David Morley Architects and Michael Aukett Architects win planning for major disability sports venue in Gravesend



Kent County Council has granted outline planning permission for a state-of-the-art disability sports, art and cultural centre to be built in the grounds of Ifield Foundation Special School in Gravesend.


The project, currently known as ‘iSparc’, will help Ifield School create a regional centre of excellence for disability sports and performing arts. Facilities will be open, not just to Ifield School’s pupils, but to members of the public including disability groups and children and teachers from other schools.


Having cleared the first planning hurdle, the school will now be able to progress discussions with potential funders.


The centre has been designed by Aukett Morley Architects – a joint venture between London-based Michael Aukett Architects and David Morley Architects.


The project’s design team includes landscape consultants Hyland Edgar Driver; traffic engineers TPA/White Young Green; structural, mechanical, electrical and environmental consultants Cundall and cost consultants Stace.


 iSparc will include:


- A six-badminton court sports hall with equipment for Paralympic sports such as goalball, boccia, wheelchair basketball and other activities.
- Accessible 25m eight-lane swimming pool with ramp, hoists, spectator area and cafeteria.
- Dance and performing arts studio and therapy rooms.
- Room with sunken trampolines, hoists and specialised equipment.
- Outdoor football pitch, running track, climbing wall and wildlife area.


Pam Jones OBE, Headteacher of Ifield School, said: “We’re very excited that Kent County Council has granted us outline planning permission for iSparc, especially as the school has been trying to build new sports facilities since 2002. Our challenge now is to secure funding for such an exciting scheme. Kent does not currently have a combined disability sports, arts and cultural venue and this centre will help to inspire children with special needs across the countyto get involved in a multitude of sports and performing arts.”


Andy Mytom, partner, David Morley Architects, said, “iSparc is a shining example of what can be achieved by a Client that understands the potential for positive change through arts and sports.  Ifield School’s passion and commitment to make this vision a reality is second to none and we are delighted to be working along-side them on this incredible project.”