Burnley High School, Burnley

Chapel Street Community Schools Trust
5635 m2
April 2017
JM Architects


The project is a new build Free School for 450 secondary and 200 sixth form pupils.

The building is a 3 storey ‘super block’ with a GIFA of 5635m2.


The key challenge of the site was the presence of shallow worked coal seams.


Key Challenges

  • The original proposals for the scheme were the refurbishment and extension of an existing vacant school building. A desk top study was carried out at the outset and this indicated potential coal seams in the vicinity of the school. In view of this an early targeted site investigation was carried out which confirmed the presence of the shallow worked coal seams.
  • The underlying site conditions meant that refurbishment and extension was not an option and site remediation options were quickly explored. To avoid delay, and to make best use of the period needed to develop a new building design, the PCSA was extended to include the demolition of the existing building.
  • An options appraisal was prepared exploring EFA ‘finger block’ and ‘superblock’ base line designs tailored to suit the site. This allowed the preferred superblock option to be chosen by the school. Ratification of the preference was further streamlined by a site visit to a similar completed project.
  • Economies have been adopted within the design by a balanced cut and fill together with the re-use of crushed demolition materials and retention of existing entrances, road and car parking.
  • Pre consultation with the planning authority, coal board, highways and local residents meant that planning approval was granted under delegated powers and works were able to commence in line with the revised development programme in October 2015.

The use of the framework has meant that the challenges of the site have been able to be overcome by the flexible collaborative approach adopted by the EFA, school, technical representatives and contractor.

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