Cranbrook Education Campus

  • Location

    East Devon

  • Client

    Persimmon Homes

    Taylor Wimpey

    Devon County Council

    Hallam Land

  • Value


  • Completion


  • Size


Bringing children together through affordable school design

Over the last ten years, we have worked with Persimmon Homes and a number of local authorities to deliver affordable primary schools associated with the house builder’s major residential development schemes. We have now applied that expertise to an all through school at Cranbrook, near Exeter. It provides places for 420 primary students and 1000 secondary students, with a possible post 16 accommodation or a future UTC as part of the site masterplan.

In order to bring the school forward in the development programme for the area, the project was HCA funded. We achieved a cost effective solution on this steeply sloping green field site. A number of factors influenced the location of the building and its shape: site topography, connectivity, visual prominence, access arrangements and the school planning concept. The overall landscape strategy integrates the school into its surroundings with an appropriate treatment to boundaries and interfaces. We took into consideration the site wide constraints of the development as defined by the strategic Landscape, Biodiversity and Drainage Strategy (LBDS). The school site layout has been designed to maximise usable space for play, learning and sport while retaining many of the significant existing landscape elements and features in accordance with the LBDS.

The building is designed to be constructed in two phases, with separate access routes for the primary and secondary students. The plan is based on learning space arranged along a central street, with dining used to animate the base of a wide, tall atrium. Community spaces (with general teaching above) and is ideally located as a connecting element between the primary school, the secondary science and technology wing and the sports accommodation. Some accommodation is shared between the primary and secondary ages to support the all age ethos.

The design is highly sustainable, with a natural ventilation strategy leading to lower running costs for the school. The school design includes a high central section and pitched roof, which assists the natural ventilation strategy and brings daylight into the heart of the school.

I have worked with the company and their associated consultants for a number of years. More recently and initially with regard to the first new primary school in Cranbrook and since last November on the plan and initial design of the main education campus, that has early years / primary phase and secondary phase provision.

They have worked openly and transparently with me as the end user / local authority client representative. Their work is focussed and methodical, drawing on other consultants at the appropriate time and responding to all my requests for further information, clarification as they have arisen. Accurately cross checking and co-ordinating design across the disciplines.

They have a good understanding of the requirements of both primary and secondary phase education organisations and a wealth of experience to draw upon. Good listening and interruption skills and a range of staff that can be deployed for specific tasks as required. They work to tight programmes and deliver to demanding timescales.

In partnership, we have learnt a great deal from the Cranbrook experience with the added challenge of trying to build in flexibility in building design and organisation for a future education provider. They have much to offer both in terms of the strategic large scale approach of a feasibility study, through planning and right down to the small details of a project.

Leo Critchlow DCC