Sunday, 17 September 2017

New School Site Tour

I was lucky enough to be included in the site tour of the new school building this week, as I've had my arm twisted to become the minutes secretary of HOWLS, the library supporters' group. (They didn't have to twist very hard. It's easy to stand up for something you believe in.)
Also with us was a group from the Town Council, including the Mayor, Trudi, and Nigel the Town Clerk. We were supposed to be meeting the county councillor who is the portfolio holder for libraries and the Chief Librarian, but at the last minute, the county councillor said she couldn't come, so we just met the Chief Librarian.
The way into the building site is down the path at the bottom of the car park that connects with Forest Road, where there's a turnstile arrangement which is electronically operated. When we got inside, there's a path to the site huts.
Building site offices have changed since I was an archaeologist! These are very comfortable and clean, and there are signs up for health and safety issues - as well as a couple of big signs saying "No Foul Language", since they're building right next to a working school, just over the fence. We went into a meeting room, where we were issued with hard hats and hi-vis jackets before we went into the new school building. We had already been told to wear sturdy shoes - alas, my steel toe cap boots I was issued for the Norwich Castle Mall dig wore out long ago, but I was wearing sensible boots.
The tall yellow part of the building that is closest to the car park is the new school hall, and the "community" rooms are attached to it on the side nearest the car park. The hall has the kitchen at one end, for school meals. We went through to stand in the room that the County Council want to move the Library into.
The chap from Willmott Dixon, the building contractors, was very helpful, and had plans of that part of the building printed off for us.
On the side nearest the car park are five tall windows, with narrow lengths of wall between. This is where the five computer terminals are planned to go. In the corner nearest to the front door will be the librarian's counter, and on the other side of the door there will be a small office tucked into the corner. At the back of the room, on the same side as the office and against the wall with the hall will be a "Tea Point" with a sink, and behind that, two toilets, which will be accessible for disabled users. The only wall space suitable for fixed shelving will be the wall with the hall, between the office and the door to the hall (which will be normally locked, and openable with an electronic fob). The wall is double thickness for sound proofing, so anyone in the library room will not be distracted by the sounds of children doing PE or having lunch.
There is no separate area for the children's library - it's all one rectangular room.
At the back of the library room, and narrower because of the Tea Point and toilets - and the toilet for the Kitchen which also slots in at the back of the room, is the community space. This will be divided from the library by a folding partition, but when not in use for community purposes, and when the library is open, it is supposed that people will be able to sit there to read the papers or whatever else they need to do.
We paced this part of the building out - it is 10 paces long and 6 or 7 across - there were some building materials in the way, so we couldn't do a complete straight line. It has its own separate entrance, and separate entrance to the Tea Point and toilets.
The chap from Willmott Dixon would have shown us the classroom block, too, but at the moment they are laying the underfloor heating, so it would have been a bit difficult. When we were standing outside, he showed us how each classroom will have a separate front door, leading to coat pegs and toilet in an anteroom and then into the main classroom. The classrooms are four in a row on each side of a wide corridor down the middle of the building.
He said that the building work had been complicated on this particular site because they first had to demolish part of the old school to make room for the new hall, and provide a new portacabin to replace the classroom they knocked down. So normally they would start with the tallest and most complex part of the build - the hall, but this time they started with the classroom block and joined the two parts together later. He said it's actually worked out quite well, as they come to the installation of the electrics and water and so on.
We were standing in the area which will become what I think he called a "mugger" - a Multi Use something or other - I think he meant a playground with a hard surface. There will be another hard surfaced play area round the other side of the classroom block, and the rest will be grassed over.
Someone asked about the Swimming Pool building, and he said that the building contractors had been asked if they could do anything to renovate the building, so they would be having a meeting with the Pool committee to see what was feasible. He said they wanted to help, but expectations would have to be realistic - there was only a limited amount of help they could give.
When it looks less like a building site and more like a building, with the plaster board up on the walls, they are planning to have an Open Day. This will be in December. He said they are well on schedule for finishing the building early next year, probably February.

After the site meeting, I went to the Library to compare the size of the present building with what I had just seen while it is fresh in my mind. It really is going to be a quart squeezed into a pint pot. It may be a very nice pint pot, but it is still inadequate to the needs of the population of Hay and the surrounding area.

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