Contractor Henry Brothers has broken ground on a new £4.4m nursery and forest school being built at Staffordshire University’s Leek Road site in Stoke-on-Trent.

Due for completion in 2022, the new building will create more than 50 new nursery places for the local community. It will provide a new focal point for the University’s family-friendly campus as well as being the first net-zero carbon facility on campus.

Ian Taylor, Managing Director of Henry Brothers Midlands, said: “It’s exciting to have started work on this superb net carbon zero nursery and forest school at Staffordshire University.

“Henry Brothers has a wealth of experience in partnering with universities and we are enormously proud to be supporting Staffordshire University in the enhancement of facilities for students, staff and their families. We are looking forward to seeing this project take shape over the next few months.”

Providing a sustainable place for early years learning with a connection to the immediate landscape and nature reserve, the new 745m2 facility will count four inspirational learning spaces, enhanced with digital technology and a forest school provision, among its amenities.

Offering places for the children of students, staff, and the wider local community, the new facility will more than double the University’s existing nursery capacity. One hundred full-day care places for children aged from 0 to five are set to be created, with the capacity to provide additional childcare and education for children from five to 12 years outside of term time.

Amanda Sherratt, Head of Childcare and Family Services at Staffordshire University, said: “Children and families are at the heart of everything we do and we’re very excited to see work at our new nursery and forest school commence. The new premises will provide safe, authentic woodland experiences for children in the city with endless outdoor learning opportunities such as identifying nature, play-based learning, den building and forest art. We look forward to welcoming our first intake next year.”

Andrew Proctor, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Digital) at Staffordshire University, said: “These exciting new facilities will build upon the excellent nursery provision we have at our University, as well as provide cutting-edge early years education to support the next generation.

“The nursery environment this will create will be unique to the area blending indoor and outdoor learning for children. Not only will this support the development of early years skills, but it will provide children with opportunities to immerse themselves in an environment enhanced by digital technology.

“It is also an example of our University’s commitment to achieve a Carbon Net Zero position by 2030, improving the efficiency of campus operations and helping our communities benefit from a more sustainable future.”

The project team consists of Mace as project and cost managers, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios as lead designer and architect, Max Fordham as building services engineers, Civic Engineers as structural engineers and transport consultants, and Re-form Landscape as landscape designers.

The Henry Brothers’ design team includes CPMG Architects, structural and civil engineer Hexa and Couch, Perry, Wilkes for M&E services.

Set to welcome its first intake in January 2022, the new nursery and forest school is the latest in a series of ongoing campus transformation projects and investment at Staffordshire University.

Henry Brothers Midlands, based at Priory Court, Derby Road, Beeston, is part of The Henry Group, which comprises a number of manufacturing and construction sector companies, ranging from external construction through to interiors fit-out. In partnership with clients, it has a proven track record in education, defence, accommodation, commercial, industrial, transport and healthcare sectors.

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