Blackpool gets its first specialist mental-health schools


RIC Wright Construction’s Special Projects division has been commissioned by Blackpool Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to build two new school facilities with contracts worth over £5m. The first is for Pegasus School on Bathhurst Avenue where the team is building a four-classroom extension and ancillary areas as well as refurbishing two adjoining classrooms. The team started on site in March and work is expected to complete in August in time for the start of the new term.

Eric Wright’s Special Project team has

also been awarded the contract to deliver the new 48-pupil Lotus School, which is designed for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs. The Lotus School was granted planning in Dec 2018 and will be built on a vacant plot of land on Langdale Road at Mereside. Work will start on site in June with completion in 2020. The Lotus School will save the authority hundreds of thousands of pounds a year which is currently spent on sending challenging pupils to schools outside the borough. Blackpool does not currently have specialist provision for SEMH pupils, with youngsters

transported instead to 16 independent special schools outside the town. The new school, which will be built over two floors, has been designed by architects Cassidy and Ashton and will be a vibrant educational facility for the local community. There will be classrooms on both floors, along with a science lab, school hall and specialist therapy and sensory rooms.

Northumberland farmhouse and stable block converted to 80-place nursery


RE-MODELLING of a greenfield agricultural site has created nursery provision for 80 children aged six months to five years at

Meadows Nursery in Northumberland. Designed by London-based architecture studio Mailen Design, the single storey building replaces a demolished stable block and connects to the original stone farmhouse. Prior to the appointment of Mailen Design the client had gained outline planning consent for a very small addition to the farmhouse, but a larger scheme was required to accommodate more children with an enhanced connection to the external landscape. The idea of ‘house and home’ led the new build part of the design, resulting in a series of three nursery ‘houses’ each forming a space for the individual age groups. Children progress gradually through the spaces as they grow up.

Breaking up the massing in this way reduces the impact on the greenbelt, and capitalises on the potential for solar gain and natural ventilation. The building is arranged so that the existing topography


helps screen the major elements from view, and there is also new planting. Engagement with the outdoors, at all times and in all weathers, is a key feature of the nursery. The building frames the scenery and provides generous internal spaces opening on to a protected, shared south facing garden. Ecological performance is enhanced by sustainable technologies including solar hot-water heaters, rainwater capture and ground source heating. Double glazing throughout is solar controlled through reflective film and there are mechanical heat-recovery ventilation units. Ben Mailen, managing director of Mailen Design commented: “Our interest in materials and well-crafted buildings and spaces allowed us to really focus on how the building was put together, both inside and out.”

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