The Abbey School


The Abbey School, Reading


Edgars has been working with The Abbey Junior School for Girls within the administrative area of Reading Borough Council, to make improvements to the safety and functionality of the school. A planning application was submitted for the erection of a single and two-storey extension to the front and rear of an existing building. The school is located within a largely residential area characterised by Victorian and Edwardian properties within a designated conservation area.

The challenge

There were several significant issues that required sensitive consideration as part of the planning process, including both heritage and arboricultural matters. The site is located within the Christchurch Conservation Area and therefore needed to be sensitive in terms of its layout and design. There were also issues related to tree loss, which were subject to blanket tree preservation orders owing to their location within the conservation area.

The solution

Considering the identified site constraints, it was necessary to put forward a robust heritage and landscape-led development scheme, with a strong emphasis on conveying the wider public and school benefits (to balance any harm).

On this basis, we adopted a ‘conservation-led’ approach to the development scheme and engaged early with planning and conservation officers. Officers were also invited to the site to undertake detailed site visits.

Undertaking early engagement and collaboration with officers enabled a number of positive improvements to be made to the development proposals and wider site, this included amendments to the design and materials, which served to improve the overall character and appearance of the conservation area. The proposals also preserved the school and the surrounding area.

To overcome the loss of trees, including a Cooper Beech, a suitable mitigation scheme was submitted including replacement trees, together with a hard and soft landscaping scheme. The development proposals also brought about transport improvements, both in terms of access and car parking, which benefited highway safety, visibility and overall connectivity.

The result

Planning approval was granted on 14th September 2018, on the basis that the scheme would outweigh any heritage and landscape impact.

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