Ebbsfleet Green Primary School: Laying educational foundations for a new community
Described as “where London meets the Garden of England”, Ebbsfleet Garden City is a major new development alongside the Thames estuary in North Kent.
Already benefiting from an international station that delivers commuters into London in just 17 minutes, the area may expand by up to 15,000 new homes by 2035 as part of a vision to create a 21st Century Garden City.
Schools are an important part of the infrastructure being developed to support the growing community. They include Ebbsfleet Green Primary School, a new one-form entry school situated in the centre of the Redrow housing development, which will accommodate 420 pupils as well as 26 pre-school children in the adjoining nursery.
The site, which also incorporates a special educational needs (SEN) centre, places the environment at the heart of its ethos. As well as being built with sustainability in mind, the classrooms are positioned around a large central courtyard and children can immerse themselves in landscaped grounds featuring a wildlife pond and wild area, while also growing fresh produce in the vegetable garden.
Plans for the school, submitted by site owner Kent County Council (KCC), were approved by Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s planning committee in July 2020, with the school’s opening scheduled for the beginning of the academic year in 2021.
Having been selected by lead contractor Kier for a number of previous KCC projects, Harwood was entrusted to provide Building Control services and landscaping for this unique modular development.
The building design is based on a total of 98 units, making it the largest modular build that Kier London and South East has managed for KCC. The strategy is rooted in efficiency, with components constructed off-site before being transported to Ebbsfleet Green and then lifted into position using a 300-tonne mobile crane.
This Modern Method of Construction (MMC) was critical given the strict demands of the compressed building schedule. Indeed, Kier estimates that taking a modular approach to construction saves between eight and ten weeks in comparison to a traditional programme.
While Building Regulations are applied to modular construction methods in precisely the same way, for Harwood, there is a slight shift in focus because modules are ordered to arrive on site on a specific day. This places greater pressure on the need for foundations to be fully prepared and signed off in time. Any request for last-minute checks, for example, needed a rapid response so that the installation could proceed as planned.
Timing is a crucial issue for any school project more generally, given the deadline of the new year in September. Any delays to this timeframe would not only lead to costly penalties, they would also impact on the continuity of the children’s education.
With extensive experience of working on such projects, Harwood understands where potential ‘pinch points’ can arise when timeframes are tight. In these situations, working proactively with a contractor can make the difference between the client taking possession of the building on time or not.
Certification is a case in point, and with this project, Harwood’s expert team took proactive measures to avoid any unexpected difficulties arising as the build neared completion. In tandem with Kier, Harwood convened a meeting of key representatives from sub-contractors to help guide the certification process and ensure documentation was completed accurately and on time.
Good stakeholder relationships and open communication are priorities for Harwood on any project. At Ebbsfleet Green Primary, our work crossed over with an independent consultant responsible for developing the fire safety strategy for the site. Working together, we ensured the scheme was compliant with Building Regulations and approved by the local fire authority, Kent Fire and Rescue Service.
Harwood’s Approved Inspectors were also closely engaged with the various contractors and trades on site, which helped facilitate all final checks necessary to ensure the final commissioning certificate was handed over to KCC by the project deadline. Ebbsfleet Green Primary School was then able to open its doors to pupils and staff in September 2021.
Paul Robinson, Principal Building Control Surveyor at Harwood, reflects: “The intense project schedule and the difficulties caused by the pandemic have not prevented this project from being delivered on time, which is testament to Kier and everyone else involved. It is great to know that this environmentally friendly school is now free to put down its roots as an important part of this growing Garden City.”
For more information about Harwood and how our building control inspection services can add value to your projects, get in touch with our team today on +44 (0)1227 931 777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are looking to mitigate risks in terms of delays or unexpected costs, the experience of Harwood Approved Inspectors ensures buildings are safe for their users by identifying non-compliant features and working with design teams and contractors so they can create real-world solutions to construction challenges. With its Head Office in Kent, Harwood provides Approved Inspector building control services for commercial construction projects across England and Wales. Our highly professional yet approachable approach and pragmatic attitude ensures the details that matter are taken care of.
Photography: Carlos Dominguez Photography
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