Kent County Council has granted detailed planning consent for Whitfield Aspen School; a unique and popular mainstream primary school which has a large specialist resourced provision for pupils with SEN in Whitfield, Kent.
Pellings, the integrated design, property and construction consultancy developed the design for the new satellite school forming the expansion of Whitfield Aspen School in Whitfield, the growing residential suburb of Dover.
Neil Werner, Partner and Head of Architecture at Pellings, says:
“the School’s ethos is to provide an inclusive school where mainstream pupils and pupils with varying special educational needs share the learning environment and school activities. The School is rare in its approach to combining mainstream and Special Educational Needs (SEN) pupils in a way where boundaries are blurred, and children mix in both learning and play activities.”
“Pellings has worked closely with the School and Client to create a brief for the new satellite school to pursue a design reflecting the School’s vision and values: ‘Learning Together with Aspiration, Imagination and Determination’. This will ensure the continuation of the School’s inclusive approach. The design was developed to address the practicalities of locating school accommodation and activities over two sites while continuing to meet the needs and aspirations expressed during interrogation of the brief. It was also of key importance to ensure that the new school building promotes a strong connection between the existing Whitfield community and the new evolving community.”
Due to the major residential development plans for Whitfield, with up to 6,000 homes being built over the next 30 years, Whitfield Aspen School will develop as a two-site school – expanding from 2-form mainstream plus 1-form SEN to 4-form mainstream plus 2-form SEN entry provision to meet the needs of the growing community. The new satellite school, located along Archers Court Road, is being built as part of Section 106 agreement, with a residential developer providing the site and contributing financially to the construction of the School.
The new site is approximately 500 metres from the present Whitfield Aspen school.
The consented new school building comprises two floors of accommodation arranged to create three sides to an enclosed external courtyard. Two classroom blocks, containing mainstream and SEN provision, bookend a central block providing shared and specialist space and the School’s administration hub. The public face of the School building has been articulated via a play with planes and materials and the presentation of a large element of double height glazing.
The central courtyard offers a sheltered informal area for play and learning accessed from mainstream/SEN classrooms. Beyond these shared spaces lies the playing field which is accessible to all.
The School will be built in two phases; the first of which will provide the central block and one classroom wing including SEN and mainstream provision, and the second will provide the remaining classroom wing.
The School design has used the topography of the site to provide changes of level within the building to articulate the design and also to encourage development of children’s mobility skills.
The School’s car park, sited to the north-east of the proposed new building, provides in excess of 140 car parking spaces to meet the parking requirements. of the site.AA parents’ drop off zone has been created within the site boundary for safety and to avoid congestion on the access road which will serve the new school, residential development and local community. The vehicle management has been designed to enable mini-bus/taxi drop-off for pupils below a continuous canopy leading directly to the main pupil entrance.
The site slopes from North West to South East which has, in addition to the internal level changes, lead to challenges in the design of external spaces. However, gentle banks falling to and from the edges of the sports field create interest in the landscape and provide a back drop to areas of soft landscape and planting.
Pellings has many years experience of designing both mainstream and special needs schools including Willow Dene and Foxfield schools in Greenwich, London, and Goat Lees School in Ashford, Kent, among others.