Case Study: Design and Delivery of Ewell Grove Primary School under Restrictive Planning Constraints
Time: 12:25 - 12:50
Date: Wednesday 17 October
Ewell Grove Infant and Nursery School is located at the centre of Ewell Village Conservation Area in the London Borough of Epsom and Ewell. This OFSTED Outstanding school was oversubscribed and so the scheme set to double the capacity from 240 to 450 children into a full primary school. The main building, constructed in 1916,… Read more »Education Estates 2019
Ewell Grove Infant and Nursery School is located at the centre of Ewell Village Conservation Area in the London Borough of Epsom and Ewell. This OFSTED Outstanding school was oversubscribed and so the scheme set to double the capacity from 240 to 450 children into a full primary school. The main building, constructed in 1916, is of special architectural interest due to its distinctive arts and craft period character and sits within close proximity that includes several grade II listed buildings. The site itself is highly constrained due to an overall area of just 5700sqm, a significant number of mature trees up to 22m tall, an eaves height restriction of 5.2m on the north boundary and areas of shared access rights.
The project initiated in 2015 and suffered two major setbacks at planning stage, the first was quickly dismissed by the planning authorities due to an entirely insensitive design, and the second, met legal complications due to development within an area of land with shared access rights. It can be said that if the council had any alternative sites elsewhere then they would have been utilised instead, however this was not the case. New school places still had to be created to meet demand and so the council had no choice but to continue the problematic process with planning authorities to progress the scheme. The third planning attempt was initiated in July 2016 by HLM, and after numerous detailed discussions with authorities it was finally successful. Key to this approval was a highly developed application which included all key details, specification and an on-site material board along with the commitment to a traditional procurement method. Together these gave the officers enough confidence to approve the application and were truly the deciding factors of the decision. The project is current under construction and programmed for completion in August 2018.
Such a scheme demanded a highly contextual, yet undeniably contemporary design approaches. The project consists of a new 940sqm teaching block sits prominently on the street frontage and solidifies the junction between the existing school and the neighbouring terrace houses with intersecting gable ends. The new 330sqm hall and kitchen block takes a different approach, instead responding to the decorative, well ordered rear façade of the existing building and the area of heavily wooded soft landscaping to the South, with double gable end façades at both ends and scorched timber cladding. The existing 1040sqm building is also under refurbishment, offering an improved layout and updated finishes. In total a modest overall budget of just under £4.8m was available which includes all fees and associated costs, however this was under severe pressure due to the lost design fees on earlier schemes and increasing market costs.
In summary the scheme is an example of developed areas struggling to meet the demands of a growing population and the increasing number of required school places. In such circumstances planning authorities may object to the development of such sites and so applicants must ensure comprehensive and early engagement as well as striving to achieve the highest calibre of design and quality to increase the likelihood of success.
- Luke Riggall HLM Architects