Councillors Approve Plans For Ark Putney Academy

Proposals for the £30m refurbishment and modernisation of buildings

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Ark Putney Academy
Pullman Gardens,
SW15 3DG
020 8788 3421

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The proposals will see a complete refurbishment of the secondary school's Grade II listed main building, and the construction of a brand new replacement sports hall.

The modernised school building will provide pupils with brighter and bigger state-of-the-art classrooms, new lifts, toilets and a better assembly hall.

The new sports hall will enable pupils to enjoy a much wider range of sports than was possible in the existing lower-ceilinged gym block, which was originally built nearly 60 years ago.

The school will also get a new multi-use games area, measuring 55 metres by 36 metres in the south west of the site for football, tennis and netball. In the north west, the playground will be refurbished and there will be new tree planting and horticultural improvements.

In the north east of the site a newly laid playground will be extended and marked out to allow basketball, plus a 50 metre sprint track and facilities for long jump, high jump and table tennis.

There will be cycle parking spaces for 132 bikes and the site will benefit from the planting of an additional 20 trees.

Apart from the gym block, which was too low to accommodate many modern sports, the main school building is badly in need of major refurbishment. The £30m needed to bring it up to modern teaching standards will partly be funded by the construction of housing on a former part of the school site, subject to planning permission.

The plans mean the school will have space for 1,200 pupils and the academy provider ARK Schools is confident that these changes will succeed in attracting more students, building on the outcome of its successful Ofsted inspection earlier this year when the school was judged 'good'.

A report to councillors at Tuesday's committee stated:
"The school site needs essential repairs to meet the current and future learning needs. The existing problems include: dilapidated cladding, decaying windows, poor heating/cooling, unsuitable sports provision, not wheelchair accessible, classrooms below teaching standards and structural problems.

"The existing building has a very high level of carbon emissions. The majority of building services and glazing are at the end of their useful life. The east-west orientation of the building results in summertime overheating, therefore materials and façade design have worked to address this problem and so reduce carbon emissions by improving natural ventilation. The existing heat system is oil fired so converting to gas will reduce carbon emissions considerably."

The response from English Heritage included an acknowledgement that "due to the combination of poor thermal efficiency, falling below Sport England standards and structural problems, no objections are raised to the demolition of the (gym) block.

"The proposal generally has retained the important openness of the site, whilst subtly including the relocated sports facilities. EH are pleased that elements such as the outdoor stage have been retained."

Sport England said:
"The site is not considered to form part of, or constitute a playing field. None of the existing gyms meet the design guidance recommendations. The proposed sports hall activity studio and changing rooms would represent the provision of significant new facilities. The proposed multi-use games area (MUGA) would be built to modern standards and the porous macadam surface would be sufficient for use in all weathers. Furthermore the MUGA would be suitable for a number of sports including tennis, netball and five a side football."

Education spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said:
"This decision paves the way for the council to move forward and invest some £30m in the education of young people in this part of Putney. Pupils who attend the Ark Putney Academy in the years ahead will be able to enjoy a fully modernised and comfortable learning environment and play a full range of team and individual sports.

She continued:
"The school was built more than 50 years ago and has reached the end of its design life. If it was any other building it would have been much simpler and cheaper to demolish it and build a modern new school from scratch. However its protected status as a listed building means this was not an option we could pursue.

"What we have been able to do is come up with a realistic and effective plan to generate the very significant sums of money to pay for the school's refurbishment, retain the listed building and provide local parents with an exciting and viable new choice of secondary school in this part of the borough."

September 13, 2013