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Ash Manor School’s £4 Million Theatre Extension Begins to Take Shape

Published on: 5 Dec, 2020
Updated on: 7 Dec, 2020

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By David Reading

Building has started on Ash Manor School’s £4 million extension, to be used mainly for performing arts. Morgan Sindall Construction, chosen by the county council, expects to complete the project by the time the 2021 academic year begins.

The block includes a theatre with 100-plus seats, and headteacher Agnes Bailey said this would not only serve the school but be used for community activities such as Brownies, karate and yoga. Local groups will be able to stage shows at affordable prices in a professional space.

Ms Bailey added: “Today marks an incredible milestone for our community. This building is about much more than bricks and mortar. It is about opportunity, creativity and a space where the whole community can aspire to achieve incredible things in a building they so richly deserve.

“Our goal has always been to provide our students with facilities that match the exceptional quality of our teaching, ensuring our students continue to leave us as expressive, creative performers, filled with confidence, resilience and ambition.”

The block will hold two drama rooms, two music rooms, and two science labs. The builders said all rooms would have flexible interior designs, allowing the school to adapt to different activities, group sizes and individual pupil needs.

Space for toilets, changing-rooms, a plant room and a new office will also be installed. Solar panels will provide sustainable energy and reduce carbon emissions.

Outside there will be a permeable paving area for pedestrians, with seven spaces added to the school car park. Trees in the grounds are being retained.

Ash Manor’s intake at entry-level will increase by 30 pupils, helping to alleviate pressure on the school caused by the local housing explosion.

Clifford Kinch, Morgan Sindall’s area director, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has seen the UK’s arts industry take a huge hit and it has been a particular blow for young people, given the valuable skills and education the performing arts can provide.

“This new theatre will be an important asset for the students and the general public. It is a great example of a local authority striving to support a sustainable community with flexible shared-use buildings.”

Part of the cost of the project, £1,072,016, an increase on the original pledge, will come from Section 106 (S106) funding. An S106 is a legal agreement between a developer and the local planning authority to mitigate the impact of new homes on the community and infrastructure.

Cllr Caroline Reeves

Borough Cllr Caroline Reeves, lead for Housing and Development Control, said: “The original figure of £803,000 has been increased to a new S106 contribution of £1,072,016 from the amended development.

“Further contributions towards the improvement of Ash Manor School, totalling an additional £740,513.56, have also been secured. While we have not yet received these contributions, they will be available when the relevant development starts.”

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test One Response to Ash Manor School’s £4 Million Theatre Extension Begins to Take Shape

  1. Ciarán Doran Reply

    December 6, 2020 at 10:08 am

    Music got me through my school days and off to study it at university, so to me this is an excellent piece of news that this school is putting real effort into the arts for the school and the local community.

    True appreciation of what we get from music and drama is generally highly undervalued by the national government but I hope and pray that the young talent nurtured here gets valued in their careers too.

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