Midlands & East Anglia

Children’s needs are top priority for exciting new school

Carlton Digby School

The new Carlton Digby School in Mapperly, Nottingham, will cater for a range of very special children when it opens for the start of the autumn term in September 2012.

Designed by Nottinghamshire County Council, the new purpose-built school building will cater for pupils from the ages of three to nineteen, all of whom have profound or multiple learning difficulties. The project has been fully funded by the Nottinghamshire County Council capital programme and replaces the existing school on the site.

Willmott Dixon Construction is the main contractor for the £8.2 million project, which began onsite in July 2011.

Carlton Digby School

The building has been designed in consultation with urban design specialists, highways teams, Crime Prevention Force Liaison Officers and a Disabled Access Officer. Many of the pupils at Carlton Digby have severe physical disabilities and the new building subsequently had to cater for this.

Covering 3353 square metres of space over three floors, the school is a steel-frame building with a single ply roof, aluminium windows and external doors. The building also features timber internal doors, glazed curtain walling and wood effect weather-tight aluminium panelling.

Carlton Digby School

In addition to the classrooms, staffroom, administration and meeting space, the new school also boasts a range of exciting facilities. These include a hydrotherapy pool with changing facilities, specialist physiotherapy and treatment rooms, an immersive technology (sensory) room and a soft play area. Further facilities include a library, learning pods, accessible WCs and informal seating areas.

In order to make the building accessible, specialist areas have been carefully planned and located, whilst two passenger lifts have been installed to accommodate all of the relevant mobility equipment.

The school has been designed to achieve a BREEAM rating of ‘Very Good’ and as a result celebrates a wide variety of sustainable features. Increased levels of insulation and air-tightness have minimised thermal transmission, whilst natural daylight and ventilation have been maximised in order to reduce energy costs. Existing school equipment has also been recycled where possible, which has been complemented by an impressive building management system and centralised metering.

Carlton Digby School

Moreover, the school has incorporated the extensive use of photovoltaic cells and the use of high efficiency equipment and low energy dimmable daylight linked lighting using PIR sensors. A sustainable drainage system will also attenuate the outflow of surface water.

Despite a number of days lost over the winter period due to freezing temperatures and high winds, the project is currently on programme and is due to be handed over in July 2012. In consultation with Willmott Dixon Construction, Nottinghamshire County Council has been able to accelerate certain elements of the build in order to make up for the time lost.

Once the new school becomes operational in September 2012, the existing school will be demolished and external works will commence. Landscaping will include a habitat area, external covered learning zones, sensory gardens and a general play area. In addition, there will be a hard-court sports area and a 3G all-weather sports pitch. This phase of the project is scheduled for completion in December 2012.

Stuart Risk, Project Manager for Nottinghamshire County Council, said:

“The site lies within a heavily residential area, which presented numerous challenges at the planning stage. Although some objections remained, a vast majority were addressed by close consultation with the local residents.

“One of the biggest challenges in this area is traffic congestion as a result of the school’s proximity to two other infant/junior schools. Most of the pupils at Carlton Digby arrive by specialist minibus transport, but the present lack of parking space means that the minibuses have to queue up outside the school to pick up or drop off children. The new scheme enables all of the minibuses to park on site, thus reducing congestion on the main road at peak times.

“A couple of short-term road closures were required in order to facilitate service connections, however these have been undertaken during school holidays and in close consultation with the local residents.”

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