Warden Hill Primary School, Cheltenham

Overview

New school building for existing primary school

Challenges

Old school building to remain functional whilst new building built. Use of playing fields for development

Working on behalf of EG Carter and Gloucestershire County Council, McLoughlin Planning was part of a team that successfully delivered planning permission for the replacement school building at Warden Hill Primary School in Cheltenham.

Warden Hill Primary School is a two form entry primary school (420 pupils) located in Durham Close, Warden Hill, Cheltenham. The school is rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted and there had been consideration to expand the school to three form entry. The birth data, alongside existing primary provision in the area showed that the expansion was not required. However, the condition of the school buildings was reviewed and it became clear that they were of significant concern. Detailed investigation showed that an extensive maintenance programme would not be an efficient use of resources and it would be better to replace the school buildings.

In November 2020 Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet approved additional funding to replace the existing school buildings.

Warden Hill School’s site is large enough that the new school building can be built, whilst the old school building is still in daily use by staff and pupils. Once the new building is complete, the old school building will be demolished.

McLoughlin Planning was able to demonstrate the planning policy case as to why this development should go ahead, despite the controversial use of playing fields for development. It was demonstrated that using the playing fields for the new school building was necessary and that it allowed the space currently occupied by the old school building to be re-used after it’s demolition as an improved play space for pupils.

There are specific conditions that have to be met to allow such development because of the value we all place on open spaces for our children. This includes Section 77 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, that local authorities are required to apply for the consent of the Secretary of State for Education to dispose of, or change the use of, land used for maintained schools and academies and following the guidance from Sport England.

The school has been developed to deliver an exemplar 21st century learning space that has been designed to be the most environmentally friendly low carbon primary school in the country. To enable this, it will have high building fabric efficiency, a low carbon heat source using an air source heat pump, on-site electricity generation through PV array, sustainable urban drainage systems and a “Pocket” forest.

Externally, there will be nature areas, playing pitches, daily mile and pump track and external amphitheatre seating for the pupils to enjoy.

We are delighted that ground was broken in November 2021 and that we were able to assist in this exciting project that reflects our continuing involvement with the County Council in the provision of new schools and school buildings.

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