Dame Allan School plans move to old hospital site

PLANS by one of Newcastle’s oldest schools to take over a Victorian hospital site are set to be given the go-ahead.

PLANS by one of Newcastle’s oldest schools to take over a Victorian hospital site are set to be given the go-ahead.

Planners are advising Newcastle city councillors on June 4 to back the scheme by Dame Allan’s Schools to develop the six-acre former Hunters Moor Hospital site in Spital Tongues.

The hospital – built in 1893 and closed three years ago – would be replaced by a 300-pupil junior school for Dame Allan’s and a 20-pupil nursery, with associated external learning and play areas, grass and sports facilities, staff and visitor parking and drop-off areas.

At present, the junior school is split between sites at Forest Hall and the main Dame Allan’s School in Fenham.

The development would also increase capacity at the schools, which currently have almost 1,000 pupils and free up space for development at Fenham, in areas like art and technology.

A feature of the new building would be a red, egg-shaped pod above the entrance, which will be an external extension of the school library.

Dame Allan’s principal Dr John Hind said: “This will represent our vision of the library being at the heart of the school.”

Environmental considerations have also played a significant part in the design of the new school.

The siting and orientation of the building would take advantage of the topography and micro-climate of the site to incorporate renewable energy technology in the form of ground source heat pumps, wind catchers, solar water heating, and rainwater collection for use in toilets, with the temperature of the building controlled through solar shading and natural ventilation wherever possible.

A computer programme will monitor the temperature and CO² levels, adjusting the temperature and ventilation when necessary in individual rooms.

Rubble from the demolished hospital would be recycled on site to level the ground and architectural features from the old building would be used as part of the landscaping.

Dr Hind said the venture would be the biggest physical development for the school since it moved from College Street in Newcastle to Fenham in 1935.

The Town Moor and Hunters Moor adjoin the site to the west. Dr Hind said: “The large, mature, wooded site is a wonderful learning opportunity in itself.

“The teachers and pupils will be able to explore the grounds, seeing the natural world at first hand and watching the seasons unfold. There is so much space on the site which can be used for learning, for sport and for pure enjoyment.”

Council planners say: “The proposed school has a playful, quirky appearance with slight changes in colour to the rainscreen cladding and a protruding curved oval pod feature adding external definition to the main entrance and internally would form part of the library at first floor level. The proposal would retain the existing mature woodland setting, incorporating bat mitigation measures, whilst also delivering extensive play and sport facilities and break out space for pupils.”

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