Construction of new forest school begins

Category: Construction

Construction works have begun for a new forest school at its South East Coalville development in Leicestershire, delivered for Harworth Group plc, a leading regenerator of land and property for sustainable development and investment, with support from North West Leicestershire District Council and Leicestershire County Council.

Designed by award-winning firm Lungfish Architects, with construction works by Stepnell, the two-form entry school is scheduled to open in 2024, providing 420 places. The new school demonstrates Harworth’s commitment, as part of the Harworth Way, to working with local authorities and other partners to create sustainable communities, with this facility set to benefit the more than 1,000 residents soon to be living on site and those living in the wider area too.

“It’s exciting seeing work starting on the build and we look forward to seeing it taking shape. This school will be a welcome addition to this community, providing much-needed school places and a lovely setting for learning in an innovative way.” Councillor Deborah Taylor, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for children and families

The school will be built to a bespoke design based on forest school principles. Originating in Scandinavia, the forest school approach promotes education through play and activity while nurturing creativity through self-activity and investigation. To facilitate this, the school design consists of six single storey buildings, designed as a series of pavilions, which include teaching space as well as the school’s hall, kitchen, administration facilities and early years accommodation, all linked by way of a cloister. The teaching pavilions are organised around groups of four classrooms, offering much sought-after flexible teaching opportunities through a range of teaching spaces, such as group rooms and shared learning spaces.

“This new forest school demonstrates the Harworth Way in action, working with local partners to deliver a valuable asset to the local community, creating a sense of place and further enhancing the attractiveness of South East Coalville and the wider area as a place to live. With sustainability at the heart of its design, it will provide a modern and inspiring learning environment that is befitting of its National Forest location. I am grateful to all our partners for facilitating this development, and especially to North West Leicestershire District Council and Leicestershire County Council for their continued support.” David Cockroft, Regional Director – Midlands, Harworth

The classroom spaces have been designed to ensure they are dynamic, naturally lit and naturally ventilated. The school will generate approximately 10% of its own electrical requirements through a roof-mounted solar PV panel system and will use air-source heat pumps to meet its heating requirements. The buildings are intended to complement the largely residential nature of the site, with a contemporary and unique feel that also reflects the National Forest setting.

“This part of North West Leicestershire continues to see a lot of growth and development and I am delighted to see the start of work to bring a new forest school to benefit families and residents in the area. Ensuring infrastructure like roads and schools is delivered for any new settlement is vital to securing the future of our towns and village, so I look forward to seeing the next generation walk through the school doors in September 2024.” Keith Merrie, North West Leicestershire District Council Portfolio Holder for Infrastructure

A groundbreaking ceremony took place on Tuesday 10 October, attended by members of the Harworth team, including Andrew Blackshaw, Chief Operating Officer, and David Cockroft, Regional Director for the Midlands, alongside Councillor Deborah Taylor, Deputy Leader of Leicestershire County Council and cabinet member for children and young people, Councillor Keith Merrie of North West Leicestershire District Council. The leaders also opened a new 21-acre park comprising a riverside corridor with amenity space and several biodiversity enhancement features.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Harworth, and to mark this milestone moment for South East Coalville and its new community, As the first purpose-built forest school for Leicestershire County Council, we are pioneering a model for forest school design that has the potential to shape a new generation of schools. These types of learning environments benefit our children’s wellbeing because of the nature of their design – or rather, because their design is focused on nature. The benefits of balancing indoor and outdoor learning, and the school design that supports it, are achieved by careful consideration of the long-term outcomes and the happiness of pupils and their teachers.” Simon Reid, Managing Director, Lungfish Architects

South East Coalville is Harworth’s largest residential development in its Midlands region. The 250-acre site is situated just two miles from Junction 22 of the M1, and has an outline planning consent for the creation of a sustainable new community of more than 2,000 homes. The development comprises two distinct areas: Hugglescote Grange to the north and Swinfen Vale to the south, both named after surrounding villages. Immediately to the south of the site, is Harworth’s Bardon Hill development, providing 332,000 sq. ft modern Grade A employment space.

To date, Harworth has sold land parcels for the delivery of 793 homes, to housebuilders Redrow, Bellway, Morris Homes and Cadeby Homes and delivered new green space including the planting of over 800 trees. The second phase of the scheme will see the development of new homes, as well as a local centre close to the entrance to the site, where the school will be located, opposite a new Aldi supermarket. More community amenities are planned to be delivered at the site in the coming years.

“Coalville Forest School is an exciting new development that we are delighted to be part of. The sustainable and creative design of the school is exceptional, and aligns well with our comprehensive construction offering at Stepnell. As a complete construction partner, we are proud of our skill to drive forward energy efficiency of buildings and create quality developments to be proud of – this project will be no exception. We are also proud of our strong regional reputation in the East Midlands, and look forward to delivering not only a fantastic project for the people of Coalville, but also leaving a lasting legacy of social value here too.” Tom Sewell, Regional Director, Stepnell

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