Our long-term project to extend and redevelop the site at Henlow Academy in Bedfordshire reaches its latest phase, with the addition of a new passenger lift to replace an old platform lift. This will enable pupils, staff and visitors with impaired mobility to access the first floor classrooms and facilities, and is a very welcome addition to the Academy site.
Also in this development phase was the refurbishment of the design & technology room and art rooms, refreshing the spaces and giving them a renewed lease of life. A new corridor leads to the Henlow Hub. Two existing rooms were knocked into one to create a larger library/hub space, with a moveable library shelving system to give more flexibility. The interior design scheme for the room combines the four colours that have been used throughout the extension and refurbishment of this block.
Nothing stays the same for long these days, and so it’s almost inevitable that at some stage, your school accommodation will need to either change or grow (or both!). Perhaps a forthcoming increase in the school roll means that additional classroom space is required, or improved facilities (new science labs or DT rooms, for example) are needed to help deliver the national curriculum.
Of course, you are getting on with the important task of running your school and teaching children, and so appointing an experienced project manager in conjunction with suitably qualified architectural designers at the very infancy of a site development project is key to its success.
PCMS Design is such a firm, and our expertise in this field is broad and deep. There are many ways in which we can add value. At feasibility stage, we can properly assess the potential of your building (against DfE guidance) and make recommendations as to how it can be cost-effectively and practically expanded and changed.
We will carefully guide you through all of the various stages involved in a construction project.
We understand the planning process, and have strong links with many local authority planning and building control departments. We will handle the procurement of suitable building contractors, the contract administration and detailed project management of the build.
Accurate cost control is obviously vital for public sector projects and this is a major benefit of using a project manager. And with our emphasis on sustainable construction, we will ensure that the build uses the best, most environmentally-friendly materials and has features such as renewable energy generation as standard.
In essence, using a project manager can save you time and money, ensuring successful and stress-free delivery of your school building projects.
We were delighted recently when Greenleas School in Leighton Buzzard was granted retrospective planning permission for a play canopy on their Kestrel Way site. The large 123m2 canopy comprised of 35mm thick opal polycarbonate roof panels was installed a couple of years ago.
An oversight meant that permission had not been sought prior to construction. Our retrospective application to Central Bedfordshire Council argued that the structure is acceptable in planning policy terms: it aids children with their outdoors learning and supports delivery of the National Curriculum, it has an empathetic design that blends well with the existing school building, and also presents no harm to the neighbouring residential amenity.
Greenleas School happily now has a compliant play canopy for the children to enjoy, and the school also uses it for breakfast and after school clubs.
Our team was delighted to hear last week that we have been shortlisted for a Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Central Region Building Excellence Award 2019.
We are hopeful that our new build sports hall and six classroom construction project at Henlow Academy will achieve success in the ‘Best Educational Building’ category. The project team including Central Bedfordshire Council, Henlow Academy, Cox Clifford Partnership, BSD Consulting Engineers, Marstan BDB and Borras Construction are very pleased that the project has been nominated.
This is our eighth consecutive year of being shortlisted for an Award, and we are all looking forward to attending the black tie Awards Ceremony in Milton Keynes in April. Regional category winners are put forward to the National LABC Awards.
A milestone has been reached in the project to consolidate Lord Williams’s School onto a single site. Consultants acting for the Thame-based academy have submitted the Design Brief for residential development on the Lower School site to Thame Town Council.
This stage in the process is required by the Neighbourhood Plan, and follows a consultation process in which neighbours of the school and Thame residents were shown potential concepts and feedback was sought.
PCMS Design has been involved in advising Lord Williams’s School, liaising with Oxfordshire County Council and assisting with the appointment of planning consultants Lanpro.
The Design Brief before the Council is for a compliant 135-dwelling scheme, and has responded to the feedback received. Housing that is sympathetic to existing adjacent dwellings is being proposed, and the scheme includes public open space, sustainable drainage infrastructure and retains key hedgerows. The proportion of affordable housing will be determined later in the project.
The adoption of the Design Brief will help to deliver the aspirations within the Thame Neighbourhood Plan for housing, and also for consolidating the school at the current Upper School site on Oxford Road.
A significant school development project has just completed at Henlow Church of England Academy to the delight of staff and pupils. PCMS Design was involved from the very outset, taking the Academy from feasibility stage when we examined the potential of providing extra accommodation on site, through to pre-planning, detailed design and specification and then lastly the construction management of the project.
The new building provides a modern four-court sports hall with changing areas, and six classrooms in an attached block. Pupils will be able to benefit from a range of sports including netball, badminton, basketball, hockey and five-a-side football. A giant projector with screen has been installed so the school can use the hall for assemblies and other teaching events. The facilities will be available to hire by the wider community.
Six new humanities and language classrooms provide the latest in educational technology with interactive whiteboards in each. Creating a bright and comfortable teaching environment has been a priority; the classrooms have been designed to meet the space and facility requirements set out by the Department for Education and include fibre optic links, Wi-Fi coverage as well as the latest modern security and fire systems.
This £2.4 million investment in Henlow Church of England Academy’s site was funded by Central Bedfordshire Council and the Education & Skills Funding Agency. Site construction works were completed on time and to budget by Borras Construction Limited.
Head teacher Caren Earp is thrilled with the new facilities: “A big thank you to PCMS Design – with all of their support, design skills and project management expertise we now have a fantastic new building which is going to be of huge benefit to our children, increasing the number and range of opportunities for sport that we can now offer.”
Alex Bond of PCMS Design commented: “We feel very privileged to have been involved with this exciting site development project at Henlow Academy. Effective communication between the design team, local authority staff, specialist consultants, builders and their sub-contractors was the key to its successful completion, ready for the new school year.”
It was exciting last week to be present at the lifting in of a new modular double classroom unit at Maple Tree Lower School in Sandy. The classrooms have been constructed off-site in a specialist factory, which has considerably speeded up the construction and delivery time. From signing contracts with the modular company to installation on site has been a matter of weeks rather than months, and the two classrooms will be up and running towards the end of September.
The ‘bays’ arrive with many fixtures and fittings already installed including walls, doors and ceilings – many already finished off with their final decorated surfaces. Sinks, sanitary ware and WC cubicles are also fitted at the factory, along with external wall finishes such as cedar cladding. The bays are simply craned into position on pre-prepared foundations and bolted into place.
Weather conditions were perfect for the installation which all went according to plan. Head Teacher Cath Bainbridge was on site at the time, and was full of praise for the speed and efficiency of the installation: “These new classrooms will be used by our pre-school and nursery children, and I am thrilled by the quality of the finish, and how quickly you have delivered this project for us.”
On the last day of term, one of our academy clients received excellent news: Government funding has been granted for the construction of two permanent build new classrooms. These will replace an aging 2-class modular unit, and will form part of a large site development project which is currently under construction.
One of the services we offer is the preparation of CIF (Condition Improvement Fund) bids for academies and sixth form colleges for capital works. Bids can be made for projects such as new roofing, heating systems, windows and doors, and also for capital projects such as replacement or refurbishment of classrooms.
Bids to the Condition Improvement Fund are always over-subscribed and the priority is to address significant condition need, and particularly to maintain safe and healthy school sites. A strong case has to be made to the Education & Skills Funding Agency to guarantee success.
The next round of CIF bid funding for 2019/20 projects should take place this autumn, but we can offer advice on how we can assist with your bid year round. If you are an academy or sixth form college, please get in touch for further information.
We reached an important milestone last week when members of our team made the first site visit to a new development project at Henlow Academy in Bedfordshire. This is following our successful application to Central Bedfordshire Council for planning permission on behalf of the Academy, to a building design we had produced.
Construction has begun on a four-court sports hall and new classrooms, which will form the cornerstone of a larger site development project. We have already overseen the construction of a link extension and internal alterations to the main building in 2017, but the Academy will benefit still further from the latest increase in sports provision and additional teaching space.
The principal contractor, Borras Construction, has made a start on foundation trenches with the first inspection completed by Central Bedfordshire Council Building Control. We are looking forward to seeing progress as we oversee the construction throughout the nine month build period.
We have recently completed our second project on the site of St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Caddington. The school was seeking to provide extra accommodation for some of the pupils as a break-out space. Our suggestion was a neat single classroom unit in the form of a timber lodge, with a simple internal space suitable for teaching smaller groups. Fit-out costs were kept to a minimum, and the building is kept warm with electric storage heaters, avoiding the need for expensive service connections.
In addition, the lodge is environmentally-friendly with the use of a timber frame, cladding and recycled building products, as well as low energy lighting. Construction firm JET Construction were respectful and efficient, as well as accommodating last minute requests from the client, creating a well-finished learning environment.
The school is delighted with the new lodge building, and is already seeing the benefits of having the extra independent classroom space.