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Norwich Lower School Extension Public Consultation


Welcome to our virtual public consultation, the purpose of which is to inform and provide an opportunity for interested parties to comment on the emerging proposals for the extension of Norwich Lower School.

Norwich School are seeking to replace temporary classrooms at the Lower School with a permanent structure to provide excellent learning facilities befitting of the Lower School’s established status as a leading educational provider.

This consultation forms part of Norwich School’s commitment to provide information to the local community and is an opportunity to comment on the emerging proposals for the development. Following this, the feedback will be taken into consideration and the plans amended where possible.

Please take your time to look through the below, which contains information on the site, the design proposals and key technical considerations.

We are keen to hear your views, so please feel free to provide your comments. For information on how to submit comments, please refer to the ‘Have Your Say’ section of this virtual consultation.

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Aerial View of the Site



The Lower School occupies a sizeable site, mostly used as green space and playing fields within a varied city centre setting. The site for the development is located on land fronting Bishopgate and opposite The Great Hospital. It is allocated as car parking land but is currently occupied by the temporary Portakabins. The proposed development will see the existing building extended to the north towards the Bishopgate access.

Through sequential testing of other available locations, the chosen site fronting onto Bishopgate, was the logical choice as summarised below:

Brownfield Land: the site was previously developed and hosted now demolished school buildings in the 1960s and 70s.

  • Opportunity to dramatically improve the entrance and visitor / parent impression.
  • Limits the potential encroachment onto open land valued for its amenity to the local area.
  • Opportunity for the School to provide a stronger presence on Bishopgate and help to define and reinforce the setting of Bishopgate.

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Aerial View of the Site

The site is generally flat with only a slight change in level dropping from north to south.

The land is currently laid as asphalt surfacing and is bounded by a narrow bed of soft landscaping and trees to the west. An Arboriculture Impact Assessment has been undertaken on the nearby trees to assist with their protection and no trees will be lost as a result of these proposals.


The site is situated within an historic district of Norwich within the Cathedral Close Character Area and is within the Cathedral Measure’s area. The site bisects a predominantly residential context at Bishopgate’s eastern end and a more mercantile / ecclesiastical use to the west. Opposite the Lower School site the Grade 1 listed St Helens Church and the Great Hospital provide context of national significance. The site also sits within the Conservation Area and in close proximity to the listed Cathedral Precinct Wall. It is acknowledged that the proposals need to respond carefully to the historic context.   

This part of the site is designated as Open Space under local planning policy DM8 and is part of an Area of Main Archaeological Interest under planning policy DM9.

Views, vistas and landmarks are an important ingredient in defining the distinctive character of the Cathedral Close. Proposals for this site need to demonstrate limited impact on protected views and nearby heritage assets.

The extension site has seen several different developments since the late C19th, almost all of which have since been demolished.  The St Helens Church School (associated with Church at the Great Hospital) previously occupied the site and benefited from the extensive grounds. From the early 1900s the St Helens School building was positioned on the site of the current Portakabins. The old footings are expected to be present below the proposed extension. St Helen’s School buildings were typically Victorian in design and scale as can be seen in historic drawings and a photograph from circa late 1960s.

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 Historic MapsImage 4

Historic Photograph



The proposal will seek permission to remove the temporary classrooms and replace them with a new build extension which will provide the following:

Five new dedicated teaching spaces (Art, Design Technology, Computer Lab, Music Rehearsal and Science)

  • An additional Study Classroom
  • Reception, visitor services and offices.

The proposed new classrooms will replace those currently located within the three temporary Portakabins. The additional rehearsal room and computer lab are necessary as pupils currently cross the street to make use of practice rooms available at The Great Hospital or use facilities located the Senior School; neither being ideal.

These proposals are also in response to the Cathedral Dean & Chapter and Norwich City Councils desire to see the permanent removal of the Portakabins. 


The proposed site layout has been developed alongside the client, other specialist design consultants and through the pre-application planning process. The proposed layout and arrangement is governed by a set of strong design principles, the core of which are:

Improve the School’s presence and visibility from the street and to bring legibility and definition at this juncture along Bishopgate.

  • Scale sensitively with the adjacent residential terrace with minimal overshadowing.
  • Respect the setting of the historic Great Hospital and listed Precinct Wall.
  • Exploit views of the Cathedral within the visitor entrance experience.
  • 2-Storey proposals which mark a new chapter in the Lower School’s evolution.
  • Create a logical extension using the existing ‘spine’ arrangement established within the main building.
  • Preserve the existing trees and integrate them into a solar shading strategy.
  • Preserve the in/out access loop to continue to minimise traffic impact at drop off and pickup times.

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Proposed Site Plan / Ground Floor Plan

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Proposed First Floor Plan

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Proposed Bishopgate Streetscene


The proposed appearance and design is summarised below:

This proposal presents a single but prominent gable end facing Bishopgate which continues the streets characteristic vertical emphasis and articulated roofline but remaining subservient to the historic context.

  • A design form which respects the historic context and is more muted with components parts which are more in-keeping with local scale. The proposals are a new intervention into the street scene with gable forms which resolve the sites multi-aspect characteristics.
  • The smaller gable end facing west softens the building in its set-back position and grounds the extension to the existing building and improves its relationship to the end of terraced housing.
  • A composition of largely traditional materials with sharp detailing and contemporary subtle brick arrangements at the human scale. Clear use of a hipped roof to turn the corner and relate the extension to the existing long elevation.
  • ‘horizontal’ window designs provide a fenestration strategy which is in keeping with the scale and form of the existing school
  • The long west elevation has been carefully considered in its proportions in relation to existing elevations.
  • A modern entrance and overhanging projection to join old and new buildings. Its design condenses the use of flint, brick, timber, and glass used elsewhere into a welcoming entrance at the very human scale.
  • A muted material palette has been proposed which echoes those of close neighbours with less emphasis on glazed elements and lightweight materials; The proposal takes references from nearby buildings and suggests bricks more similar to those proposed for the replacement Elaine Herbert House.

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 Proposed North Elevation

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Proposed West Elevation

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Concept Sketch - Entrance & Reception


Most movements to/from the Lower School take place via Bishopgate. There are separate in/out gateways onto the street with vehicle manoeuvring governed by a loop to minimise queuing and disruption off-site. Footpaths either side of Bishopgate lead pedestrians to the wider area or connect via separate access paths to the Cathedral Precinct / main Norwich School site.

The extension is a permanent replacement for the three large temporary buildings whilst taking the opportunity to add to the classroom types so that it may continue to provide a varied and rich education. The development is not intended to increase pupil numbers or visitor numbers to the site, and therefore it is not anticipated to affect the existing access provisions at the Lower School.


The proposals intend to make use of the existing trees to filter views of the extension and soften the surroundings. No trees will be lost as a result of these proposals. Areas of soft landscaping will be increased and used to define the pedestrian routes and create points of separation from the extension.


A Flood Risk Assessment and Drainage Strategy will be prepared by an Engineer and submitted as part of the planning application. It is anticipated that the proposed development will reduce the amount of hardstanding onsite. The site currently positively drains, and it is anticipated that the proposed development will connect to the existing drainage system. Sustainable Drainage Systems will be utilised as required and designed by a Civil Engineer.

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Proposed West Elevation


Your comments and opinions are important to us and will help in the continued preparation of this planning application.

You can provide feedback in the following ways:

Write to us at:

Chaplin Farrant Limited

51 Yarmouth Road



Email us at:

Please add “#6400 Norwich Lower School” in the subject line, together with your name and address in the text. 

This consultation closes at 5pm on 28 September 2022.

We will then review the comments and will take them into account in the preparation of the planning application. We will also report the outcome of this consultation in a ‘Statement of Community Involvement’ that will accompany the planning application when it is submitted to Norwich City Council. 


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