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A ‘MASSIVE step forward’ is how the MP for Eddisbury described The Winsford E-ACT Academy’s new school building.

Stephen O’Brien was among dignitaries and members of the public invited to tour the £19.6 million facility on Friday, November 9.

Children’s’ learning needs have informed the design from the ground up, with Kier Construction due to complete the build two months before new pupils arrive next September.

The structure’s high-tech, modern facilities have already started to reverse the historical trend of Winsford losing secondary pupils to neighbouring towns. 2013’s projected group of Year Sevens is 50 per cent up on last year’s intake.

Andrew Duncalf, E-ACT’s director of finance; said: “Winsford is a town where a big percentage of children who live here travel elsewhere for their secondary education. But the feel good factor of coming to a school with brand new facilities is proving very attractive.”

The new building will increase EACT’s intake from 1,045 to 1,700, taking into account an increased demand, Winsford’s growing population, and incoming laws raising school leaving age to 18 by 2015.

The school’s main concourse – known as ‘The Street’ – is a spacious corridor dividing a three-story section of airy modern classrooms from distinct ground-floor zones, where high-ceilings and ample creative space accommodate design technology, art and drama subjects.

Each of the classrooms is set back from a balcony overlooking The Street, offering students areas to socialise and study.

Also featured are a new library, ample bike sheds and lockers, and a large assembly hall able to seat 425 people, enabling larger scale school productions.

Coupled with music rooms and a redesigned school field of sports pitches and multi use games areas, Winsford’s new high school is due to encourage increased extra-curricular use.

Vicky Atkinson, deputy director of finance, said: “It’s long overdue. The people of Winsford have needed a new school building for very many years, and we’re very excited to be able to offer this new learning experience.”

MP Stephen O’Brien said: “I was really impressed to see the progress which has been made in the new Winsford E-Act Academy building. The concern shown by the contractors to minimise the impact and disruption to the local neighbourhood and the fact that it was designed with the benefit of the children’s’ learning experience to the fore is a massive step forward for Winsford. The Academy has my complete support.”

Originally published in the Winsford Guardian

In association with Benoy architects, Virtual Planit produced visually verified photomontages and CGIs of ASKs new proposals for First Street South. Consisting of a 20 storey residential tower, hotel, supermarket and retail stores this scheme will be one of the prime gateways into Manchester.

ASK’s proposals represent an opportunity to deliver transformational change to a critical regeneration area in Manchester City Centre. The development will offer many benefits including:

■ Significant investment in the area transforming the image of the site and its surroundings and will facilitate the expansion of the City Centre environment further into the First Street area. In addition and alongside the proposals for First Street North, the proposals will kick start the next stage of development at First Street which is to become the heart and focus of a distinctive new mixed use office led neighbourhood fundamental to the economy of the Regional Centre and wider City Region

■ Creation of a new food store, to serve an identified need for those people working, living and studying in the area and which will attract additional uses and occupiers which would otherwise not be drawn to the area

■ Design of the highest quality – the development will be truly mixed use and therefore sustainable in this City Centre location

■ Creation of a new hotel and student accommodation, which will encourage visitors and increase activity in the area

■ Creation of new public spaces which will be programmed with events and activities

■ Increased permeability throughout the neighbourhood, enhancing the gateway status of the site and strengthening connectivity with adjoining areas of economic activity, encouraging further investment in these areas.

First Street South, Manchester

Virtual Planit have recently completed a series of images for the planning application relating to Chester Student Village.

Chester Student Village

The site for the proposed new Chester Student Village is located on the edge of Blacon, only 15-minute walk or 5-minute cycle ride from Chester University’s main campus via a proposed enhanced pedestrian link along the Shropshire Union Canal and a new cycle path along Parkgate Road.

Chester Student Village

The proposed Student Village can accommodate up to 2500 students in a fully managed environment.

Chester Student Village

The proposed new Sports Centre and playing pitches will be open to the Community and include around the rural edge of the site, an exciting new Trim Trail for local people to use, which may include purpose built fitness zones ideal for a multitude of different excise activities. The plans also include new footpaths to link the proposal to the proposed Countess Country Park which would be ideal for dog walking.

Chester Student Village

Substantial new tree planting, landscaping and ponds will be created for both recreational and ecological use.

The architects are Alan Lamb and Andrew Titterton at AEW Manchester.


Building work on Aston University’s new £215 million student residences project is all but complete and filling up with students. The visuals that we created are still up on site, and provide an interesting context to the finished backdrop.


Here are a few more photos of the complete development. All rights reserved and acknowledged: © Elliot Brown


And here’s a reminder of one of the planning visuals, not shown in the hoardings.


Read the original story here

Bishop of Rochester Academy was formed in 2010 as part of the government’s Academies programme. The Academy currently operates from the sites and existing buildings of two mixed predecessor schools, Medway Community College (MCC) and Chatham South School. At the moment, years 10 and 11 are based on the MCC site (a cohort of about 500 students) with the other years based on the Chatham South site. The project will bring together the whole co-educational Academy in a single new building on the old MCC site at Magpie Hall Road.

As part of the redevelopment, all of the existing school buildings will be replaced by the new building, except for the existing sports hall, which is to be retained. These were built within the last 10 years and will undergo some light internal refurbishment.

Virtual Planit worked with BAM Construction, Nicholas Hare Architects, DHA, and The Landscape Partnership as well as other technical consultants to help secure full planning consent for the demolition of the existing school buildings at Bishop of Rochester Academy and the erection of a new Academy and associated facilities.

Medway Planning Committee granted planning permission subject to referral to the Secretary of State as a departure from the Development Plan on 3rd August 2011. The decision notice granting planning permission was issued on 30th August 2011.


BAM Construction scooped an £80m contract to design and build three new academy schools for Medway Council last year, and Virtual Planit were awarded the visualisation work for two of them – Brompton and Bishop of Rochester.

Les Wicks, Medway council’s children’s services councillor, said: “BAM’s scheme was chosen for the way it responded to the educational brief as well as the views raised by students during the design competition and their desire to deliver the building.”

Rod Stiles, construction director at BAM, added: “BAM is delighted to be working with Medway to deliver the new academies. We look forward to forging a great partnership that will deliver three outstanding academies for students and the surrounding communities.”

The video and images shown here formed part of the planning process.

Visit the Brompton Academy website

City Academy in Norwich is in the advanced stages of construction as these photos show. The use of CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) is a significant feature of the architecture.

Photos courtesy of James Lumb.

Cross-laminated timber suits the rapid construction of cellular spaces of medium and wide span. It is clean, fast and immensely strong. At City Academy in Norwich, cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels formed from solid spruce are used to construct the whole building – walls, floors, ceilings, stairs, lift shafts and roof. Helped by the thermal efficiency of the timber and performance of the panels, this means that, for the first 20 years of its use, City Academy will remain carbon negative.

By manufacturing pre-assembled modules, off site under factory conditions, this also meant that on-site works are reduced to an absolute minimum.

Here are our original montages that were used at planning.