Popular middle school Henlow Academy in Bedfordshire is looking to provide additional pupil places in the near future, and came to us to prepare a design and specification for an exciting site development.
A planning application has just been submitted to Central Bedfordshire Council for a new four-court sports hall with associated changing rooms and a six classroom, two-storey block. The sports hall will allow the Academy to substantially expand the range of sports on offer, particularly during the colder months, and will be a valuable addition to the local community because it will be available for sports teams and clubs to hire outside school hours.
As the Academy will be have a temporary increase in pupils over the next 3-4 years extra classroom space is required, and our design incorporates the latest in classroom technology such as interactive white boards, wi-fi connectivity and automatic light and CO2 sensors.
A considerable amount of consultation was carried out before submission of the application in order to iron out any potential design issues in advance.
We are hopeful for planning approval in September.
A family in a village to the east of Oxford was extremely pleased this week to receive planning consent from South Oxfordshire District Council for a two storey side extension to their home. Because the house is situated within the Oxford Green Belt, a convincing case had to be made that the scheme complied with current planning policy for development with the Green Belt.
SODC Green Belt planning policy states that an extension should be no greater than 40% of the volume of the original dwelling. As the premises had already been extended to the rear, our design brought the total volume added since first construction to 65%. This is outwith planning policy, and our argument centred on how much the dwelling could potentially be extended using permitted development rights alone. Our convincing explanation, along with a sympathetic design, was accepted by planners.
Once extended, the house will have a new master bedroom and en suite bathroom upstairs and the added benefit of a shower room and utility on the ground floor, creating a more spacious and attractive family home.
A property in Buckinghamshire has been transformed recently by conversion from an uninspiring dormer bungalow into an impressive spacious family home.
Our clients contacted us after purchasing a house in a good village location, but in need of substantial improvement and refurbishment. The house had already been extended at the back, so instead of extending outwards we recommended raising the roof by one metre; our design allowed the awkward rooms in the roof space to be brought back into use as light and spacious bedrooms, with the added feature of an attractive landing and oak staircase.
By designing this modest upwards extension, we minimised the impact on neighbouring properties, and avoided the need to ‘nibble’ into the garden or drive.
The property has been reconfigured downstairs too; there are new bathrooms throughout, a refitted kitchen / breakfast room, separate utility room and study, and the exterior has a more modern sleek look with rendered walls and aluminium windows. Everyone is delighted with the transformation.
Our team was delighted last Friday to attend the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Central Region Awards ceremony in Milton Keynes. This Black Tie awards dinner is held each year to recognise and celebrate the very best construction projects in the area in a number of different categories.
This year, PCMS Design was a finalist in two awards categories. The first was Best Public Service Building for our work on a new Community Pavilion for Chinnor Parish Council. This large mixed use building incorporates changing rooms, a social hub including function room, as well as the Parish Council office.
The second finalist nomination was Best Educational Project for our design and project management of a new three classroom block on the site of Biggleswade Academy, with some facilities specially designed for pupils with physical and sensory disabilities.
We were honoured to receive these nominations and to attend the ceremony with clients, contractors and building control representatives involved in each construction project, and would like to congratulate all of the winners from the evening.
Planning permission has just been granted this week for a new free-standing community classroom block on the site of Hatfield Community Free School.
School staff appointed PCMS Design when realised they needed a building close to existing playing fields to serve as additional classroom space, and also to provide some shelter and changing areas for the adjacent pitches. Our feasibility process identified a suitable site, a concept design was approved, and we negotiated with the Planning Department at Welwyn Hatfield District Council to iron out a number of planning issues prior to permission being granted.
Care has been taken to design a building which reflects that of the existing school, which was constructed 5 years ago. The wish is to proceed with construction as quickly as possible, in order to provide much needed classroom space.
It can be surprising how quickly the installation of new classrooms can be turned around when the need arises. In the case of this Bedfordshire school, once planning permission had been secured, the instruction to proceed was given to a specialist modular contractor who took only a month from factory build to installation on site.
PCMS Design staff had visited the factory only a couple of weeks previously to see the seven modular bays being manufactured and fitted out, so it was satisfying to see them being lifted into position so quickly. Two classrooms each measuring 56m2 will be available, plus a 42m2 group room, WCs and storage. Quality standards have been maintained throughout the manufacturing process, and the resulting building will deliver excellent insulation properties and performance.
The modular option offers a cost-effective and quick solution for schools (or businesses) requiring additional space in a hurry.
A new vacancy has arisen within our team for an experienced Architectural Designer / Building Engineer.
The primary aim is to support projects by developing designs and specifications according to strict deadlines and to meet a budget. The role includes liaising with other team members and third-party contractors or consultants in order to co-ordinate design details and resolve technical issues.
The successful candidate will have a university degree or equivalent qualification in the field of architecture, architectural technology, engineering or building surveying, and a minimum of 2 years direct work experience in a building design capacity, including aspects of planning and specification. A good working knowledge of current construction techniques, UK statutory requirements (Building Regulations, Building Bulletins, CDM Regulations, etc) and non-statutory design guidance is essential, in addition to demonstrated experience in CAD.
The experience of working both independently and in a team is important. The ability to effectively prioritise and execute tasks in a time-constrained environment is crucial, as are strong interpersonal skills.
Some local / regional travel may be required for the purpose of meeting with clients or contractors, and candidates will need to have a full driving licence. Depending upon the nature of the projects, there may be a requirement for a DBS check to be carried out.
We are flexible about full-time or part-time hours for the right candidate, and would also consider freelance candidates.
To apply for this vacancy, please email your CV with a covering letter explaining why you will be a good fit for this position and stating salary expectations.
For the third year running, PCMS Design has achieved the status of ‘Accredited Planning Agent’ with Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC). This scheme has been created by the Council to recognise continued regular compliance with planning regulations, and also adherence to CBC’s standard Development Management guidelines when submitting planning applications.
To qualify, all applications must be submitted in an accurate and timely manner, with the relevant amount of detail and the correct accompanying information.
Staff from PCMS Design regularly attend planning seminars and consultation sessions at the Council offices, and also have a good working relationship with officers from the local authority. We look forward to this continuing over the forthcoming months, as there are a number of planning applications in preparation for submission.
Aylesbury Vale District Council recently granted planning permission for three of our residential projects in the space of a week.
Two of our clients live next door to each other in a pair of semi-detached dwellings. We advised that it can sometimes be easier to apply for permission to carry out construction works together. In this case, permission was given for both to construct a two storey rear extension to their homes, larger than they could have achieved independently. There should be cost savings available if both appoint the same builders to carry out the extension works simultaneously.
Our third residential client located near our office in Haddenham would like to build a modest single storey rear extension and also convert their garage with a view to creating a larger kitchen / breakfast room. Planning permission was granted 10 days ahead of the deadline, and everyone is very pleased to have received consent so quickly.
As part of our work for local authority schools, we offer consultancy services to examine building provision within school sites seeking to provide for future projected pupil numbers.
One such project is to look at the provision of school accommodation to serve Special Educational Needs (SEN) services within the Central Bedfordshire Council area. We have been appointed by the Council to analyse all six of their SEN school sites and present our report with future recommendations. The six sites are: Oakbank School (Leighton Buzzard), Chiltern School Primary and Secondary sites (both Dunstable), Weatherby Secondary School (Dunstable) and Ivel Valley Primary and Secondary School sites (both in Biggleswade).
Our approach will involve assessing current SEN accommodation and facilities and comparing this to the area guidelines, with the aim of making recommendations for future provision.