School extensions and alterations advice

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With the growth in population and the expected subsequent pressure on school places in the coming years, schools and local authorities alike have to consider how they can meet these needs. This will often involve extending or altering existing sites in order to accommodate more pupils.

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For those schools looking at this approach, we have put together some essential advice to ensure that the work goes as smoothly as possible.

Planning permission

Gaining the necessary planning permission for bespoke education buildings can add considerable time to the length of the project, and this is often one of the stumbling blocks for construction work. By 2025, it is forecast that we will require an additional 750,000 school places in England, so it’s important for educational providers to start working toward achieving this now.

It is impossible to avoid the planning process completely, but there are some methods to reduce delays.

The use of Permitted Development rights means that an extension of up to 100sqm or 25 per cent of the original school floor plan, whichever is less, is allowed without applying for planning permission. It’s a good idea to check with the local authority before going ahead with any work because there are some restrictions to this, and the 25 per cent might have already been applied to previous extensions.

The use of new buildings

When you’re planning new buildings for a school site, it’s beneficial to look at how they’re going to be used so that you can ensure they meet your precise requirements. For example, bespoke education buildings, can be designed to suit specific needs. For example, the creation of ICT suites, science labs, art and design studios, music rooms and libraries will all require specific features – for example, the right type of lighting, bespoke layouts, acoustic characteristics or specific flooring for example Wood Flooring which could be sourced from businesses like irwintiles.

Length of the project

Construction work often comes with an estimated timeframe, but there are several factors that can lengthen the process. The inclement British weather, for example, can cause delays on site, so you need to ensure that you have a contingency plan in place. Modular buildings could be the answer, either as temporary accommodation whilst the new site is constructed or as a permanent building to speed up the project.

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