulting in a clean and contemporary new look.

The tendering process and pre-work

The New Vic Theatre contract has proven to be a challenging yet highly rewarding project.

To begin with, the tender documents were received by our bid/estimating department 01/05/2020 with submission deadline 15/05/2020.

This was a tight timeframe to complete, especially considering it was during the peak of the Covid-19 lockdown and we were unable to visit site to complete a survey.

However with the help of the Novus supply chain and internal systems, we managed to submit a competitive tender on-time.

Following our submission, 2 weeks later we were invited by the theatre and their appointed representatives to an online Teams interview to discuss our tender.

After a successful interview Novus was awarded the refurbishment works and due to the client\’s requirements, these works needed to be completed and delivered within 12 weeks.

Starting the project

Due to the tight deadline, Novus was required to make a very prompt start.

The promptness for the works to begin meant the usual organisation process of identifying potential problems and confirming specifications was not fully completed.

Therefore, it was even more imperative that the Project Team at Novus, the Client and the Client’s representatives worked very closely and collaboratively during the works, to ensure expectations are met and were in accordance to our tendered submission.

What additional challenges have been faced in this project?

One particular area that has proven to be a challenge was faced in sourcing as many locally manufactured products as possible, to support local businesses and the local economy during the difficult climate.

Novus manged to locally source all of the tiles, washroom cubicles and sanitary-ware from the local Staffordshire are.

Even when certain products were not available, Novus reverted to suppliers whose origins were actually founded in the Newcastle-Under-Lyme / Stoke On Trent locality.

Additionally, as the New Vic Theatre appointed their own sub-contractors for several elements of the works, the Novus team had to build relationships with these sub-contractors and gain trust, along with managing them within our set out programme.

A programme of works was sent out to all Novus staff and sub-contractors identifying all elements of work, following this a site meeting was arranged for all involved to attend and discuss any possible issues and cross over from of trades to ensure Novus adhered to all Covid-19 legislation.

What Covid-safe working practices were involved?

The New Vic was one of the first projects to start on the back of covid-19.

Working alongside our health and safety department, the team were able to establish a safe environment for all to work in, this included a one way system in and out of site, numerous hand washing stations, staggered breaks and working in bubbles.

It was difficult to manage the amount of trades that were needed to complete their work in some of the areas but everyone worked together doing each element of work at a scheduled time to limit close contact.

These scheduled times were sometimes scheduled after hours or at weekends to ensure the safety of all staff and sub-contractors and site visitors.

How were the challenges overcome?

Novus has worked closely with the client throughout this project, adding critical dates to the programme for decisions to be made so that the project could be completed on-time.

Holding regular meetings with the New Vic Theatre, staff, contractors, and suppliers, ensured that any problems were resolved promptly.

It is through the hard work, drive, and determination from all parties involved in this project, that it has been completed successfully.

Novus has worked around the clock to ensure this project would be finished with minimal impact to the programme.

Gary Leach, Novus Contracts Manager said:

“We are tremendously proud of our achievements on this contract and have delivered an excellent finished project to the client.”

“From everyone at Novus Property Solutions, we hope The New Vic Theatre enjoys another 34 years in their new surroundings, it’s been our pleasure.

When we planned this project none of us thought it would be going ahead during a major pandemic. But despite this Novus has been fantastic to work with. We have faced challenges but creative solutions have been found and the support and hard work of the team has been very much appreciated. We are pleased to have had the chance to work with Novus again and pass on our thanks to everyone on their team.

Fiona Wallace, Managing Director at The New Vic Theatre

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