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By Nick Evans

Bedford Free School

Planning permission received for Bedford Free School extension

Working with Bedford Borough Council, ECE has received planning permission for a new rooftop extension to the existing Bedford Free School building. The development comprises a multipurpose hall, activity studio, changing rooms, offices and stores within the constraints of the existing building’s roof-scape.

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Bedford Free School is a mixed secondary free school. Founded in 2010, the school opened in September 2012 and at full capacity will have 500 pupils aged 11-16 years old.

Engagement with the local community, undertaken prior to the submission of the planning application, received extremely positive feedback gaining support from neighbouring Bedford College and also from several local ward councillors.

Situated on Cauldwell St. in Bedford, a heavily trafficked A-road, the existing five-storey brick building is a fairly typical example of 1980’s office developments with simple brickwork details and a rigid rhythm of brick piers and window openings.

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The school building is located within the setting of a number of heritage assets including the grade 1 listed St Mary’s Church. The site is also seen from the Bedford Conservation Area and therefore required consultation with Historic England in addition to the preparation of a full heritage statement.Resized 4

The designation of the locality as a “key area of change” in Bedford’s Town Centre Area Action Plan inspired the design direction for the new addition. The result is a contrasting proposal with external materials and carefully considered openings that play on the transparency and weight of the composition making the most of the views from a marvellous vantage point over Bedford.

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