Countryside, the UK’s leading mixed-tenure developer, and the Department of Education have marked the start of construction on Ark Soane, a mixed-use development in Acton, west London, comprising a new 1,200-pupil secondary school, Ark Soane Academy, and 116 high-quality homes, with a groundbreaking ceremony.
The ceremony was attended by the project’s key stakeholders, including Countryside, Ark Soane’s Principal, the Department for Education, Sigma Capital Group plc (on behalf of the joint venture between EQT Exeter and Sigma Capital), Network Homes and Jerram Falkus, which is delivering all construction works associated with the school and residential development. Phase 1 of the Ark Soane building is completed, and the school will welcome its first Year 7 cohort next month. With construction now underway, phase 2 of the project is due to open by September 2022.
Designed by Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects, the Ark Soane mixed-use development will see the secondary school occupying the first three floors of the six to 12-storey building, with 113 apartments located above this, in addition to three separate townhouses on the site.
Ark Soane Academy will use the surrounding grounds, which include a multi-use games area, sports hall and playgrounds.
Daniel King, Managing Director, West London & Thames Valley, Countryside, said: “This is a proud moment for all involved with Ark Soane, as we begin construction on the state-of-the-art school and high-quality new homes. Having pioneered the partnership working model to deliver major regeneration schemes across the UK, we’re excited to deliver this project, working with our partners to see Ark Soane Academy fully completed next year.”
Matt Neuberger, Principal at Ark Soane, commented: “Ark Soane is committed to providing an outstanding academic education for all our students to enable them to live happy and fulfilled lives as the drivers of their own destinies. Our mission has been welcomed with excitement by the local community and I am delighted to celebrate the next phase of construction on our school buildings whose facilities will match the ambition we hold for Soane students.”
William Jerram, Joint Managing Director, Jerram Falkus Construction Ltd, added: “We are delighted to be working with Countryside again and LocatED to deliver this exciting scheme. The project has got off to a great start on site, and progress will soon be seen emerging out of the ground to construct this combined educational and residential development. We want to thank our project team and our design team led by Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects (PTE), Price & Myers, Max Fordham, Outerspace and Montague Evans for their commitment over the past year in working to bring this project design to life and on target for delivery.”
Jack Barnet, Acquisitions Director, Sigma, commented: “We’re really excited to be starting on-site at Ark Soane. We’ve seen great interest for our first few Simple Life London schemes with Countryside and we’re very much looking forward to bringing a high-quality rental solution for renters in Acton. We’re excited to be part of the growing local community here.”
David Gooch, Network Homes Executive Director for Development, said: “It’s great to see work starting on this fantastic development where Network Homes will be delivering much needed affordable homes. This will include 12 properties for London Affordable Rent and nine for London Living Rent, a tenure which is part of an excellent scheme helping people to save for a deposit to buy their own home.”
Following a public procurement process, Countryside was selected by LocatED, an Arms-Length Body to the Department for Education, to deliver the multi-million-pound development. Of the new homes, a large proportion is being constructed for the private rental market, with 92 apartments to be built for the JV between Sigma and EQT Exeter, which will be taken to market under Sigma’s ‘Simple Life London’ rental brand. Of the remaining homes in the new development, 21 will be affordable, managed by Network Homes, and three will be for open market sale by Countryside. A sustainable energy centre utilising a Ground Source Heat Pump is also being delivered as part of the development.