Feature School Challenges

GML Construction’s project to extend Frittenden Primary School in Kent presented an unusual challenge as the company had to accommodate some winged residents

On paper, it was a tough challenge to begin with: build a new extension to a primary school within the tight boundaries inside a conservation area that complements the existing building.

On top of that, contractor GML Construction, part of the GML Group, had to relocate and monitor a bat habitat throughout the 28-week build.

The company successfully completed the £890,000 project at Frittenden Primary School for kent County Council and handed the scheme over in the summer.

GML used a bespoke timber and steel-framed design to meet the scheme’s budgetary requirements, as well as the criteria for the conservation area. The timber frame extension also fits with the look of the existing masonry brick and block school building.

The project has created additional classrooms, a new IT facility, a kitchen, toilets and a school hall for assemblies and PE classes. The school had previously had to rely on its Victorian head teacher’s house and World War Two-era air raid shelters to provide extra teaching space.

There is an impressive atrium glass roof, a new lift in a glass shaft, integrated under-fl oor heating, special acoustic boarding in the main hall and a computercontrolled environmental system.

All of the work was carried out with minimal disruption the day-to-day running of the school – and the bats can still call Frittenden home.

Elizabeth Bradshaw, the school’s head teacher, said: “Over a short timeframe, GML Construction has transformed the facilities at the school. We now have more space for the children and vastly improved facilities, while causing as minimal disruption to the colony of bats that nest here.

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“The project has been seamlessly added to the existing structure, which itself has been improved with a new timber frame.

“The team at GML Construction were effi cient and great to work with over the duration of the project. We were really impressed with the level of communication and quality of the build throughout.”

GML Construction contracts director Trevor Barnes added: “We are thrilled to have completed the contract at Frittenden Primary School for kent County Council.

“We worked hard to design a project that not only met the criteria, but which also complemented the existing building infrastructure and its aesthetics.

“One major challenge we faced was to ensure the build caused minimal disruption to the running of the existing school, which was adjacent to the construction activity. We’re experienced at working around different on-site challenges and we’re delighted to have succeeded in this instance.”

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