Behind the Scenes – The Planning Stages of ‘The Spinney.

by Administrator 5. November 2013 09:17



This year on BBC Children in Need, ‘DIY SOS: The Big Reveal’ will feature the story of The Spinney. This purpose built day centre for Little Miracles was built in just 24 hours, and will provide vital support to children with additional needs and their families.

In today’s blog, the Stewart Milne Group team share their experiences of the planning design and preparation that went into making this fantastic project happen.


Mark Cormack, Contracts Manager

“For me the build started with an email asking for volunteers. I replied and the rest was history as they say.

My first visit to site was to meet with the BBC to discuss site logistics in August. It was at this time I met Michelle, the founder of Little Miracles - who told me her story of how the ‘The Spinney’ began. It was at this time I realised that I had definitely done the right thing volunteering for this cause.

Internal meetings began, many a phone call was made, and before I knew it we were on site on Tuesday 17th September.”


Susan Wilson, Architect

“Working on this building has been an experience. It has been like no job I have ever worked on before; in many ways. Firstly, it is for such an amazing cause. Secondly, there was no real brief - only a list of rooms required and a site. Thirdly, and most challenging, as all materials were gifted, we couldn't always get the items which had been specified and a fair degree of re-design was required throughout.

Each of the 238 cladding panels has a unique reference, to allow its location to be identified within the giant jigsaw puzzle in the design. I was tossing and turning in my sleep - having dreams of multi-coloured cladding panels of all shapes and sizes. Will they fit?! Will they be the right colour?!

It has been a challenging, exciting and enjoyable experience and I hope, when completed, the building will provide a fun and stimulating environment for Michelle, her staff and the children they provide care for.”


John Smith, Head of Technical for Stewart Milne Timber Systems

“Early one Tuesday morning at the end of July I got a phone call asking if I could ‘help out with some design co-ordination on a small project in Peterborough’. By the time I got to the Tannochside office the details are becoming clear – a 9 day build process for BBC Children in Need, and I need to be in Peterborough on Friday morning. Wow!

The meeting on site was really great to understand the project and meeting Michelle was truly humbling and inspirational. We saw the site and paced out the building and crane locations within half an hour of being on site. The BBC team were really motivated and up for the challenge. I discussed the project with my colleague Stuart Henderson over the weekend, and by Monday morning he’s designed a fabulous building and garden layout which will absolutely make a huge difference to the charity, and kids and families they help.”


Stuart Henderson, Technical Director

“When I was asked to become involved in the design of the Little Miracles project, my first impression was that while timescales seemed impossible, the project was very exciting. Since training as an architect I have always wanted to be involved in a project like this.

We had 5 days to complete our designs and submit them for planning in order to achieve an approval by the 3rd September. Those 5 days were great fun, bouncing ideas between all of the team at the Stewart Milne Group to come up with something special:

‘can we make it more complicated?’

‘let’s add more glass’

‘can we add bubbles?’

‘we need more daylight’

‘we want more colour’.”

Watch ‘DIY SOS: The Big Reveal’ on Wednesday 13th November as part of this year’s BBC Children In Need to see The Spinney build in action.


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