Keppie Design gain planning permission for Whitehall Park Free School, Islington

Planning permission has been granted for Whitehall Park School, a new EFA (Education Funding Agency) free school in Islington.

The new school will be built within a conservation area on the site of the former Grade A listed Ashmount Primary School which was designed in 1953 by HT Cadbury-Brown, one of the chief architects of the Festival of Britain.

With a contract value of £5.5 million, the project involves the demolition of the existing Ashmount School and the construction of Whitehall Park School, a new two-form entry primary school for pupils aged 4 to 11. The existing school opened in September 2014 in temporary accommodation with two reception classes. It will continue to grow by two classes per year, reaching its full capacity of 420 pupils in 2020 and will be managed by Bellevue Place Education Trust which runs a number of independent preparatory schools throughout London, four of which are currently rated ‘Excellent’.

Leading Keppie’s architectural design of Whitehall Park School is Maryla Betkowska, working alongside Extra Space Solutions, a leading provider of modular and prefabricated buildings.

The primary challenges for Keppie were the restricted size of the existing site, the large number of mature trees and the changes in level. This has resulted in a three storey solution where the external play area has been maximised and includes a rooftop playground. The gross area of the building is approximately 2,376sqm and includes 14 classrooms over 3 storeys with a sports/dining hall and studio, all forming street frontage to Hornsey Lane and Ashmount Road. Classrooms are arranged in 2 wings which sit within a split level site, with the ground floor spaces opening out onto a south facing playground and the first floor main entrance and school offices connecting with Hornsey Lane.

Glass curtain walling wraps round both street elevations, allowing the building to engage with the street and provides a reference to the heritage of the glazed Cadbury-Brown building. Internal wall colours, lighting and activity will animate the immediate area. London brick and engineering brick, along with full height glazed screens, form the cladding to the elevations facing the south facing playground. The colourful rooftop stair cores provide accent and focus particularly at the rooftop playground.

Original artwork from the existing school, a cockerel sculpture by John Willats, will be refurbished and relocated adjacent to the main entrance.

Building work on the new school is expected to be completed in September 2016.