A new £7.3 million primary school planned for Taunton is set to become Somerset’s first net zero carbon school, and only the third ‘passivhaus’ school in the south west.

The new 420-place primary school, which includes a 60-place nursery, will serve the Orchard Grove housing development in Comeytrowe and is needed to meet the expected demand for school spaces.

Somerset County Council has appointed Futures for Somerset to deliver the project, which has been designed by architect firm Stride Treglown to minimise any environmental impact in line with Somerset County Council’s commitment to make Somerset carbon neutral by 2030.

Stride Treglown’s design has been based on the ‘passivhaus’ concept, an internationally recognised, performance-based energy standard in construction. The school will be fossil fuel free and designed to be carbon neutral in use by using air source heat pumps, alongside excellent air tightness, to keep the building warm.

Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Public Health, said: “I am delighted that we are bringing forward another new school for children in Somerset and excited to see plans for this to be the county’s first carbon neutral school building. This fits squarely with the County Council’s ambitious plans to reduce Somerset’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.

“I’m pleased to see the project progressing to develop a Comeytrowe school fit to meet the demand from expected new housing in the area, and which we aim to open for 2023/24 school admissions.”

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Economic Development & Community Infrastructure, said: “Somerset County Council is determined to lead the way when it comes to tackling the impacts of climate change in Somerset. Considering how to reduce emissions when developing new projects is at the forefront of our decision making and this new school is a good example of the Climate Emergency Strategy in action.”

In November 2020, all five councils in Somerset gave the green light to implement a plan for Somerset to go carbon neutral by 2030.

The Somerset-wide Climate Emergency Strategy considers how Climate Change will impact the County of Somerset and describes what we need to do to cut our emissions and build resilience to the likely risks that may arise.

The full Climate Emergency Strategy and summary strategy can be reviewed at www.somerset.gov.uk/climate-emergency.

Responsible for delivering the new Orchard Grove community is a consortium of leading housebuilders – Taylor Wimpey and Vistry Group, which includes Bovis Homes and Linden Homes. Vistry Group is working on this project as a joint venture with southwest housing association, LiveWest. The vision behind the 2,000-home development is to create a unique new garden community, with residents benefiting from shared amenities – including the new school – and abundant outdoor space.

Sue Scholfield, from Vistry Group and the Orchard Grove consortium, said: “Delivering new developments is about so much more than housing. The new school will provide a vital amenity at Orchard Grove. In line with our low-carbon ambitions the intention is for the school to be built to ‘passivehaus’ standards to create a sustainable high-performance facility. We anticipate the school will be a source of pride and opportunity for this new community and its future generations for years to come.”  

Construction on the school is due to start in April 2022 with delivery planned for the start of the 2023/24 academic year.

*Please note: all information is correct at the time of being published but timings may be subject to change*