Planning permission has been granted on Bedford Borough Council’s new £22.5 million Bedford Academy following work by preferred bidder Willmott Dixon, Bond Bryan Architects and the Academy to develop an inspiring and practical design for the new building.

Designed with a central communal hub and learning villages forming four individual spokes, the 12,634 m² co-educational Academy will accommodate 1,440 students and feature the twin specialisms of Science and Technology.

One architectural highlight is a triple height glazed atrium at the core of the community hub that will flood the Academy with natural light and deliver the ‘wow factor’ the Academy requested in its brief. The lecture theatre and Sixth Form pod adds to the visually stimulating learning spaces.

Principal Claire Smith says: “The teaching staff and pupils played a vital role in the design process, such as ensuring prominence is given to our specialisms by housing them in the third storey penthouse above the other teaching zones in the hub.”

Bond Bryan Architects director Jeff Stibbons says: “Placing the Academy’s Science and Technology facilities above the central hub will literally act as a beacon for the Academy externally and internally. As it occupies the upper level of the triple height atrium it will be highly visible around the entire Academy. The hub is where all students and staff will meet in various communal places, such as dining, learning resource areas and open access ICT spaces. This will be a stunning contemporary new Academy and will inspire students with its striking design and bright learning spaces.”

Willmott Dixon Managing Director Chris Tredget says: “Our team has been working hard alongside Bond Bryan to develop the design for the planning application, which we are pleased has been approved. We are very enthusiastic about the opportunities the building facilities will provide for staff, students and our wider community.”

Chief Executive of the Bedford Charity, David Russell, commented: “Both the Harpur Trust and Bedford College, as the Academy’s Sponsors, are delighted that planning permission has now been granted. The only remaining hurdle is to obtain the Partnerships for Schools approval of the final contract. Once we have that, the build program can commence and pupils, staff and the local community will see how our plans for the Academy and the new building design will provide a truly inspirational and state of the art school in Bedford. It will be a great place for pupils to learn and staff to teach and it will be a wonderful resource the whole community can be proud of.”

Construction on the Mile Road site will commence soon with the building ready for occupation in September 2012.

Other appointed consultants include:
• M&E Services / Acoustic / Fire: Fulcrum / Mott Mac Donald
• Landscape Architect: Form
• Educationalist / ICT: WSP Edunova
• Structural Engineer: Dewhurst Macfarlane