St Mary and St Pancras C of E Primary School

Somers Town, London

External areas are one of the strongest aspects of the design, with a variety of play and educational areas in a tight urban site. Designed by Shepherd Epstein Hunter.

The school is located on an inner-city site in Somers Town, close to the north London railway terminals of St Pancras and King’s Cross. It is surrounded by densely developed, mainly local authority rented, housing and serves a diverse urban community. The percentage of pupils from minority ethnic groups is much higher than average, as is the percentage whose first language is not English. Approximately a third of the pupils are eligible for free school meals, which is above the national average.

The school is voluntary aided by the Diocese of London, and is one-form entry (210 pupils total), plus a nursery of 30 children. Until recently accommodation was a collection of buildings dating from the Victorian era, the 1950s and 1970s. In addition there was a social club and a caretaker’s house.

The rebuilding of the school came about through the Diocese of London leasing the air rights above the school building to Unite, a student housing developer, for 125 years. It constructed three floors of housing containing 188 student rooms above a new primary school and a SureStart office on most of the ground and first floors. The proceeds of the sale funded all but about £300,000 of the cost of the school.

The new building is sited along the two perimeter edges of the site and this has allowed the creation of much larger play areas as well as a landscaped garden area.

Design work started in early 2004, and planning approval was granted in March 2005. Construction started on site in the summer of 2005, and the whole project was completed in 13 months, with the school opening in October 2006.