Construction is now making good progress at Darras Hall Primary School, the final school of six which are being redeveloped by architectural practice, Howarth Litchfield, under a £50m reorganisation of schools in the Ponteland area by Northumberland County Council.

Following an appointment by Faithful and Gould, the council’s project managers, Howarth Litchfield was awarded the contract to provide both architectural and interior design services on a total of five first school projects at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Whalton, Belsay and Stamfordham and both a first and middle school in Ponteland.

The work required has been varied and included extending, remodelling and refurbishing St Andrews at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Whalton First School, Belsay First School, Stamfordham Village First School, Ponteland First School and Richard Coates Middle School.  Work on these schools began at the start of 2017 and has now concluded.

The investment by Northumberland County Council has come about to support the transition from a three-tier to a two-tier system in Northumberland, enabling the schools to accommodate Year 5 and Year 6 pupils in the existing first schools and nursery and Year 3 children in Richard Coates.

At Darras Hall Primary School, which is a new build project, phase one will be complete in readiness for the new school year in September 2018.  The second phase will involve the demolition of half of the existing school so that the creation of playing fields and multi-use games areas can then commence.  The remaining half of the school will then be planned for demolition in 2020.

Speaking about these latest education sector contracts, Howarth Litchfield’s director leading the projects, Elisa Berry, said:

“We are delighted to be working with both Faithful and Gould and Northumberland County Council on such an extensive programme of work to improve important education facilities across Northumberland.

“As a result of our extensive experience in the education sector, we have been able to create innovative solutions which will greatly improve the schools, making them fit for purpose so that they function more efficiently as they cater for an increase in pupil numbers, while at the same time providing the local authority with value for money.”

Under Howarth Litchfield’s designs, two of the schools, Stamfordham and St Andrews, feature living walls which replaced some of the existing habitat. Additionally, the classroom environments and building layouts which are both so important to the learning experience, have been greatly enhanced to improve student flow and aid safeguarding.

Michael Connelly, project manager for Faithful and Gould, said: “Howarth Litchfield is very experienced in the education sector and this has stood us in good stead, given that we have been working on seven projects simultaneously.  The team has listened carefully, been positively proactive and shown excellent organisational skills in helping us to deliver these schemes for Northumberland County Council.

Councillor Wayne Daley, Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Children’s Services at Northumberland County Council said:

“Providing an excellent learning environment and helping to deliver the best possible education for children across Northumberland is a priority for us. The development at Darras Hall Primary will allow us to provide a fresh and modern learning space for pupils to thrive in”.

Galliford Try is the principal contractor on Darras Hall Primary School.