Airbase & HQ

Futureproofing our service for the people of Devon

BREAKING NEWS - here's how we're making our build fit for the future - Read more

***  Read about our plans   ***

Investing in such an important project as a New Airbase & HQ requires a great deal of research, preparation and planning, well in advance of even a blueprint.

It's extremely important to us that our supporters are kept up to date at every step of the research, development, planning and finally, execution and build stages of the journey.

Below is a summary of the work we have already undertaken by May 2022. If you haven’t already, visit ‘the Challenge’ page for the reasons why this is such an important project for the charity, for our operations and for Devon and the communities we serve.

Stage 1: Needs & Aspirations

Because this build brings together our operational team, currently located at the Exeter airbase, with our charity team, which is located at our Exeter head office or elsewhere, every aspect of the organisation needed to be considered and consulted so that the integrated solution can be designed to support an integrated approach.

We brought together the thoughts, aspirations, and vision for the new Airbase & HQ from across the whole organisation to help ensure as many of our collective requirements can be met within budget as possible. This is the first stage of the project and those needs will be further refined and streamlined as the project develops.

Creating the brief

We have employed local companies, Ward Williams Associates (Construction Consultants) and Grainge Architects (experts in commercial builds), to generate a preliminary design brief. This initial phase will ensure we plan for a build that is sustainable and fit for our current and future needs. Every aspect of the project must be aligned with our ethos and underpinned by our strategic pillars and, of course, the best possible use of charity funds.

The consultants have begun the process of bringing together our collective needs and aspirations and to establish how the new Airbase & HQ can best support our ‘workflow’.

Out of this will emerge an indication of a layout, which will help the architects (whom we will invite to tender for the project) to form an idea of the build’s scale and function of the spaces.

Stage 2: Feasibility Stage- May 2022

The feasibility stage focuses on focus on turning our needs and aspirations into a deliverable and achievable plan. There are many variables that must be considered, from factoring in things like inflation (to the cost of labour or building materials) to potential for generating income in the future.

We must make sure that the anticipated build does not double up on features, but rather makes rational multi-functional use of the space. We must prioritise what is essential and will ensure the build is future-proofed.

The architects are currently producing a summary of the requirements which will form an outline plan, helping us to determine the amount of land we will need, and support is in the tendering process at the next stage of the project, when we will secure the external project team.

What happens next?

Over the coming weeks, we will take forward the most suitable plot of land that will allow for future growth and developments.

Documents from Ward Williams and Grainge Architects will be used as a potential site plan for the land acquisition and tendering process, to include a work schedule, some initial room plans and an idea of costings.

Once the feasibility study has been concluded, we will look to deliver a procurement process which will secure the main delivery team of architects, project managers, and quantity surveyors, which may take a couple of months.

Summer 2022

Over the course of the summer, our external project team will develop plans for the building and individual rooms and spaces within it. This is where the exciting work starts and we will need to break down each space into how it will need to be used, what it needs to include, and how each space is related to another (building flows and connectivity). This requires significant thought and planning. All staff will have an opportunity to input at a more granular level during this part of the project.

DAA and the external project team will have pre-planning discussions with East Devon District Council to determine the feasibility of a new Airbase & HQ in East Devon and to consider all relevant planning policies and other considerations associated with the proposed development.

This gives us an opportunity to discuss any mitigation of the proposed development, including any planning conditions, as well as identify the information required to accompany a formal planning application later in the year.

Stage 3: Formal Planning Application

Stage 3 will involve a formal full planning application for the new Airbase & HQ and although this timeframe is dependent on many factors, we hope to have completed this stage by late winter 2022. This would be a major milestone in the project as we look to begin the build in 2023.