The new Chadwick Teaching Block for long-standing client Tonbridge School comprises a modern 2-storey timber frame building housing state-of-the-art classrooms, associated staff rooms, library, toilet facilities and feature walls, staircase and ceilings. In parallel, Dry Hill House is a 2-storey timber framed in-fill classroom block connecting the existing Dry Hill and Ravenswood buildings and adjacent to the Chadwick building. These contracts followed on from over 14 previous projects which Baxall have successfully delivered for the school.
The construction of Chadwick and Dry Hill were traditional builds both within a particularly challenging location of the school grounds. Set adjacent to the operational E M Forster Theatre building (which Baxall previously delivered), the challenges were mirrored as the plot sat in a completely land-locked position within this busy occupied school.
With no access from the external main road and with occupied buildings either side of both plots, the team had to utilise a narrow access lane behind the Theatre reserved for school deliveries. The restricted width of the lane meant that only smaller vehicles could access and so a strategy of double handling was implemented with a self-erecting cane used to transfer in materials such as the timber panels. This involved over-sailing the neighbouring residential properties, necessitating a rights agreement.
The logistical challenges were magnified further as the lane sat some 3 metres below the working site level and was subject to a tree preservation order. A solution was found through the construction of a scaffold platform to enable transfer and a ‘just-in-time’ system for deliveries (giving consideration to the significant lack of space on site for storage).
In addition to the full occupation of the school and external neighbouring residents, the adjacent Linden House and Ravenswood buildings sat within very close proximity to the sites, both providing accommodation for school staff. Early stage and ongoing liaison was effectively essential with all stakeholders to ensure that safety was maximised and disruption minimised to all parties at all times. This included daily liaison with the Bursar to ensure that the works were scheduled not to disrupt school operations including key periods such as exams.
Despite the challenges, the professional management of both programme and resources ensured the projects were delivered to time and budget. Previously an unused plot of garden space, the new buildings have fully opened up the rear land area enabling integration with the complete school site.
Colin Toms & Partners