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First in class

First in class

HLG Associates proudly reflect on a great team effort leading to award-winning parish school project

We’ll all have different feelings about our old primary school. Some warm – best days of our lives. Some cold – couldn’t wait to leave. Some indifferent – seems such a long time ago now.

Whatever the emotion, however, one thing’s for sure: few can easily go back to school and relive the memories where they were made.

Unless, that is, you went to St Martin’s Primary School, which, since start of 2020, has been welcoming visitors under a new guise – as a busy and much-admired supermarket, veterinary practice, doctors’ surgery and medical and healthcare supplier.

And now there’s another reason to visit and admire La Vieille École, as it’s now nostalgically called. The development scooped a top prize at the recent Jersey Construction Council annual awards.

It’s a recognition that’s delighted the team behind this innovative project, and the Parish of St Martin which had the foresight, determination and backing of parishioners to convert the former school into well-used community hub.

‘From the start, there was determination by all involved in the project to achieve something special with the conversion,’ comments Simon Matthews, Director at HLG Associates, which was part of a development team that included Morris Architects, T&G Limited, Jersey Energy, Michael Felton and Larsen, as well as Parish of St Martin Client Team.  ‘There were over 100-years of memories tied up in the old school – warm, cold or indifferent, we were conscious that generations of ex-pupils and parents, many still living in the parish, had emotional investment in this particular building.

‘Everyone understandably felt a strong sense of responsibility for achieving something special as a result. Winning the recent award seems further endorsement that we managed to do just that.’

The opportunity to convert the former school, which first opened in 1900, followed a government decision to build a new St Martin’s Primary School on the adjacent playing field.

With a soon to be vacant, but much cherished, building on their hands, Parish authorities consulted with parishioners on conversion options. And sought a professional partner to help with public engagement and overall building redevelopment.

They appointed HLG, which took on project management, quantity surveying and provision of leadership services.

‘It was an honour to be chosen and trusted with the project,’ Mr Matthews recalls. ‘Being a local company, we’ve always taken special interest in Jersey’s heritage and have a strong affinity with the parish system through other projects. Fortunately, we quickly developed a good working relationship with St Martin. And brought on board an excellent team of professional companies to deliver what was a challenging but very exciting project.’

After four years of sustained engagement and construction effort, that project resulted in La Vieille École, a retail and service hub still very much at the heart of the parish community, and well-used by people living across the east of the island.

The accolade now underlining the building’s successful conversion is the Jersey Electricity Sustainability Award, which recognises the important contribution of sustainable architecture and construction.

It’s a status warmly welcomed by St Martin Constable Karen Shenton-Stone.

‘I’d like to congratulate all those involved in the project on winning the recent award. We’ve had nearly two years to recognise how valuable an asset La Vieille École is to the parish, and wider island. Seeing that recognition now coming through from the local construction industry just goes to emphasise how the overall development really is first in class.’

HLG Associates are a leading provider of pan-CI professional building, construction and sustainability services to private and public sector clients. If you’re interested in finding out more about the La Vieille École project or others, call 01534 888135 or email solutionsfound@hlgassociates.com.

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