School Premises Development Plans: Why are they needed?

School Premises Development Plans: Why are they needed?

One of Thinking Buildings key strengths is our expertise in preparing School Premises Development Plans, or PDP’s for as we call them; the question is why do we do them and what use are they? In short, they provide key information to understand the condition and suitability of school premises, and they provide a vision and master-plan for how a school could be developed and improved. Crucially, it allows short terms decisions to be made that fit within and do not hinder the longer term site development strategy.

Thinking Buildings have a long standing relationship with Diocese Academy Trusts, and we have prepared over 10 school development in recent years for primary school sites. A number of these have turned into built projects such as the £3 million expansion of Fairford Primary school that is currently in construction. In secondary education, we are currently working with the Spencer Academy Trust to deliver PDP’s for 4 academies in the East Midlands. This is a substantial and complex piece of work that will culminate a series of projects to present for Section 106 funding. We also have significant experience in developing master-plans for universities and independent schools.

The image shows the final proposed site plan for Fairford Primary School that was a result of the site analysis and master-planning we developed during the Premises Development Plan process. A typical PDP includes analysis and comparison of an existing school’s accommodation against Building Bulletin 103, which is the Government’s guidance for areas in schools. This provides a clear picture of area shortfalls (often considerable) and surpluses (less common). It informs school leadership teams, Academy Trusts, Governors, Trustees and County Councils with a clear strategic understanding of their schools and premises. Crucially, this informs decision making for spending priorities and for targeting funding bids. Thinking Buildings are often engaged to prepare a PDP when there is demand in the local area for increasing pupil places in schools, often as a result of new housing and Section 106 funds being made available to support school expansion.

Thinking Buildings can tailor the scope of a PDP to suit an individual school’s or need, and the core study can be enhanced to include detailed studies for condition, sustainability and energy use, occupant satisfaction. We particularly enjoy when a school chooses to include a pupil and staff workshop which is a fun, rewarding and often revealing process.

Please do contact us if you wish to discuss how we can help a school plan for the future.