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Damers First School

 A replacement Damers First School and Dorchester Community Church located in Poundbury.

The project and background

An appraisal of all Dorchester first schools by Dorset County Council considered how best to provide 225 additional pupil places needed across the town. As part of this it was decided that Damers First School, if on a new site, would be suitable to increase to 4 forms of entry (FE) capacity expanding by approximately 150 places. The remaining places will be provided at Manor Park CE (VC) First School. 

Damers First School currently operates as a 3FE first school on the Damers Road site in Dorchester next to the main hospital. An option study concluded that the increase in capacity could be achieved by building a new school at similar cost to building on the current site, but with significantly improved education facilities.

The new single-storey Damers First School will move to a site next to The Great Field, Poundbury and will provide:

  • 4 reception class bases
  • 16 key stage 1 and key stage 2 class bases
  • a large hall
  • a smaller hall
  • a multi-use heart space including library facilities
  • a practical room which can be used for teaching
  • toilets, staff room, offices, stores and cloakrooms

In addition there will be a grass playing field, games courts, formal hard play areas, bike stores and parking spaces for staff. The development will also include a lych-gate at the Great Field entrance and a 'Coach House' housing the plant for a sprinkler system, storage and caretaking facilities.

The design includes facilities for the Dorchester Community Church to allow them to relocate to the site and provides a hall, kitchen, coffee lounge, crèche room, meeting rooms, toilets and platform lift. The church and the school will remain separate organisations.

The project started on site in the winter of 2015 and was completed on 6 March 2017, enabling the School to move in during the Easter holidays.  The school was officially opened by HRH Prince of Wales on 27 November 2017.

View the Damers First School project on Facebook provided by BAM Construction Ltd.

Damers-First-School-under-construction-Evoque-video
Damers First School under construction (Evoque Video)

The design

The proposed site for the new Damers First School is within phase three of the development of Poundbury and less than one mile from the existing school. The site is next to the Great Field, just north of Peverell Avenue East which links Queen Mother Square to Bridport Road. The school is positioned to form the street frontage to Liscombe Street with the main entrance just north of the hall.

The single-storey building design has been influenced by both the masterplan strategy developed by the Duchy's master planner, Leon Krier, and the Poundbury Design Code.

The majority of the school accommodation is around a central courtyard. Building materials will mainly be brick walls, aluminium faced windows and doors and a lightweight aluminium roof. These materials will be discussed and agreed with the Duchy and planning authorities. The site will be level to enable accessibility to all parts of the school site.

The community church will be relocating next to the school hall, but will be separate entities and separate spaces.

Sustainable design solutions include the use of passive mechanical and electrical services where possible. The solutions will include the use of natural lighting and natural ventilation. The building will also have high levels of thermal insulation.

External works and landscape

Within the secure boundary of the site will be a playing field, games courts, formal hard play areas, bike stores. A parking area will be provided in the north-west corner of the site.

The design team and main constructor

The project to provide a new Damers First School is being procured and project managed Dorset County Council's Dorset Property.  The design team and main constructor are as follows:

  • Client: The Asset Management Group for Cabinet, represented by the Director for Children's Services
  • Dorchester Community Church:  Dorchester Community Church
  • Project manager: Dorset Property
  • Architect: Dorset Property
  • Cost consultant: Dorset Property
  • Mechanical engineer: Dorset Property
  • Electrical engineer: Dorset Property
  • Landscape architect: Dorset Property
  • Structural engineer: Dorset Property
  • CDM co-ordinator: Dorset Property
  • Clerk of works: Dorset Property
  • Main constructor:  BAM Construction Limited

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