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Chessington’s New World of Adventures

A Surrey school has undergone an extraordinary transformation in a Pathfinder Scheme rebuild, as James Pringle reports


e never closed” was the proud wartime slogan of London’s Windmill Theatre, and Chessington Community College can say the same after its

transformation from neglected backwater into a showpiece new building. School life continued while Tuffin Ferraby Taylor (TFT) and

Willmott Dixon implemented IID Architects’ designs, and the results have been hailed a success by teachers, pupils and parents. In the early stages of the government’s Building Schools for the

Future programme, local authorities that were a long way down the list of hopefuls were given the chance to bid for one school to be rebuilt. This Single-School Pathfinder Scheme enabled Surrey’s Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames to secure a much-needed update for Chessington Community College. With capacity for 800 pupils, the school comprised four main

buildings from around the late 1950s, a good-quality sports hall from the mid 1990s, and an assortment of ‘temporary’ buildings long past their best. Corridors were narrow and some of the classrooms quite small. The £23 million rebuild was completed in just over two years,

with property consultants TFT overseeing the project for the Kingston authority. TFT selected the design team, supervised the standard of work on site and ensured completion on schedule and on budget. “The scheme was to redevelop the whole site, but the college

had to continue operating there at the same time,” project manager Paul Raymont, a partner at TFT, tells Civic & Public Building Projects. “We had to provide a temporary ‘village’ for about half of the school to operate in, while the rest of it was taken down and

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