The site

Existing site

The school site is located in Higher St. Budeaux – an area in the northwest of the city lying to the east of the river Tamar. The site lies on the footprint of a former manor house and its grounds measuring approximately 1.9ha in area. The site originally came into educational usage during the early to mid-twentieth century as an Open Air School and subsequently Mount Tamar Special School.

The northern half of the site is home to the school’s teaching and administrative buildings.   The secondary block proposed to be demolished is a single storey structure located in the north eastern portion of the site directly to the west of the sports hall and the main car park.  The southern portion of the site sits on lower ground than the northern and is occupied by the school’s outdoor amenity space, including a hard play space and sporadically located play equipment.

There are many issues that make the existing building an unsuitable space, however the most serious include structural problems, constant roof leaks, lack of natural light and lack of purpose designed spaces to meet the bespoke needs of the students at Mount Tamar School.  The building is easily scalable at many points which makes students climbing onto the roof a daily occurrence, as some students perceive it to be a refuge space. This presents a serious risk of injury.  Overall, the existing secondary block results in a wholly unfit environment for modern day learning, amplified by the additional needs of Mount Tamar pupils.

In simple terms, whilst the school and trust aim to achieve the best possible outcome from school for Mount Tamar students, some of the city’s most vulnerable children are being let down by the state of the existing facility, and the need for the new building is plain and urgent. The DfE and Ofsted both recognise this School needs a new purpose-built secondary block with the school’s most recent Ofsted report noting the following:

The site is not safe. It is in a very poor state of repair. It is not conducive to learning or effective behaviour management. This means that pupils are unsafe and have little pride in their school. Leaders should work with the local authority to make the site safe. They should improve the environment so that it supports effective learning and behaviour.”

A new block will provide students with modern, fit-for-purpose learning spaces and is essential for facilitating effective learning, supervision, and ensuring a safe environment in which young people can thrive.


Our Proposal


Development will involve the demolition of the existing secondary block and replacement with a new purpose built single storey facility further south within the school grounds and directly to the west of the existing hard play space.

The proposed new secondary block will be of bespoke design required to ensure an optimal environment for learning tailored to the diverse range of students’ specific needs. Furthermore, it will provide a safe and secure environment for students and staff that the current secondary block has long been unable to provide.

The area vacated by the demolition of the existing secondary block will be re-engineered and re-landscaped to provide replacement for the green space given over to the new secondary block.

Temporary construction access will be achieved from Rorkes Close which will also serve as an emergency/maintenance only access upon completion.


Quattro Design Architects are experienced in designing educational buildings and are well placed to provide a design response that marries functionality and sustainability with an appropriate aesthetic design to its surroundings.

The new building has been designed to cater specifically for the needs of Mount Tamar secondary pupils and staff to provide an excellent teaching facility and appropriate learning environment for challenged young people to thrive. The proposal is a single storey building with a parapet design to prevent the building being climbed by pupils. Functional large classrooms with an abundance of natural light and breakout spaces are key to providing a positive learning environment. The external brick façade features different coloured brick piers and banding along the parapet, adding greater depth and elevating the overall design.



The Proposal will include a scheme of landscaping including new planting to complement the existing boundary trees and vegetation and improve the relationship between the school site and neighbouring properties.


Permanent access to the school site will be unchanged by the proposals. Pedestrian and vehicle access as well as the taxi drop-off point will remain via the main car park located on Row Lane.

During construction temporary access will be created from Rorkes Close.  After completion of development, this will be used as an access point by maintenance and emergency vehicles only.


The site is located within Flood Zone 1, which is the lowest probability risk of flooding. The proposed drainage strategy will ensure there is no increased flood risk to the site or neighbouring properties as a result of the development.

Ecology and Biodiversity Net Gain

The area on which the proposed development will sit is of low biodiversity value. However, the final application will be supported by ecology surveys and the landscape design will propose additional planting and habitat creation and provide a 10% biodiversity net gain.

Sustainability and Energy

The new building will adopt a “fabric-first” approach with high levels of insulation and air tightness to reduce heat transfer and the associated increased energy demand. High performance solar control glazing will maximise daylight transmission into the spaces whilst minimising unwanted solar heat gains. Building services will generally be high-efficiency with intelligent control to minimise energy consumption, with heat pumps providing a low-carbon source of heating. Due to the potential for vandalism, it is intended to design-out the requirement for solar PV panels, however this is subject to further discussion with the LPA.

Have Your Say

The public consultation and feedback questionnaire will be available to view and complete until 17:00 on  Sunday 31st March 2024.  After this date, Mount Tamar School will review all community feedback which will help to evolve the design of the proposal.

Next steps

The public consultation and feedback questionnaire will be available to view and complete until Sunday 31st March 2024.  After this date, Mount Tamar School will review all community feedback which will help to evolve the design of the proposal.

The planning application will then be finalised ahead of its submission to Plymouth City Council. A further opportunity to comment on the proposals will be facilitated through the Council’s statutory consultation on the planning application.