Introduction In the last two decades the provision of living and care supported accommodation for older people has developed considerably. A large number of accommodation typologies exist such as retirement housing, age restricted housing, sheltered housing, assisted living, extra care living, residential care homes, nursing care homes, dementia and specialist care accommodation. The demographic profile of the UK population in 2006 showed the number of people aged over 65 was at 13.7%. This figure is expected to grow to 24% by 2041 creating a strong market case for more specialist facilities of these kinds. The actual housing need and supply in relation to older people is important to overall housing supply as it is desirable to have a wide range of housing need types to maximise the prospect that older people can live where they wish to. For some, remaining in their existing community or close to family is a main determinant of where they live. If this is not possible considerable travel can be involved as part of an important continuing relationship and pattern of support. This maximises the prospect that people will not be living in houses that are larger than their needs and that would better meet the needs of new and younger families. Although for many, the focus of elderly personâ€™s care, in practice, should be to give them the support they need to stay in their family homes, for many others increasing isolation and infirmity and reduced mobility brought with age can make home a prison where lack of company and the burden of household chores and maintenance accelerate a reduced quality of life and poor health. For many, the company of a care village or care home offers a range of accommodation and practical support for daily activities and access to therapies and daily company, offers the best option for housing in the later years. Over our 20 years in practice, Nash Partnership has developed considerable experience across a wide range of specialist accommodation for older people. Such schemes face a number of challenges as sites are only rarely allocated in Local Plans for older peopleâ€™s housing and providers often have to compete for land and opportunities with other land users such as housing and industry, often requiring a special case to be made.
Often the large sites that schemes need are initially allocated for alternative uses, meaning the planning application case for change of use has to be made rigorously and endorsed by strong evidence of demand, support by a Local Authority Housing Department or by applying National and local demographic as evidence of housing stock analysis. Often the buildings such schemes need are untypically large, judged within the established pattern of a mature residential area. The optimum size of such schemes increases to optimise the shift staffing pattern and the range of shared community facilities such schemes ideally require. Therefore, demonstrating the use can be suitably designed for the architectural or historic character of an area is important. At some sites scale and community significance can be used to create distinctive character and community focus, and often its form needs to be broken down within an existing grain for the contours of a sloping site. Often neighbours will question the need for care facilities as part of their objection to major change. Invariably the planning use class of a proposal comes under close scrutiny since specialist housing that does not have a clear contractually controlled model will be classed as C3 (Conventional Housing) and be liable for supporting the due quota of affordable housing. This is currently a grey area across the Country where each Planning Authority tends to take its own stance, so familiarity with the relevant case law is an important consideration at the present time. These are all common planning and design issues likely to arise in the promotion of such specialist housing and care facilities. We have found all such schemes require a high level of positive promotion and presentation and a significant amount of engagement with local residents, Local Authorities, Parish Councils, etc in order to build a secure positive case for planning permission.
Specialised Care - Housing Design Although most care schemes aim to offer their residents a property vehicle in which they can maintain an equity interest well into old age, for those on a fixed pension income the cost of maintenance, management and care charges are important factors. It is an important consideration that such schemes can be staffed and managed efficiently and this is very much determined by layout, materials, and services As care becomes an increasingly important element of a residentâ€™s life, ensuring that this can be provided to a high standard is important, and much specialised knowledge is needed in spatial design, in mobility aids, hygiene, monitoring, warden call systems, patient and residentsâ€™ comfort and operating economics. The client body for these schemes includes the care home operator, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), residents, family, visitors and staff. Understanding the perception of each user group has been essential to the work we have done in this sphere. We are particularly interested in recognising the role of older peopleâ€™s care within the heart of established residential and urban/suburban communities so that people remain part of an active society within a local community which feels able to use their facilities, and ideally where staff can to be drawn from the local area.
Construction For operators developing housing care facilities getting best value for money is very important, something ultimately reflected in the costs and charges residents will pay, and important to the long term security of operatorsâ€™ investments and funding. For buildings on this scale construction methodologies and approaches to infrastructure, layout and foundations already exist which combine with the economics of repetition within layout and economies of scale. As a practice we are experienced in such methods as flat pack slab constructions, light weight pile and ground beam foundations, timber frame and alternative modern methods of construction and the pod based systems for fitting out en-suite bathrooms, bedrooms etc.
Mount Haviland, Bath The Mount Haviland project for the Bath Society of Friends was one of the most satisfying community led schemes we have been asked to undertake. It began when many of the Bath Quaker Meeting House members realised their aging friends were finding the options for supported housing, far too narrow. They fell between the stools of sheltered housing, which offered too little scope for individual personal identity and community life, and nursing homes which provide care but little independence or incentive to maintain mobility and life outside the residential community. For several years the group sought to acquire an appropriate site for conversion and development. We introduced them to a construction company with a strong philanthropic approach, who acquired a site on which we secured an extremely challenging planning permission within the extensive grounds of an Edwardian house. Our design for a range of one and two bedroom specialised apartments included a wide range of communal facilities with the potential for residentsâ€™ to garden and grow produce, and have art rooms, a dining room and visitorsâ€™ suites.
project examples Funding was tight and based on residents acquiring long leaseholds for reversionary sale to the management company. The project secured funding on a national scale and was able to offer some apartments on a short term rental basis as well. The resulting scheme has matured extremely well, has developed a distinct social and community identity and upheld all the aspirations of its founding development team. We learnt a lot from Mount Haviland about how to combine a desire for independent living, even into old age, with the benefits of community support and mutual help and how to avoid a care building feeling institutional.
St Albans Here, on a large retirement village complex involving over 55â€™s age adapted housing, assisted living, close care, a nursing home, and community facilities, we successfully fought an LPA refusal at Appeal, for a scheme made before our involvement on an outline application basis only. By showing how a scheme of this scale could actually complement the character of a rather ordinary suburban area, and create elements of public realm character, the appeal inspector accepted there were no valid grounds to oppose it.
Berryfield House On this former local hospital site in Bradford on Avon, we had to achieve a suitable standard of design and setting for a large listed building in well established landscaped grounds. The closure of the hospital was strongly resisted by the local community and creating new community healthcare as part of a development plan was an important dimension of the siteâ€™s mixed use redevelopment. Through a carefully planned programme of planning consultancy work involving character appraisal, historic study and extensive public consultation, we secured permission at LPA level for all elements of the reuse.
Sunrise For international assisted living providers, Sunrise, we have provided expert local context design advice and Conservation Planning advice on how the large built form such a complex requires, could be articulated and designed to sit well within a particular landscape context on a site within the South Cotswolds. Our scheme drew heavily on our long experience in dealing with historic buildings, drawing inspiration from the historic precedent of woollen mills of the 18th and 19th centuries, evident in the Stroud Valleys and the wool trade towns of West Wiltshire.
Woodstock House Our clients own a large rest home involving listed buildings in the grounds of Blenheim Palace with, inevitably, stunning views of the Palace and its lake, woods and monuments. Having considered the feasibility of expanding the floorspace into a retirement complex, our clients concluded conversion to a boutique hotel will best capitalise on the qualities of the site. We are progressing the necessary consents for conversion, change of use and extension to release value and create funds for our clients care village expansion programme in partnership with the operator.
Potterâ€™s Pond On this large valley bottom former industrial site close to the centre of the market town of Wotton-under-Edge, we have secured full planning permission for a retirement village and nursing home. The site adjoins the townâ€™s conservation area and we have used both physical and computer generated models to analyse the emerging design, test its impacts and communicate them to neighbours and townâ€™s folk at a series of public consultation meetings. With large numbers of the population now living into their eighties and nineties and demographics indicating the proportion of those doing so increasing in years to come, schemes such as this will play a very important role in expanding housing options for the elderly and releasing existing but underused housing stock back into the community.
Heather House Proposed refurbishment and extension of an existing care home in Batheaston to provide 28 new assisted living units. Approx 2000sq.m new floor area with parking for 34 cars. Two to four storey terraced housing follows the contours of the steeply sloping site to maintain views of the flood meadows beyond and to minimise the bulk of the new buildings in the context of the surrounding area.
Potterâ€™s Pond Care Village Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire In the heart of an established community, with new waterside landscaping, new public footpaths - the restoration of a historic mill, new community healthcare and meeting rooms, solar water heating and construction specification equivalent to Code 4 of Code for Sustainable Homes
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