At Henlow Church of England Academy, Marley’s AntiSlip Plus® decking was used to create a visually striking, low-maintenance and slip-resistant courtyard area, along with matching planters and seating.
Henlow Church of England Academy in Bedfordshire has recently completed a classroom and ancillary area extension scheme. The project also involved the construction of a beautifully landscaped courtyard area, complete with Marley AntiSlip Plus® smooth boards used as decking and as a construction material to build coordinating seating and planters.
As part of Central Bedfordshire Council’s Schools for the Future programme, schools in the region are beginning to move from the three-tier education system to the more widely used two-tier model. Henlow Academy, a middle school, required renovation to start its transition to a secondary school, adding specialist teaching classrooms and making space for a new cohort of students.
The first phase of the project, overseen by PCMS Design, involved the construction of a new two-storey classroom block extension incorporating five classrooms, four science labs and a lift. The placement of the extension resulted in a large outdoor area that would be transformed into an attractive courtyard perfect for socialising, recreation and eating.
The narrow courtyard was a substantial area to fill, and PCMS Design created a distinctive landscape with a striped appearance, alternating between smooth timber decking and grey resin or natural turf. The different materials provided contrast in colour and texture, and the visual lines were further enhanced with planters and seating made from the timber decking boards.
Marley’s decking specialist Laura Qualters worked closely with PCMS Design to provide support throughout the project. She helped with product selection and procured samples of the decking – including enough to enable builders to mock-up one of the benches in advance.
Marley AntiSlip Plus® smooth decking was specified due to its non-slip properties, which were particularly important for the space as children will be using it to run and play. The decking was also selected due to its durability and long lifespan.
Alex Bond, from PCMS Design, comments: “We chose Marley because it is a market leader with an excellent track record of durable and good quality timber products.”
PCMS Design opted for timber decking instead of a composite material, as they wanted a natural product that would soften the area and achieve something visually appealing and creative. Timber offered a natural look that would also weather beautifully over time.
AntiSlip Plus® decking provides a durable and effective anti-slip surface, minimising any risk of slipping, even in adverse weather. It has a smooth profile, which looks great in modern landscaping projects, and it is ideal for decking in schools, nurseries and playgrounds, thanks to its safety features and natural appearance.
All Marley anti-slip timber decking has been independently tested for slip resistance by the Health and Safety Laboratory and provides a low slip potential. It is strength graded to a minimum of C16, and it is preservative-treated to provide a 30-year desired service life.
The sustainability of the decking was another key consideration, as Alex adds: “Timber is a renewable material, and we always try where possible to specify products from sustainable sources.”
All Marley timber decking is supplied with FSC® or PEFC™ chain of custody certification. This confirms that the timber is sourced from responsibly managed forests. Marley is also certified by the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) as a Responsible Timber Purchaser, meaning we have implemented and demonstrated a due diligence process for timber products placed on the UK market.
Installing anti-slip decking
Before work began at Henlow Academy, the external landscaping had to be submitted to Central Bedfordshire Council; the landscape officer approved the design, including the timber decking products.
To ensure adequate drainage, concrete channels were built across the courtyard first. Then the decking was constructed using 34mm AntiSlip Plus® decking boards, which were laid on a product manufactured from recycled plastic bottles.
The design concept was for the vertical lines of the decking to continue in a visual line up the benches and planters – and the resulting furniture needed to be durable and non-slip, as children may climb or jump on them. The 68mm AntiSlip Plus® decking boards were the ideal choice, along with some steel fixings and supports.
The finished courtyard has a striking appearance, and students and staff are already enjoying the space. More than 50% of the courtyard surface is timber and, as well as being attractive, slip-resistant and durable, it’s also easy to maintain – something that’s very important in a space created for children. PCMS Design has given instructions that the area should be jet washed at least once a year, and this can easily be carried out by the school’s site agent.
Commenting on the products and service provided by Marley, Alex says: “We would definitely specify Marley AntiSlip Plus® decking products for other school projects in the future. We were not only impressed by the timber product quality and consistency, but also by the excellent support we received from Marley.”
To learn more about our decking range, speak to Marley’s expert Laura Qualters: 07775 543709 | [email protected]
To register for Marley’s Timber Decking CPD, visit: www.marley.co.uk/cpd/timber-decking
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