Ashford School, part of United Learning (UL), is a co-educational day, nursery and boarding school for ages 0 to 18, on two sites: Great Chart (the Prep School) and East Hill, in Ashford town centre (the Senior School), with around 1000 students on the two sites. We were appointed by UL to look at the East Hill site, including the historic and currently vacant Flour Mill, and provide a feasibility assessment and strategic advice on the options for developing the campus, in phases. The School’s priorities were delivery of improved sixth form facilities, improved boarding accommodation, improved academic accommodation including refurbishment and planned maintenance works and a strategy for the Flour Mill.
The masterplan proposals were developed through a series of discussions with the School and UL, and engagement with Ashford Borough Council (ABC) as the local authority and planning authority, and (to a limited extent) Kent County Council as the highways authority.
The masterplan after considering the constraints of the site (including listed features and conservation areas), and the vision of the school and UL, proposes a strategy for optimising the campus to create an attractive, legible and efficient environment. It identifies opportunities for development by remodelling, extension and / or new buildings within an urban design and landscape framework. The proposals are conceived here as ‘long term’ and ‘medium term’ in terms of implementation. The first phase of the masterplan is development of new sixth form facilities.
The new sixth form centre proposals provide dedicated teaching and break out facilities and conference and meeting allowing the school to engage with the wider community. By siting the new building close to the main entrance, the school have a new marker and an opportunity to improve the visitor arrival experience. The proposals were granted planning approval in 2019.