Avanti Grange at Stortford Fields: Construction starts on £32m new secondary school for Bishop's Stortford
Work is beginning on Bishop's Stortford's "state-of-the-art and sustainable" new secondary school – the £32m Avanti Grange.
Construction specialist ISG has won the contract for the 1,200-pupil facility straddling the A120 bypass, which will be the seventh secondary in the town.
It will serve families moving into the 2,600 new homes in all on the Stortford Fields and St Michael's Hurst estates on a 28.2-acre (11.4-hectare) site.
Rhys Jones, former Hockerill Anglo-European College vice and assistant principal, has already been appointed head. He will welcome the first 120 students in September to meet immediate demand. While the building work progresses, they will be taught in converted classrooms on the top floor of neighbouring Avanti Meadows Primary, off Farnham Road, which opened last September.
The secondary is the second of three to be run by Avanti Schools Trust as an "education village". The third – another primary called Avanti Brooks – will be built close to Hoggate's Wood.
ISG is building a two-storey concrete frame structure with a brick façade. The southern zone of the split-site development features the main school campus, which has a "linear form" and incorporates a central, full-height glazed spine to link classroom and communal spaces.
Roof-mounted photovoltaic panels will provide the school with emission-free, solar energy – alongside a range of other measures, including high-specification building materials and triple-glazed windows – to reduce the building's environmental impact.
The school boasts a large sports hall and a floodlit multi-use games area alongside car parking and drop-off areas.
A large 'attenuation swale', or pond structure, will be formed to provide natural drainage and enhance biodiversity at the site.
To access the northern zone of the campus, ISG will build a footbridge made of steel with a 30m (98ft) span across the A120.
The northern site will accommodate five grass sports pitches across three large terraced areas. A carefully planned cut-and-fill exercise to level the undulating terrain means all material will be retained on-site and used to form the terraces for the new pitches.
Cllr Terry Douris, Herts County Council's cabinet member for education, said: "We are delighted construction work has now begun on Avanti Grange, one of the three new schools in this important development area.
"They will join the existing family of schools in Bishop's Stortford to provide a first-class education for young people which will be of great benefit and support to them both today and in the future.
"This state-of-the-art and sustainable school will cater for 180 students from September 2023.
"Our thanks go to all our partners involved in helping us to create well-designed communities with a good balance of homes, schools, services and amenities, through sustainable and responsible growth."
Richard Skone, regional director for ISG, added: "The scale and logistical complexity of the Avanti Grange project really marks this out as a keynote regional scheme that will have a positive legacy for the new communities it serves for many generations.
"The school represents a significant investment in much - educational facilities for this thriving part of Bishop's Stortford."