Isle of Sheppey SEN School
Welcome to our proposals for the new Isle of Sheppey Special School. This page is dedicated to introducing the scheme to the local community and welcomes feedback from the local community that will help inform the final proposals submitted for planning approval.
The new Isle of Sheppey Special School will provide pupils from the Isle of Sheppey and surrounding area with specialist provision to enable pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties to reach their full potential within a warm, caring, stable and supportive environment. The children’s potential should not be limited, and the new school, catering for pupils aged 11-16 with social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH) and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), will provide additional support and dedicated facilities to allow these pupils to thrive.
The site is situated to the North of Halfway Houses Primary School in an area of open space that has been retained for educational use by Kent County Council. The site is bordered to the west by the access route to Halfway Houses Primary School which will be shared with the new Special School. To the north and east site boundaries are a number of existing trees which will be retained as far as possible.
Reds10 is a vertically integrated off-site construction specialist, who have been appointed as the main contractor for Isle of Sheppey Special School. With a wealth of experience in the Education Sector, Reds10 were successful in gaining a spot on to the Department for Education’s Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) Framework thanks to a successful track record, exemplary health and safety standards and consistency in providing amazing spaces for clients, end users and local communities.
HLM Architects are a top 30 UK architectural practice by size and their largest sector is education - regularly recognised by industry for design expertise, with numerous project and practice awards, for example shortlisted in 2019 for BD Education Architect of the Year and named as Education Architect of the Year by Education Estates in 2018.
DHA Planning are planning consultants who will oversee the public engagement and planning application on behalf of Reds10 and the Department for Education. DHA have a wealth of experience in the education sector.
The proposals are funded by the Department for Education and follow their detailed design requirements to ensure that the school comprises the type and quality of teaching accommodation necessary to meet best practice standards.
The proposed site layout looks to bring the building forward in the site to provide a more engaging and active frontage, bring the facility within the heart of the site. The front of the site will be populated with trees and greenery to break up the schools parking facilities.
The building will be located as close to the site access as possible and site in the heart of the site to maintain separation to the boundaries and neighbouring properties.
The internal layout has been developed following extensive engagement with The SABDEN Multi-Academy Trust, with their input based on extensive experience of delivering outstanding SEMH schools.
The school is designed to be clearly separated into distinct ‘zones’ within the building which separate year groups and enables pupils to feel safe and secure within their own core teaching area. Each year group zone is self-contained with three general teaching classrooms and pastoral spaces which pupils will spend the majority of their school day in. The zones have been staggered to reduce visibility between year groups, allowing pupils to focus by limiting distractions.
Pupils will benefit from a broad and enriching curriculum delivered within the school, with two specialist teaching zones (one on the ground floor and one on the first floor) where Art, Construction, ICT, Food Technology, and Science classrooms are located. A Forest classroom is also in this zone which has direct access to an external Forest School located in the east of the school site.
A double height sports hall and dining facility are located at the southern end of the school building.
The proposed external materials are a natural palette and have been selected to both respond to the local context whilst creating a distinct identity for the school that is opening and welcoming. Vertical timber cladding and fibre cement (Cedral) planks form the basis for this elevational treatment, with the colours of this Cedral cladding curated to display complimentary tones of grey to articulate each block. The double height volume of the sports hall is entirely clad in vertical timber boards which relates to the neighbouring Primary School to the south.
The main visitor entrance is clearly highlighted with a timber clad canopy. The door and window frames around the school will be in grey tones which will complement the façade materials.
All the materials are hard wearing and will weather well, providing the school with a high quality yet low maintenance building.
The landscape proposals aim to create a series of secure external school spaces, incorporating a balance of areas for both hard and soft play. Grass seeded areas of soft play are proposed extending from the edges of hard play out to the site boundary. The hard play games courts and hard surfaced areas will be softened through feature planting areas incorporating an ornamental mix of flowering shrubs, grasses and herbaceous accent planting when appropriate. Other dedicated teaching spaces for horticultural, ecological and forest skills are incorporated into the designs.
Frontage & Public Areas
The development frontage, public areas and car park will be softened with planting beds to the edges of the vehicular circulation and access to the site. The proposed feature planting areas would incorporate an ornamental scheme of mixed-species grasses, herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees. The frontage shall be secured with mesh fencing softened through proposed native mixed hedgerow and mixed-species tree line planting.
The external site boundary shall be secured with an anti-climb mesh perimeter fencing of heights between 1.8 and 2.4m.
To the north and eastern boundaries of the site existing trees and vegetation shall be retained to provide natural screening, shade and shelter to the external space. To the south and western boundaries fence lines shall be softened with a mix of long wildflower grasses, hedgerow and tree planting. Native mixed species hedge planting will offer visual enclosure of the site from the Halfway Houses school playground to the south.
The site falls to the north across the proposed grass playing fields and external spaces. The surrounding ground from the playing fields to the site boundary shall be seeded with native mixed-species wildflower grassland to provide areas of habitat and improve biodiversity across the site.
Other seeded areas around the perimeter of the site shall be interspersed by native mixed-species trees and shrub planting. The proposed tree planting would be grouped informally to mirror the existing vegetation being retained to the north and east. This will allow some softening of views onto the proposed building from both outside and across the site.
A habitat area of native mixed-species wildflower grassland is proposed to the north east corner of the site. The native wildflower grassland would assist in providing foraging and habitat potential for species of small invertebrates and birds. Existing tree groups and tree line planting will be managed to define and enclose areas within the site, providing seasonal interest and habitat potential, for bird, bat and invertebrate species.
A dedicated horticulture area is provided to the south of the school playground incorporating a number of raised beds, polytunnel and storage shed. This area will be dedicated to horticultural studies and offering pupils opportunities throughout the year to study gardening and horticultural techniques.
Within the area of an existing tree group to the north east corner of the site it is proposed to create a forest skills area. The purpose of this area is to introduce the school pupils to the natural environment including activities such as foraging, shelter building, tree climbing, campfire cooking, woodwork and nature art.
Isle of Sheppey SEN has been designed to achieve Net Zero Carbon for regulated energy, through a thermally efficient building envelope, all electric services and on-site solar photovoltaic array. The school has been designed and modelled in line with the principles of the energy hierarchy in order to provide a future proofed, sustainable and comfortable environment for the pupils and staff.
Energy associated with space heating has been minimised by a highly efficient fabric, air tight structure and careful thermal bridging strategy all of which are achieved through robust offsite construction. All of the teaching spaces, offices and communal areas have been designed to achieve high levels of natural daylight. Achieving high levels of natural daylighting will not only reduce the energy demand for lighting, but it improves the wellbeing for pupils and staff. Ventilation throughout will be hybrid and mechanical heat recovery ventilation, in order to maintain a comfortable environment in terms of air quality and acoustics.
Highly efficient Low and Zero Carbon heat pump technology is used to provide the space heating, cooling and hot water demand of the building. At roof level, solar photovoltaics have been designed to offset 100% of the regulated carbon emissions generated by the school to achieve Net Zero Carbon.
Access & Parking
Vehicular and pedestrian access to the site will be derived from the existing access road for the Halfway Houses Primary School, accessed from Danley Road. Due to the nature of the school, it is anticipated that the majority of pupils will be brought by Local Education Authority (LEA) transport. To ensure that these vehicles are accommodated within the site confines, a dedicated drop-off and collection area has been provided. In addition, the onsite parking arrangement has been developed to provide internal stacking space for vehicles to wait within the site during the peak periods. The start and finish times of the school will also be staggered with the adjacent Halfway Houses Primary School.
The onsite parking provision accords with the needs of the site and with Swale Borough Council and Kent County Council’s parking standards. Secure bicycle storage will also be provided, and the school will promote and monitor sustainable travel initiatives via their Travel Plan.
The school are committed to delivering and operating a school which is at the heart of the community and propose to make the aspects of the facility available for community use outside of school hours. This could include a range of uses including evening classes, sporting use and meetings.
Reds10 specialise in modular construction allowing the majority of building work to be undertaken in the offsite factory in Driffield, East Yorkshire. The work undertaken offsite predominately features the completion of modular superstructures, floors, ceilings, internal walls, glazing and roof construction. This process greatly reduces the time necessary onsite, thus minimising disruption as much as possible to residents as well as quickening the construction process.
It is anticipated that should the project be granted planning permission works are scheduled to commence in June 2022 with the project expected to reach completion in June 2023.
We aim to reduce any disruption to the community and we will hold monthly drop-in sessions where members of the estate are able to engage with our site management team and ask any questions they may have.
Comments and questions on these plans closed at 17:00 on 24th September 2021. All comments received will be reviewed by the design team alongside comments received from the Council. These will inform the final scheme that will be formally submitted for planning approval. A planning application is anticipated for submission in early October with a target to be determined in January 2022. As part of the application process, the Council will formally consult residents and other bodies.