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vHH wins approval to create new school around former radio station

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Van Heyningen and Haward Architects (vHH) has been given the go-ahead for a new £35 million state secondary school in Rugby

Houlton School is being created from the conversion of the Grade II-listed former Rugby Radio Station building and its water tower, with the addition of three new teaching blocks.

The 11,350m² school, which will open for Year 7 pupils in September 2021, will provide nearly 1,000 places.

It is the second of four schools being delivered as part of the wider development of Houlton, which includes the construction of 6,200 new homes, a nursery, a GP health centre, a convenience store and 500 acres of walkways, cycleways and green space.

The architects liaised with the wider project team, led by JTP, to ensure the school’s buildings and landscape form a key part of the masterplan for Houlton.

James McCosh, partner at vHH, said: ‘We are delighted to have achieved consents for a new state school that unashamedly transforms the energy performance of a major historic building, and combines our knowledge of education and community buildings, our heritage experience and our steady commitment to Passivhaus principles.’

vHH held detailed negotiations with Historic England, The Twentieth Century Society and Rugby Borough Council so as to be able to restore the façades of the listed building, strip back and reverse low-quality additions and preserve the industrial character of the main internal spaces. The design includes a thermal upgrade of the historic building fabric.

The school is a joint venture between Houlton’s master developer Urban&Civic, Aviva Investors, Warwickshire County Council and the Department for Education. It will be run by the Transforming Lives Educational Trust.

Richard Coppell, development director for Urban&Civic, said the planning approval marked a ‘major milestone’ in the development of Houlton School. ‘The school will become an important statement building in the heart of Houlton’s growing community and provides us with a rare and exciting opportunity to turn a piece of Rugby’s rich history into a state-of-the-art facility for our local residents and families across the town,’ he said.

Preparatory works include some demolition, remediation and clearance. Main contract works to convert the existing building and construct the new buildings will begin early next year.

Archive aerial of rugby radio station

Archive aerial of rugby radio station

Project data

Location Houlton, Rugby, Warwickshire
Local authority Rugby Borough Council
Type of project Academy/state secondary school
Client Urban&Civic PLC & Aviva Investors joint venture
Project manager Urban&Civic Projects
Architect van Heyningen and Haward Architects
Landscape architect Planit-IE
Planning consultant David Lock Associates
Structural and civil engineer Price & Myers
Energy consultant Etude
M&E engineer Hoare Lea
Quantity surveyor Rider Levitt Bucknall
CDM adviser RPS
Lighting consultant Hoare Lea/GIA Equation
Fire consultant OFR
Acoustics consultant Ramboll Acoustics
AV consultant Noiseboys
Catering consultant Cooper 8
FF&E consultant Red Apple
Main contractor  Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure
Funding Urban&Civic PLC (enabled by Department for Education loan)
Tender date Ongoing
Start on site date Early 2020
Completion date September 2021
Gross internal floor area 11,337m² (stage 4)
Form of contract and/or procurement 2 stage Design and Build
Annual CO2 emissions 16.9 kgCO2/m²/year [the predicted actual emissions for the whole school (including the listed buildings) calculated by Etude using PHPP and 2018 grid carbon factors]
Cost £35 million


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Such a fantastic project to be involved with. It’s a shame Heritage Collective doesn’t get credited at the end of this article. As the heritage consultants involved on this project they made a very valuable contribution towards achieving this consent.

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