Planning permission was secured for supported living accommodation catering for young adults with learning difficulties. The scheme comprised nine self contained units of accommodation together with a communal resource facility and staff base. The hybrid planning consent also approved three bungalows in outline.
Initially the project required DJD Architects to assist the Client in securing a bid to act as developer and deliver the scheme for Staffordshire County Council who owned the site. Feasibility options were developed to inform the Client’s bid and with this assistance the Client was successful in securing the project.
Special consideration was given to the design to avoid institutional connotations, and reinforce the domestic character of the scheme. This included proposal of traditional domestic building forms, of one and two stories with symmetrical pitched roofs. Vernacular wall and roofing materials were used in the design and expressed in a contemporary way to provide the scheme with its own identity drawn from the surrounding suburban context.
An important aspect of promoting the independence of tenants was to minimise communal circulation areas and focus on providing each suite of accommodation with a clearly defined front door. All of the ground floor units are designed with entrances from the communal gardens around which the buildings are arranged.
The project was in part funded by the Homes and Communities Agency, Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund (CASSH), first launched in October 2012. The purpose of the funding was to address the need for affordable specialised housing for older people and adults with disabilities or mental health problems. Funding was made available as part of a Department for Health strategy to allow individuals to live independently for as long as possible.
Key constraints of the site included proximity of the adjacent primary school for children with learning difficulties. In addition to consideration of the future construction and use of the proposals the design team also had to address the incoming statutory services to the site which were shared between the school and existing building on the site which was to be demolished. This included the boiler for the school which was housed in the existing building which was to be demolished.
Access to the site was also crucial and the existing access to the site was through the grounds of the school. As this would not have been desirable either during construction or in use. Reinstatement of a disused secondary access to the site was proposed to serve the new development. DJD Architects worked with Planning and Highway Officers to gain support for this arrangement.
The site is surrounded by mature trees which contribute to the character of the site and the proposals were developed to retain these trees, taking account of tree canopies and root protection areas.
DJD Architects developed the scheme to meet the demanding requirements of the Client and funders. These included compliance with the Lifetime Homes Standard, Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, and wheelchair accessibility.