2FE School Extension, Weatherall’s School, Soham, Cambridgeshire

About This Project

A proposed extension to the existing school, providing 630 places, instead of the current 420 places, with associated landscape improvements & outdoor learning facilities.
It was necessary to assess trees, ecological value & provide a detailed landscape design strategy with supporting reports, to be developed over 3 phases of construction; specifically to include Milestones 2, 3 & 4 for Phases 1 & 2. The first phase has already been completed, with the construction of a new grass & hard court sports facility, with extensive tree planting, setting the context for the future phases of development. This will provide the additional site area required by the school as it expands to 3FE.
Under Phase 2, a two-storey extension is to be added to the existing building which will provide a new entrance, sports hall & additional classrooms, with remodelling of the car park to provide separate parking for the School & adjacent Health Centre. The landscape strategy includes creation of a number of outdoor classrooms, located to the north & south of the proposed extension, incorporating an existing wildlife garden & trees. To the south of the extension, one outdoor classroom is to be created below 3no. Birch trees, surfaced with a raised timber deck to avoid root impact; enclosed with low hazel weave fences & surrounded by robust, low maintenance planting. The decking & seating shall be made from recycled plastic to provide a robust, vandal resistant & low maintenance finish.
To the north of the hard court, new hedges have been used to enclose a proposed pond area, containing a fenced off jetty, with marginal & aquatic planting, with significant new tree planting required to meet ‘very good’ BREEAM standards. Other mitigation includes the introduction of a number of bird & bat boxes & wood piles, provided to replace lost habitats. These combined proposals shall promote biodiversity, protect sensitive ecological areas & provide a network of wildlife corridors, whilst integrating wildlife within the existing landscape & new planting. These shall be maintained & managed by the school & used wherever possible, as an educational feature within the curriculum. Between the school building & the woodland edge, an enclosed area has been identified for raised planters, a polytunnel, compost area & shed for ‘learning to grow’ activities.
Phase 3 of the development shall see the introduction of a new access through the existing playing fields leading to the new Soham Eastern Gateway Development; a new business park & commercial centre for East Cambridgeshire. The school playing field provision will be relocated to the current allotments & the school grounds will expand eastwards.

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