Topographic and Utility surveys for historic Gresham’s School in Norfolk

Mark Johnson
Survey Case Study by Mark Johnson National Accounts Manager 08/05/2024

Since 2017, our expert survey team have been working with Gresham’s School, providing a range of measured surveying services and drawings to update its site asset record to assist with planning acquisition and development for the school.


Topographic and Utility surveys for historic Gresham’s School in Norfolk

Working with an independent school in Norfolk

Gresham’s School is a co-educational independent boarding and day school in Holt, Norfolk.

Founded in 1555, the school provides high quality education for children aged two up to Sixth Form, from the UK and overseas.

Gresham’s sits on an estate spanning 200 acres near the North Norfolk coast, featuring state-of-the-art music and theatre facilities, a new centre for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education and extensive sporting and outdoor activity facilities.

Due to funding from donations – including those from ex-pupil and Dyson founder James Dyson – the school is actively expanding.

Topographic and Utility surveys for historic Gresham’s School in Norfolk

Surveying the estate of a historic school

Primarily, Gresham’s School sought to create an up-to-date set of drawings to form an accurate site asset record, as well as obtain the necessary building data to inform decision-making on potential expansion and refurbishment projects.

CADS was initially approached by the Gresham’s estates team in 2017 to provide a survey of their on-site woodland.

Since then, as part of their expansion, our expert team have worked with the school and their chartered surveyors – Daniel Connal Partnership – on a number of briefs.

Providing a number of surveying services for Gresham’s School


1. Topographic and below ground utility detection surveys

We provided topographic surveys and utility detection surveys using a combination of Electromagnetic and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) of the Prep School, the car park and the Auden Theatre – a 300-seater performance space with a foyer, bar and terrace overlooking the grounds.

Our team delivered further topographic and GPR utilities surveys of the areas around the school chapel, Auden Theatre and Dyson buildings.

Gresham’s team outlined their preference to refrain from using surveying marker spray paint when carrying out the utilities survey, so our team used GNSS to capture the data and post process it offsite, mitigating the risk of temporarily spoiling the views across the manicured school grounds and gardens.

Following the surveys, we delivered:

  • Topographic data as 2D CAD drawings in .dwg file format, recorded and plotted at a scale of 1:200. All relevant services detail was recorded, and the below ground utilities data was integrated, including drainage manhole cover and invert levels for MEP (Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing) planned maintenance.
  • Statutory records for the remaining Gresham’s estate
Topographic and Utility surveys for historic Gresham’s School in Norfolk

2. Measured surveys

We provided measured surveys of a number of buildings at Gresham’s school.

The school was proposing to develop a drama and dance studio on the back of the Auden Theatre, and while the team did have access to existing drawings of the building, the accuracy was uncertain and the level of detail was insufficient for preparing architectural design proposals.

We undertook a measured building survey and delivered:

  • A black and white laser scan survey of the interior and external facades of the theatre building
  • A registered Point Cloud data file in a .rcp file format
  • 2D CAD drawings issued in a .dwg and .pdf file format, including floor plans, external elevations, an external roof plan and sections through the building structure

Using HD 3D laser scanners, our expert team also carried out a measured survey of the school block containing the main reception, offices, health centre, kitchens, dining room, refectory and common room, using the data to create 2D CAD drawings.

3. Integration of survey data and drawings

Early on in our work with Gresham’s, our team utilised both historic topographic survey data and information captured by us to create a masterplan of the site.

We incorporated 13 drawings – eight from external sources and five created by us – which featured the school grounds, including the tennis courts and the space around the Auden Theatre, plus floor plans and drainage layout.

Our team then continued to add to the masterplan throughout our work with the school, integrating new, up-to-date data of the buildings and site to create an accurate asset record.

Topographic and Utility surveys for historic Gresham’s School in Norfolk
Topographic and Utility surveys for historic Gresham’s School in Norfolk

Reliable data for expansion and refurbishment projects

Using our deliverables, Gresham’s school was able to use its accurate building and site data to make informed decisions on future plans.

Its expansion is ongoing, so the data we delivered will be instrumental in decision-making for future refurbishment and growth projects, as well as planning acquisition and development.

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CADS Surveys has provided us with invaluable insights into our estate. From the outset I was keen to develop a master digital plan for the school’s estate as well as provide core digital data for buildings facilities management.

They have not only efficiently delivered the accurate data we needed, but also equipped us with the site and building information to support day-to-day operational needs as well as to support the scoping of future development projects across the school.

We now have a robust asset record which is being continually matured, and now forms a key part in facilitating informed decision-making for our ongoing facilities management and development plans.

Paul Jochimsen Estates and Site Operations Manager at Gresham’s School

Get accurate and reliable surveys from CADS

Here at CADS, we deliver a wide range of surveying services for our clients, such as laser scan surveys, drone surveys, BIM surveys and more.

Our talented team have experience working with a large field of different clients, including architects, project teams, building contractors, landlords and property professionals across the UK and Europe. Plus, all of our surveyors hold DBS certificates which allow them to work in schools. If you need reliable and accurate data for your next project, speak to a member of our team today to find out more.

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