First development on Bath and West Showground site gets approval

An application to build a new free school in the new Enterprise Area being created on the Bath and West Showground has been approved.  It will form the first phase of a masterplan for a mixed development of parts of the Showground which is being jointly developed by the Royal Bath and West of England Society and their Regeneration Partner Red Kite Securities (a joint venture of London Wharfedale and Sir Robert McAlpine Enterprises).

Working with contractor Sir Robert McAlpine, architect DKA and mechanical and electrical engineer McCann and Partners, Clarkebond is providing civil, structural, geotechnical infrastructure engineering and transport planning services for the Mendip Free School.   

The site presented Clarkebond’s engineers with a number of challenges as the school and external areas are required to be level but the site slopes by five metres from front to back with a high rock head.  Clarkebond have therefore modelled the site and the underlying limestone rock contours to determine the optimum level for the new school and the volumes of topsoil, subsoil and solid rock to be handled.


The budget is extremely tight as special needs schools require more floor area per pupil than usual and a disproportionate part of the budget is to be dedicated to the internal fit out. A cost effective and quickly buildable solution is therefore needed with maximum flexibility to allow for classroom layout changes in the future.

Clarkebond’s steel framed solution can be quickly sheeted to provide weather protection for following trades. The foundations will be reinforced concrete strips of minimum depth to minimise excavations into rock and control any differential movement. All wet trades will be eliminated both inside and outside the building to save time and avoid the need for specialist labour that is currently difficult to procure.

The Mendip School, will provide 120 places for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder or Speech, Language and Communication Needs. Facilities will include 19 classrooms, sports hall, staffrooms, kitchen, science and technology areas, library, wet rooms and future proofed drainage to allow for the future potential of a swimming pool.

Clarkebond is also providing infrastructure design services for the whole Bath and West Showground site redevelopment including roads, drainage, services and off-site highways improvements.

Contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine
Engineers: Clarkebond
Architects: DKA
Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: McCann and Partners