Welsh Slate helps a unique Conservation Area regenerate

A new school at the heart of a town’s regeneration has been roofed in Welsh Slate.

Welsh Slate was specified for a roof at a new school in a “unique” Conservation Area for its aesthetics, longevity and performance qualities.

Some 12,000 500mm x 300mm Penrhyn Heather Blue Celtic grade slates have been used at a 30˚ pitch on the two-storey element of the £7million replacement Whitefield Infant and Nursery School in Nelson, Lancashire.

The existing school was too small for the growing numbers of children in the regenerating area and as it was on a very confined site, a new site for a building was identified close by alongside the Leeds Liverpool canal.

The 2,300m2 build by main contractor Conlon Construction comprises nine infant classrooms, library, SEN classroom and a nursery in a single-storey block with “northlight” roofs of zinc and a steel frame and masonry walled two-storey administration block duo-pitched in Welsh Slate.

This block comprises a hall on the ground floor and offices and support spaces on the first floor, which due to the slope of the site, is at street level.

Andrew Howorth, head of design at Lancashire County Council’s building design and construction department, said: “The area is a Conservation Area and the demolition of derelict houses to increase the site areas was controversial. English Heritage and other heritage bodies had to be consulted on the design of the new building.”

This Conservation Area is considered “unique” by English Heritage because its urban fabric remains largely intact, with two-bedroomed terrace houses predominant.

Mr Howorth added: “We specified Welsh Slate to blend with the roofs of the surrounding terraces of houses. It is the roofing material used on the most visible roof of the school.

“Slate was suitable for use because of its longevity and it provided a combination of aesthetic and performance qualities that were suitable for the project.”

Roofed by Pears Roofing, the project has been shortlisted for the SCALA (Society of Chief Architects in Local Authorities) Civic Building of the Year.