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A.W. Hardy delivers vital space for new facilities at primary academy in Southend

More than two years ago, Barling Magna Primary Academy, part of the Brickfields Multi Academy Trust, was looking to extend its buildings in order to make better provision for the local school community.

The school was looking to provide full form entry, but didn’t have the required space for thirty pupils for each year group.

A planning application was submitted and granted in June 2021 but works stalled due to Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic. A.W. Hardy noticed the planning application and approached the school’s project management company, Real8, to offer our services as main contractors.

In line with the requirements of Essex County Council, we put together a Design and Build tender submission, drawing on the services of Livemore for the architectural input and Springfields Structural Engineering Consultants for the structural requirements.

The combined experience of all parties in the educational sector, along with our collective knowledge of the local area, enabled us to compile a winning Design and Build bid. The successful proposal moved away from a combined raft and timber frame concept to a more traditional brickwork and blockwork structure built on shallow foundations.

The outcome was a single storey extension to the premises, providing an additional classroom, three Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) rooms, a DT/Cookery/Science room and other essential resources for the pupils. The lower facing brickwork mirrored the main school’s exterior, and the upper levels were clad in vertical cedar boarding. A low-pitched roof provided the opportunity for installation of solar panels, which will help to offset some of the costs of the extra power they will need following their extension.

In addition to the new structure, we liaised with utility companies to extend and upgrade mains supplies. An additional drainage provision was also incorporated into the scheme.

The external surfacing around the playground and up to the new building was renewed and upgraded in conjunction with this project.

The development was constructed with the knowledge that Barling Magna and its environs were subject to flood risk from the local rivers, so the associated demands upon design and construction of the buildings were seamlessly integrated into the new building.

As well as this constraint on the project, we worked hard to communicate with senior staff from Barling Magna Primary Academy so that there was no (or limited) impact on the day-to-day operations of the school. This meant that the restricted plot and difficult accessibility issues had to be carefully addressed by us so that everybody remained safe and secure throughout the build period.

The project was completed in December 2022 and proved to be an overall enjoyable experience for our team. We particularly appreciated the chance to work locally and contribute to an important scheme for our community. Some of our employees’ children attend Barling Magna Primary School, so the project was close to home in many ways.