£7m claim over leaking Dartington 'eco-school'

A £7m claim has been launched against two firms involved in the design and building of an "eco-school" that closed after it developed leaks

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A £7m claim has been launched against two firms involved in the design and building of an "eco-school" that developed leaks.

Devon County Council is demanding the money from architects White Design and main contractors Interserve over Dartington Primary School.

The claim is for the cost of repairs and relocating to temporary buildings.

White Design and Interserve confirmed legal action was under way but declined to comment further.

Dartington C of E Primary School All the classrooms at the former school buildings have been emptied
Dartington C of E Primary School Children will be taught from the start of the winter term in a number of temporary buildings

The authority said in a statement: "We've issued letters of intent to the architects and contractors amounting to over £7m.

"That covers the cost of the construction work and the cost of temporarily relocating the school, including the temporary classrooms."

The move has been prompted by "considerable problems" with leaks at the 310-pupil "zero-carbon" school which opened in February 2010.

'Grateful' for support

A report commissioned by the council in 2013 said the building started letting in water shortly after it was finished, and that "significant" repairs were needed.

The technical specialist's report said the major cause of the leaks was "likely to be the result of the scheme design".

The report also highlighted "complexities within the rainwater harvesting system" and "concern with the specified use of materials".

Start Quote

Now it has come to this, it is really sad”

End Quote Jacqi Hodgson South Hams District Councillor

The council said it had worked "very closely" with the school and parents and was "very grateful for the continuing support of the parents, staff, governors and children".

The letters of intent to take action on the claim were "part of a legal process" that it said it could not comment on further.

'Rainwater running down walls'

The £7m "flagship new eco-school" was intended to replace "dilapidated flood-prone" former buildings.

Classes were held in four clusters of pod-like timber-clad buildings, with electricity and hot water from solar panels.

But rainwater was reported to be running down the walls after apparent faults in the structure.

Ordering the school had been a "bold decision" by the county council, said district councillor Jacqi Hodgson.

"It's unfortunate that it had had so many problems and now it has come to this, it is really sad."

How much will remain of the school's green credentials is unclear.

Parent Chris Mockridge, 38, said: "I think this might put people off. If they see this they might think environmental building doesn't work and in my heart I really hope it does.

"I wanted this to work and I still hope it does."

White Design has previously denied any liability.

Founder Craig White said the claim was with the firm's insurers, adding: "There is a legal process and we cannot compromise that."

Rhys Jones of Interserve said: "This is currently the subject of legal action so it would be inappropriate to comment further."

The council said it expected repairs to be finished by spring 2016.

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BBC Devon



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BBC Local Live

    18:00: Goodbye

    That's all from BBC Local Live for Devon and Cornwall on Tuesday 2 March. Thanks for joining us.

    We'll be back at 08:00 on Wednesday with all the latest news, sport, travel and weather updates.

    17:57: News on the hour

    The top news stories at 18:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: Agencies, including police and other bodies, gathered at the Eden Project to discuss the threat of slavery and adult exploitation in the county.

    BBC Radio Devon: The award-winning children's author Mal Peet, who lived in Exmouth, has died aged 67, several months after being diagnosed with cancer.

    17:48: Police support anti-fraud campaign

    Devon and Cornwall Police are supporting the Home Office funded "Spot It, Stop It" anti-fraud campaign, which has been launched across the south west.

    Online fraud. Pic: Thinkstock

    The campaign aims to raise awareness of scams people may fall prey to, particularly doorstep fraud, plus telephone and online scams. There were 8,600 reports of fraud in Devon and Cornwall last year, resulting in the loss of about £9m, the force said. Victims were usually aged between 61 and 90, it added.

    17:39: Cold overnight before a sunny day David Braine Weather forecaster, BBC Spotlight

    It will stay windy into the evening with a few showers continuing, although these will gradually die out overnight. However, clear spells could allow temperatures to fall low enough for some patchy ice to form by the morning. The minimum temperature will be 0C (32F).

    Weather graphic

    After a cold start, Wednesday should be a dry day with a good deal of sunshine. It will feel less cold than Tuesday, with winds easing too. Temperature will reach 9C (48F) in places.

    17:32: Police team in school

    The Plymstock Police Team tweets: Excellent time at Dunstone Primary. Very inquisitive 4&5 yr olds. Lovely part of our job

    Police school day
    17:26: 'Tourism success could push spaceport' BBC Radio Cornwall

    Space Minister Robert Goodwill tells BBC Radio Cornwall that Newquay's connectivity and success as a holiday resort could boost its chances of becoming a spaceport.

    He said: "Newquay is in a very good place, because you've got an already well-developed tourism industry with restaurants and hotels."

    17:17: Businesses support distract plans

    Businesses in Exeter City Council have voted in favour of creating a Business Improvement District (BID) for the city centre, the city council says.


    Money raised by the project would "enable businesses to invest in better marketing and promotion of the city centre", it added.

    17:09: Woman pulled unconscious from water

    A rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose airlifted a 70-year-old woman who was rescued from a swimming pool at Newquay Leisure Centre.

    Navy helicopter

    Royal Navy rescuer Lt Cmdr Andy Watts, a winchman and medic with 771 Squadron, told the BBC that the woman was pulled unconscious from the pool and treated with a defibrillator on site before she was taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

    16:57: News on the hour

    The top news stories at 17:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: Cornwall and Scilly's Local Enterprise Partnership says it will make crucial decisions over the coming months to decide whether it will submit a bid for a contract to allow Newquay to become a spaceport.

    BBC Radio Devon: Mid Devon District Council, which is freezing its share of council tax for the fifth year running, says it can keep front line services "at existing levels" because it has managed to make "significant efficiency savings".

    16:49: Space minister to talk Newquay

    The minister for space is joining BBC Radio Cornwall's Julie Skentelbery on her evening programme to talk about Newquay remaining on the shortlist to become a possible UK spaceport.

    Rocket. Pic: Thinkstock

    Robert Goodwill (OK, he is technically aviation minister) will be talking with her after 17:00, and she'll ask if Cornwall should aim for the stars.

    16:42: Navy man 'proud' of honour

    A Royal Navy winchman who won the Queen's Gallantry Medal for his part in the rescue of five French fishermen says the honour is 'very humbling'.


    Petty Officer Russ Adams was repeatedly submerged as he battled to save the crew of 'Le Sillon' in the storm off the coast of north Cornwall last year.

    PO Adams said: "I am proud of all of our efforts that night to save those fisherman - the pilot and observer were under a lot of pressure to keep the aircraft steady and my life safe. It was a very challenging rescue and being at night it made it even more so. I think we were really working at the limits."

    16:31: Victims 'value abusive relationships' Sophie Pierce BBC Radio Devon

    A programme in Devon protecting people with learning disabilities from sexual exploitation is needed because victims in an abusive relationship often think the relationship is "more important to them than the fact that abuse is taking place within it".

    Helping Each Other programme leader Rod Landman

    Project leader Rod Landman (pictured) said: "They have the same needs and desires for friendships as the rest of us. That can be very easily exploited by anyone who is in that kind of business."

    16:19: Modern slavery 'a hidden crime'

    Devon and Cornwall Police tweet in connection with a slavery conference being held in Cornwall: "Modern slavery includes child trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude, sexual & criminal exploitation. It's a hidden crime"

    16:10: Concerns of mental health inquest family Miles Davis BBC News Online

    The family of a mental health patient found dead in a Paignton garden after a series of failings by the authorities say more should have been done to help him.


    An inquest jury yesterday returned an 'accidental death' ruling on Valon Pitts in 2012, but identified serious lapses by police and ambulance staff.

    The family of Mr Pitts - also known as Chang Somers - told the BBC: "Although we can't bring Chang back, we feel strongly that no other family should have to go through this, to see their loved one die because of the kinds of failings in this case. One of the hardest things for us to come to terms with as a family is the fact that because Chang's body was not found for so long, we will never really know how he actually died."

    15:58: News on the hour

    The top news stories at 16:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: Newquay remains in the running to operate commercial space flights in the UK, but the Local Enterprise Partnership behind any potential local bid says it will wait for more details before making a decision about the project.

    BBC Radio Devon: Mid Devon District Council has frozen its share of council tax for the fifth year running, saying it isn't making any cuts to front line services and it can maintain them "at existing levels".

    15:49: Smoke alarm selfies

    Devon and Somerset Fire Service tweets: Pressing the button on your smoke alarm! Send us a #selfie #presssmokebutton

    15:36: City's gardening equipment stolen

    Thousands of pounds-worth of gardening equipment has been stolen from the Truro City Parks Department over the weekend, the city council has told the BBC.

    Parks manager Richard Budge said padlocks protecting the equipment were cut, but police had been informed and CCTV showing the three thieves had been discovered. All the stolen items were marked and their serial numbers logged, he added.

    15:25: Mebyon Kernow candidate steps down Andrew Segal Local Live

    A Mebyon Kernow Parliamentary candidate has announce he is stepping down.

    Orlando Kimber. Pic: Orlando Kimber

    Orlando Kimber said he was no longer to be candidate for North Cornwall in the forthcoming general election because he wanted to care for his sick wife.

    15:16: Spring has sprung!

    Spring has been officially declared in Cornwall now that seven champion Magnolia campbellii trees across the county are in full bloom.


    At least 50 blooms have been counted on the magnolia trees across seven of Cornwall's great gardens - pictured is Georgiana Ashworth admiring the magnolias at Tregothnan.

    15:06: Modern slavery call Matt Pengelly Local Live

    People should to be more vigilant when it comes to reporting suspected incidents of exploited workers in Cornwall, the head of Devon and Cornwall Police says.


    The Eden Project is holding a conference on modern slavery today - it's estimated that there are between 10-13,000 victims of slavery across the country.

    Chief constable Shaun Sawyer said: "Cornwall is in a good place. It's uncomfortable for traffickers to work in because it's where public watch out for each other."

    14:57: News on the hour

    The top news stories at 15:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: Cornwall's home-owners are being encouraged to report burglaries and thefts after the Policy Exchange thinktank claimed property crime had virtually become decriminalised.

    BBC Radio Devon: The family of 10-year-old Samuel Crocker, who died at the weekend following a road accident in Crediton, say they "all miss our little 'mole' so much".

    14:45: Medal for hero winchman

    A Royal Navy winchman who risked his life repeatedly to save five French fisherman from almost certain death has been awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.


    Petty Officer Russ Adams - who's from Canada - rescued five men trapped on a badly damaged French fishing vessel in the middle of a raging storm off the coast of Cornwall in February 2013.

    14:36: New average speed cameras

    Four new sets of average speed cameras are to be installed across Cornwall from next month, the West Briton reports.

    They are due to be located in existing 30mph zones at: Henver Road in Newquay, on the A390 at St Blazey, on the A388 at St Mellion; and on the A394 Trewennack, near Helston.

    14:31: Newquay gets Apollo 13 treatment Andrew Segal Local Live

    The Telegraph has headlined news that Cornwall remains on the shortlist for a UK spaceport with a headline based on the famous radio transmission of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission: "Newquay, we have a problem...'.

    Astronaut and mission commander Jim Lovell famously said: "Houston, we've had a problem" after a section of his spacecraft exploded on 13 April 1970.

    14:10: A chilly night ahead Kevin Thomas BBC Weather Forecaster

    There will be scattered showers and spells of sunshine this afternoon. Some showers will be heavy with hail and perhaps wintry over the moors. Moderate west or north westerly winds will be fresh to strong further west and also exposed areas.


    Although the showers will continue into the night with some remaining wintry over the moors, they will become much more isolated by morning with long clear spells developing allowing a slight frost to develop in well-sheltered areas and perhaps a few icy patches. Min Temp 2C (36F).

    13:58: News on the hour

    The top news stories at 14:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: The team behind Cornwall's spaceport proposal say they'll be making crucial decisions in the coming weeks whether to submit a formal bid for the project after Newquay remains on a shortlist.

    BBC Radio Devon: The North Devon Link Road is one of seven big road projects in the South West getting a share of £2bn for upgrade work from the government.

    13:45: Pick-up truck 'spins off road' Andrew Segal Local Live

    Police are investigating a road crash which saw a white pick-up truck hit the central reservation of the A30 near Fraddon and spin off the road this morning.

    Officers said a Renault van and a Citroen Nemo car were also reportedly involved in the collision at about 06:50 but no-one was injured. A 20m (66ft) section of crash barrier was damaged.

    13:36: Burglary 'taken seriously?' responses via Facebook

    People have been commenting on Facebook to BBC Radio Cornwall's Laurence Reed's question about whether police still take burglary offences seriously:

    • Colin Day: The police can't be bothered because the CPS can't be bothered so we can't be bothered
    • Keith Sutton: What's the point in reporting it when at the police station they actually ask "and what would you like us to do about it?"
    • Simon James Parramore: Burgled 3 times, last time they were still in the house when the police got there, and still escaped

    You can still let Laurence know your views on 01872 222222 until 15:00.

    13:25: Call to postpone council office move

    East Devon District Council is being asked to postpone an office relocation decision until after the outcome of a tribunal which is examining whether the authority should disclose related reports, the Exeter Express and Echo says.

    The authority is appealing against an information commissioner decision that it should have disclosed information regarding its relocation project after a Freedom of Information request by a Sidmouth resident.

    13:11: Newquay still in space race Matt Pengelly Local Live

    Newquay is still in the running to be the home of Europe's first spaceport.


    The Civil Aviation Authority has updated its shortlist of possible locations for the spaceport - Newquay Airport is in the running against Campbeltown, Glasgow Prestwick, and Stornoway in Scotland as well as Llanbedr in Wales.

    12:55: News on the hour

    The top news stories at 13:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: A 70-year-old woman has been rescued from a swimming pool at Trenance in Newquay and taken to hospital by helicopter.

    BBC Radio Devon: The family of 10-year-old Samuel Crocker, who died at the weekend following a road accident in Crediton, say their lives have been "turned upside down".

    12:44: Blowing the whistle on discrimination? Bill Buckley Presenter, BBC Radio Devon

    There's been a big rise in reports of discrimination within football. Does that mean the sport is getting more serious about unacceptable behaviour or that it's getting worse?

    What's your experience from the pitch, touchline - or even the train? Join the debate on BBC Radio Devon with Bill Buckley from 13:00 on 0345 301 1034.

    12:31: Link road fund delight BBC Radio Devon

    North Devon Council has welcomed government funding to improve safety at a notorious accident black spot and bottleneck.


    The North Devon Link Road is among seven road schemes sharing in £2bn funding - North Devon Council Leader Brian Greenslade said: "This investment scheme has the potential to ease congestion, improve road safety and cut down on travel times. Not only will this be good news for residents and tourists, but businesses and future economic growth too."

    12:17: Tribute for Crediton boy BBC Radio Devon

    The family of Samuel Crocker, who died following a road accident at the weekend, has paid tribute to him.


    The 10-year-old was knocked down on Saturday as he went to visit a friend - his family said: "We all miss our little 'mole' so much and can't begin to imagine how we move on from the devastating situation we are in now."

    A 24-year-old local man is on bail after appearing in court charged with causing death by careless driving.

    12:08: Have you been burgled? Laurence Reed Presenter, BBC Radio Cornwall

    Today we'll be talking about burglary and asking whether the police are taking it seriously enough, after a Labour MP claimed property theft had 'virtually been decriminalised'. Let me know your views - 01872 222222 - I'm on air now.


    Meanwhile gardening equipment worth thousands of pounds has been stolen from Truro City Council sheds at Victoria Park - I've been speaking to Richard Budge from the Council.

    11:57: News on the hour

    The top news stories at 12:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: Cornwall Air Ambulance notches up its 25,000th mission.

    BBC Radio Devon: Emotional tribute to Crediton boy killed in accident.

    11:48: Milestone mission for air ambulance Julie Skentelbery Presenter, BBC Radio Cornwall

    Staff at Cornwall Air Ambulance are celebrating a milestone after their 25,000th mission.


    Last week paramedics helped a mother and baby in Gunnislake suffering serious burns from hot water - the pair were flown to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth in just seven minutes - the road journey would have taken at least half an hour.

    11:36: Kingsteignton accident BBC Travel South West

    The A381 Teignmouth Road in Kingsteignton is partially blocked near the A380 Besigheim Way junction because of an accident.

    The earlier road problems in Cornwall have cleared.

    11:28: Gulls sign McQuilkin BBC Sport

    Torquay United have given midfielder James McQuilkin a contract until the end of the season.


    The 26-year-old has been at Plainmoor on non-contract terms since November and has played seven times for the Gulls in the Conference.

    11:17: Will you be singing along? BBC Radio Cornwall

    How are you planning to celebrate St Piran's Day on Thursday, 5 March?


    To celebrate the patron saint of tinners, BBC Radio Cornwall's Duncan Warren will be broadcasting live from the Golden Lion pub in Port Isaac from 19:00 for a community singing of 'Trelawny' or 'The Song of the Western Men'.

    11:04: High waters Holly Green BBC Weather

    It will feel cold around the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, but if you want to wrap up warm and go for a stroll along the coast here are the tide times.

    10:56: News on the hour

    The top news stories at 11:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: Newquay Airport stays on spaceport shortlist.

    BBC Radio Devon: The government has pledged millions of pounds to upgrade the congested North Devon Link Road.

    10:41: Exeter Prison overcrowded Andrew Segal Local Live

    Overcrowding at Exeter Prison has been criticised by the Howard League for Penal Reform as among the worst in England.

    Exeter Prison

    The category B prison, built in the 1850s, is designed to accommodate 318 inmates, but is currently holding about 530.

    10:29: Slavery action

    Devon and Cornwall Police tweeted this picture: Conference @EdenProject #Cornwall today to discuss what more we can do about modern slavery. #MSConEden

    10:17: Woodburner fire BBC Radio Cornwall

    Firewood stacked around a woodburning stove in west Cornwall caused an unwanted fire after bursting into flames last night.

    Firefighters used a hose reel to put out the flames before throwing the smouldering logs outside - one person was treated for the effects of inhaling smoke.

    10:05: School dinners contest BBC Spotlight

    Dinner ladies from across the south west will battle it out in the regional heats of Britain's School Chef of the Year competition in Plymouth today.


    The cooks have to whip up a healthy balanced two-course meal in just one and a half hours for a maximum of just £1.60 but forget the spotted dick, dishes include triple fish gateaux and creamy panna cotta with roasted figs and honey.

    09:56: News on the hour

    The top news stories at 10:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: Drivers are asked to avoid the eastbound A30 at Fraddon as repair works continue after an accident.

    BBC Radio Devon: Charity raises 'overcrowding' concerns at Exeter Prison.

    09:47: Cornwall travel problems BBC Travel South West

    There's disruption near the A30 at Launceston - the A395 in Launceston is partially blocked westbound near Kennards House, because of a broken down lorry.

    The A392 East Road in Quintrell Downs is partially blocked and busy but moving near the Bridle Way junction, because of an accident.

    09:39: Waste plant divides village Alison Johns BBC Radio Cornwall

    A row over a proposed anaerobic digestion plant has split a quiet village on the Cornwall - Devon border.


    Some people in Boyton near Launceston are concerned about smell, disruption and the transportation of food waste 40 miles by road from Plymouth - the developers have rejected the criticism, saying the plant will provide a good source of renewable energy.

    09:27: Bid to stop exploitation BBC Radio Devon

    A programme to help people with learning disabilities protect themselves from sexual exploitation has been developed in Devon, and is thought to be the first in the country.


    The project is funded by Comic Relief and uses role play and discussions to help people understand the risks - those who work with people with learning disabilities say they are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation because of their need for friendship.

    09:17: Slavery conference BBC Radio Cornwall

    Fears there could be as many as 13,000 victims of slavery currently in the UK are to be discussed at a high level conference in Cornwall today.

    The newly-appointed Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, campaigners, the police and church leaders are due to attend.

    The Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Tim Thornton, said: "How sad it is that we need to have a piece of legislation which is called the Modern Slavery Bill. We all would have hoped that slavery was something in the past. Clearly it is not."

    09:06: Building to be demolished BBC Spotlight

    Work is beginning to demolish a fire-damaged building in Cullompton, branded an eyesore.


    The Harlequin Valet building on the main street has been derelict since 2010 - residents and campaigners from the pre-school club that meets next door are relieved that something is being done.

    08:56: News on the hour

    The top news stories at 09:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: There's a warning modern slavery is a reality in the south west.

    BBC Radio Devon: A Devon project offers training to protect people with learning disabilities.

    08:48: Lad praised for honesty

    The Plymouth Herald is reporting a schoolboy who found a wallet full of cash on a bus has been praised for his honesty after handing it to police.


    Ollie Brooks, 11, from Averton Gifford in the South Hams, was travelling home from Kingsbridge Community College when he found the wallet on the floor of the bus.

    He took it straight to the police so they could trace the owner, and officers have described Ollie as a 'credit to his family, the school and the local community' for his honest and honourable actions.

    08:37: Devon road issues BBC Travel South West
    • There's an accident on Dotton Lane in Newton Poppleford blocking it near the Monkey Lane junction.
    • Congestion is reported on the M5 at Junction 27 - there's slow traffic on A361 westbound in Sampford Peverell at Tiverton in the roadworks area.
    • The A3079 Station Road in Halwill Junction is partially blocked due to an accident - it is busy, but moving near the Station Road junction.
    08:26: Slavery warning Matt Pengelly Local Live

    The chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police is urging the public to be more aware of modern slavery, ahead of a conference in Cornwall today.


    Shaun Sawyer said: "National figures suggest an increase in reports of victimisation in the areas of forced labour, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation, with an estimated 10,000 to 13,000 victims of slavery currently in the UK."

    08:15: Sunshine and showers Kevin Thomas BBC Weather Forecaster

    There will be scattered showers and spells of sunshine today. Some showers will be heavy with hail and perhaps wintry over the moors.


    Moderate west or southwesterly winds will be fresh to strong further west, around showers and also exposed areas elsewhere. Max Temp 7C (45F).

    08:07: A30 Cornwall accident BBC Travel South West

    On the A30 Cornwall Eastbound one lane is closed between Summercourt and Indian Queens, because of a multi-vehicle accident.

    And there's an accident on the Devon/Cornwall border, on the A39 near the turn for Meddon, north of Bude.

    08:00: Good morning! Matt Pengelly Local Live

    I'll be bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather updates for Tuesday.

    If you've got a comment on this service or some news you'd like us to cover, please do email us.



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