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.
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.
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.
We were delighted yesterday to hear about our nomination for two Central Region 2017 LABC Awards. LABC (Local Authority Building Control) organise the regional awards each year to recognise excellence within the construction industry.
Our nominations are in the categories of Best Public Service Building for Chinnor Community Pavilion, and Best Educational Building for a new 3-classroom block on the site of Biggleswade Academy.
This is the 6th year running that we have received a nomination, and follows our success last year in the ‘Best Partnership with a LA Building Control Team’ category when we won the Central Region Award.
Our team is looking forward to the Awards Ceremony on Friday 5th March in Milton Keynes, and keeping their fingers crossed for continued success!
We were delighted last week to hear that planning permission has been granted by Bedford Borough Council for a new two classroom modular unit to be located within the grounds of Shortstown Primary School. This School serves a community just to the south east of Bedford. A growth in pupil numbers has resulted in a shortfall of teaching space, and so the modular unit will be used to boost the number of classrooms available.
Our bespoke design created a simple form and layout for the unit, which has a footprint of just under 200m2. There are centrally located facilities, including a separate room for smaller teaching groups or meetings and WCs. The appearance will be enhanced with horizontal natural cedar cladding.
School staff are really pleased with the positive planning outcome, and are presently engaged in finding a contractor to construct and install the bespoke unit which will be ready for occupation this Spring.
Another successful educational project was handed over earlier this week, when a two-classroom modular unit was completed on time and within budget. The new classrooms are at Ivel Valley, a special school located in East Bedfordshire for children with moderate to severe physical impairment and special needs.
Once contracts had been signed, the whole build and installation took only 12 weeks. Opting for modular units not only helps with limited budgets, but also offers a quick turnaround for sites that need additional accommodation in a hurry. Modern modular units comply with all the latest construction regulations, and can even be disguised to look like a permanent building! This particular unit has attractive stained timber cladding. There is also flexibility inside; our bespoke design includes not only the classrooms but also a hygiene/changing room with shower, storage space and two individual group rooms. The classrooms each have an interactive ‘teaching wall’.
Ivel Valley’s Head and teaching staff are thrilled with the new two-classroom block, and are already putting it to good use.
This year has seen the completion of a number of site development projects at Denbigh High School in Luton, four of which we have been involved with. The latest to reach completion is the construction of an extension at the rear of the main school building to provide a larger area for the Chiltern Learning Trust administration team.
There were a number of technical challenges to overcome in order to extend out from the existing two-storey building, which dates from the 1930s and has distinctive windows, some of them arched. We therefore designed a flat-roof extension including windows with glazing bars which harmonise with those around it. We obtained planning permission and building control approval for the new block and project managed the build.
Inside, there is a new open-plan office for staff, together with three separate office and meeting rooms, new toilets and a delivery room, all of which meet the aspirations of the Trust’s expanding administration team. This is part of a longer-term aim to establish a central hub for the Trust in order to rationalise support services.
Denbigh High School is well known throughout Luton; originally constructed in the 1930s, it has an impressive façade making it a local landmark.
The main entrance, however, was in need of modernising. We produced a design for the internal spaces that included installation of a new reception counter, refurbishment and extension of the main office, introduction of a new door opening for the head teacher’s PA and the creation of a dramatic modern entrance hall with tall glazed double doors and archway above.
The original entrance had distinctive dark timber antique panelling throughout. During the project, the contractor’s carpenters painstakingly removed, adapted and reinstalled the panelling in the refurbished corridor
The result is an impressive entrance hall in which to greet visitors, and improved office work spaces for staff. Staff at Denbigh, which is consistently rated ‘Outstanding’ by OFSTED, are delighted with the alterations.
PCMS Design is currently working on a number of projects for Ivel Valley School in Biggleswade, and construction work has just begun on a new two-classroom modular unit for which we created a bespoke design. Once we had administered the planning application and building regulations plan approval process, we assisted the school with procurement of suitable modular manufacturers.
Modular ‘bays’ are pre-assembled from panels in the contractor’s factory. Windows, doors, internal walls and floors are all put together in advance of site delivery. This enables the construction timetable to be far quicker than a conventional build, and also keeps costs down.
Our designers paid a visit to the factory this week along with client representatives to see how manufacture was progressing, and everyone was impressed by the speed of production. On-site preparation works have begun; we will visit the school again shortly to watch the pre-formed modular ‘bays’ being craned into position.
Sections of the modular classroom are lifted into place
Denbigh High School in Luton has commissioned a number of different construction and improvement projects to take place, and builders are making the most of the six week summer holiday to make good progress. The School has an impressive main building which dates from the 1930s, but consequently it does need an ongoing programme of maintenance and development.
PCMS is currently managing four separate schemes: a refurbishment of the main entrance, an extension to the administration block, a new two-classroom modular unit and finally an extension to the front car park. Regular site visits are made to check on progress and answer any technical questions that the builders may have encountered.
Works are scheduled to be completed by the start of the new term in September, although the admin block project will take longer to finish due to its scale and complexity. We are looking forward to seeing the finished projects put to good use shortly.
Installation of the block and beam floor for the Administration block extension