Merton shortlisted for state-of-the-art special educational needs school

Merton Council has been shortlisted for a coveted London Planning Award.

The council nominated its state-of-the-art St Ann’s Special educational Needs Centre of Excellence for the planning award earlier this year and is one of four projects shortlisted from 14 entries in the Best Built Project category. The awards are organised by London First in conjunction with the Mayor of London, the Royal Town Planning Institute and London Councils.

Merton’s award nomination illustrates the building’s top quality design, the environmental properties to the building, how the development maximises the potential of the land available and how the school will deliver benefits to the wider public.

The new school site will see the capacity of the current school increase from 90 to 112 special needs pupils – 56 at each site – and is set to open to pupils in the first half of next year.

The design of the building maximises the space available and comprises a two-story block alongside three single storey blocks. Easy access to and from the second storey is a key part of the design, with wheelchair-accessible routes within and linking the buildings.

The school meets government and Sport England requirements, boasting 3,301m2 floor space, a 82m x 49m football pitch and a 35m x 20m multi-use games area as well as a variety of stimulating and calming spaces.

A 35% annual reduction in CO2 emissions (50 tonnes) will be achieved through the school’s central on-site wood chip biomass boiler – well in excess of the Mayor of London’s recommended 20%. The annual financial saving is estimated to be £2,500.

Wherever possible, the rooms in the building are naturally ventilated, and where mechanical ventilation is necessary, the systems are linked to occupancy sensors.

Other environmental qualities to the building include water conservation through low volume cisterns, waterless urinals and spray time controlled taps. Rain water can be collected from the main roof for flush water in the lavatories. The building incorporates a rainwater harvesting system, saving £800 per year.

Natural England has commended the development which has the potential to increase native flora and biodiversity. Supporting biodiversity, the school features a 1,000m2 sedum and wild flower roof.

Merton Council cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration Councillor Andrew Judge said: “The new site is going to be an incredible asset to the borough and will provide invaluable learning resources to young people with special educational needs from all over South West London.

“The success of this project is the result of an effective partnership between the council, Sport England, the Greater London Authority, Natural England and Transport for London. This new school will be a centre of excellence for education and is also a model of exemplary planning and design.”

Head teacher of St Ann’s Tina Harvey said: “This fantastic new build with its excellent range of facilities will have a huge positive impact on the education of our secondary-aged pupils.”

Chief Executive of London First Baroness Jo Valentine said: “It’s fantastic to see such an incredible standard of nominations for this year’s awards. Planners have a major role to play in ensuring London emerges from the downturn strong and competitive and we must continue to encourage the development of buildings which add to London’s quality of life.”