Strategic Masterplanning and Campus Decarbonisation

As Chair of a governing body, I have found the masterplaninng process has transformed our ability to make well-grounded, financially-sound and sustainable decisions.

We engaged vHH to develop our masterplan. At the time I was unfamiliar with the concept of a masterplan and had assumed that it would be a equivalent to a schedule of works, the kind of which most organisations are familiar with and underpins their routine estate management. As we embarked on the process, it very quickly became clear that my assumption had been wrong. The masterplan is far from a tick box exercise; it is a piece of work with great depth and provides the school/ organisation with a detailed and coherent understanding of their site, its current uses and its future potential. 

In brief summary, work involves an in-depth and holistic look at the site. This includes an assessment of the conditions of buildings in terms of their material state, function, sustainability and aspiration in terms of the school’s strategic development as well as green spaces, entrances and the overall functionality of all areas of the site. As well as being a technical exercise, the masterplan process has a very human dimension: process includes conversations carried out with a wide range of stakeholders to ascertain their relationship with the site and its buildings.

Working with Josh and Peter has been a pleasure.  Their approach is collaborative, leading us through their findings with patience and understanding. They have worked with both a small steering group on a regular basis and have presented to the wider governing body at crucial stages of the process.

The main challenge to my initial assumptions of a masterplan is that it is not an exercise which you provides a single answer. Rather, I have come to think of the masterplan as a living and multi-dimensional map of the site which gives those in leadership the tools they need for decision-making. We have been very grateful in particular for  for the dimension of sustainability which features strongly in the process. Governing bodies often have limited resources and ageing buildings to deal with and this strand of work has been very helpful in terms of framing future investment.

Chair of Governors


We are delighted to be working with forward-thinking clients to develop a school masterplan that encompasses retrofit plans and an energy efficiency strategy for their sites. We are very supportive of their focus on getting best use out of their existing campus, which has over 30 existing buildings of widely different nature, by enhancing and upgrading what they have, rather than creating ‘carbon-intensive’ new buildings.

The energy audit and refurbishment form part of the wider masterplan strategy. Our process included gathering site data from public sources, visits to assess condition, character and quality of the estate, extensive stakeholder engagement with frontline staff and pupils, careful review and discussion with SLT and the Governing Body, and a formal options appraisal process. Our masterplan has been formally adopted by the School, establishing the long-term development framework, including a retrofit roadmap. This gives a trajectory towards carbon neutral, to 2030 and beyond, outline design for potential projects, and the overall phasing and implementation strategy.

The masterplan was fully costed by Turner & Townsend, working with our project data, so that the Governing Body were able to understand the budget for each element of the masterplan, and to decide how this would be aligned with schools’ business plan and fundraising strategy and the masterplan delivery priorities. This includes retrofit plans as well as the few new-build projects, and landscape and infrastructure works.

The masterplan is a holistic review of the existing campus, a record of existing challenges and opportunities and provides a roadmap for a responsible, sustainable and prosperous future for the school.