Raft of awards for Ashford-based company

Contributed by editor on May 25, 2017 - 03:55 PM


After nearly 30 years in business, Ashford design and build specialist Directline Structures is gearing up for further investment and expansion.


Their innovative approach to construction – bringing together architect, engineer, project manager and contractor into one multi-disciplinary company – enables the firm to deliver the highest quality buildings while saving clients around 25% compared to the general market.

This exceptional approach to designing and building sports hall and pavilions, sixth form centres, offices, industrial units and more has earned Directline Structures a mantle-piece full of awards and this summer the company may be about to receive more accolades.

Construction industry body SECBE has shortlisted the company for SME of the Year in its annual Constructing Excellence Awards in London and the South East. The awards – ‘recognise the best and inspire the rest’ say the organisers – shine a light on companies which excel when it comes to innovation and best practice.

Directline Structures has impressed the judges with its commitment to staff training and development (45 hours a year per employee compared to an industry average of 12 hours), productivity driven by investment in 3D modeling systems, managing project costs, and collaboration with clients and suppliers.

Katy Barker and Duncan Murray with Lord Pendry

The future is looking bright for the company. A new generation is on board with Katy Barker, daughter of founder and Managing Director Duncan Murray, now a chartered Architect and director. An ambitious business plan is in place, with turnover targeted to triple by 2019.

“We are fundamentally very different to our competition because we are a ‘true’ design and build company,” said Duncan. “Our rivals who are consultants don’t have the practical knowledge that we have, while other contractors don’t have the design skills or qualifications. We really do stand out from the crowd.”

In addition to being shortlisted for the Constructing Excellence Awards on 29 June, Directline Structures is a finalist in the Construction Project of the Year category in the Kent Excellence in Business Awards 2017, staged on 22 June at the Kent Event Centre.

The project which has earned Directline Structures a place in the KEiBA finals is a sports pavilion at Langton Green, hailed by the President of the Football Foundation as “architecturally the most impressive” that he has ever opened. Lord Pendry heaped praise on the project when he launched the pavilion on behalf of the UK’s biggest sports charity.

Langton Green  pavilion

Duncan and Katy collaborated closely with the Langton Green Community Sports Association (LGCSA) throughout the eight-month project to provide a bespoke pavilion that not only met their needs but exceeded the Football Foundation’s stringent requirements – all within the £460,000 budget.

When the LGCSA first approached Directline Structures, planning permission had already been granted for the extension of the aging pavilion. Thanks to the company’s one-stop design-and-build approach, however, it was able to offer a new, high-quality pavilion for the same cost as a refurbished one.

Duncan said: “They were sceptical at first and nervous about re-submitting their planning application as they thought they might lose the £384,000 funding from the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund. We showed them how our scheme offered the same provisions but in a much more efficient and attractive building.”

Duncan and Katy prepared 3D visuals to show how the scheme would work, and involved LGCSA in decisions on the building’s appearance.

Katy said: “It has high ceilings which provide exceptional acoustics; large glazed doors to allow spectators and players to move in and out easily on match days; and a kitchen with dual hatches so that food can be served easily inside and outside.”

Duncan said: “Each time we’ve been back to visit we have been so pleased to see it being used by the whole community. It has a popular mother and toddler club and the café is always busy. We are delighted that it has quickly become an invaluable community asset.”

Hub of the community

When the pavilion was launched, LGCSA Chairman Guy Lambert said: “We’re so glad we chose Directline Structures to design and build our pavilion. From the outset Duncan and Katy were honest, approachable and reliable. Katy’s design sits beautifully in its surroundings and we have received numerous comments about how attractive the building is – a modern structure with echoes of tradition.

“We’ve finished our first season since we moved into our new pavilion and it has been a joyous contrast to the tired out clubhouse.”

Demonstrating that awards run in the family, Katy scooped the Young Achiever of the Year award in the 2016 Constructing Excellence Awards, and she was also a finalist in the Young Person in Business category at the Kent Invicta Chamber Awards 2017.

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