Proposed Three Ashes Care Home, Newent
A proposal to convert a former countryside dwelling to a 70 bed care home along with a communal area and a day care centre with hydrotherapy facilities. It was important to draw aesthetic influences from the rural nature of the site.
Toby Coombes – Architect, Coombes Everitt Architects (Chair)
Geoff Luxton – Architect, Luxton Architects
Paul Fong – Town Planner, Hunter Page Planning
Anthony Lewis – Architect, Yiangou Architects
Jonathan Nettleton – Architect, Blake Architecture
Helen McHollan – Landscape Architect, Illman Young
Stephen Wadsworth – Landscape Architect, Pegasus Landscape Design
The architect ran through the design developments of the proposal and explained the rationale of the changes. Although the design has changed the number of bedrooms and internal spaces has remained the same. The client then re-iterated the local demand for an increased capacity in the care facility. There is some further information in the form of 3 dimensional views presented from surrounding viewpoints. The brief is therefore still:
- To increase the capacity of the site from 10 to 70 bedrooms including all of the necessary ancillary spaces.
- There is also a need for a day care centre accommodating a hydrotherapy pool.
- Due to the nature of the facility the construction will happen in a phased process.
- To design the scheme in an aesthetic drawn from the rural nature of the site.
- The site is currently well screened by trees and mature hedgerows.
The comments below should be read in the context of the information that was available to the panel at the presentation and their earlier comments made following the presentation on the 20th September 2013.
- The proposed building comprises of a central hub with wings projecting from it. This form along with the curved roof forms make it a very difficult building to present with 2 dimensional elevations. The 3 dimensional views helped but their accuracy was questioned with some of the closer views (e.g. from the cricket pitch) appearing to show the building not being visible.
- There were extracts from a landscape appraisal presented as part of the discussions but it was felt that a fully detailed LVIA would be required on a scheme of this scale.
Context and Concept
- The area is largely open countryside with a number of detached private dwellings set in large private gardens. The existing building is a converted former dwelling on a large garden plot which is well screened from its neighbours and the passing road by mature trees and hedgerows. It is therefore felt the site is suitable for redevelopment.
- The site sits on the ridge of a hill and although it is well screened by existing mature vegetation, it would be visible from some local public vantage points.
- The proposal is to provide an increase to 70 bed spaces along with the associated communal areas and a day care centre housing hydrotherapy facilities.
- The principal of a central communal hub and separate wings of accommodation.
- Dutch barns were suggested as the aesthetic precedent with a mix of brickwork, oak frames and metal roofs.
- The design of a sustainable building and the integration of natural light can only help to reduce what could be a high energy building.
Response to Site
- We do still have concerns over the increased scale of the built form and question whether the proposal is too large for the site. The work the architect has done on the percentages of site/building do demonstrate that the footprint is not a large proportion of the site but the extended nature of the proposal means the building is long in all directions and its perceived size may appear large in the landscape.
- The scheme has developed in a positive manner and lowering the roof of the central ‘hub’ and simplification of the rooflines provide changes in the vertical height which help break up the length of the building.
- Although the existing building is screened by existing mature vegetation it is difficult to imagine the proposed scale of building being equally screened. We therefore believe accurate long and short range views of the building would be beneficial to demonstrate how it will sit in the landscape (by producing a more robust visual impact assessment). It should be noted that the panel felt the building need not be completely screened and the applicants design may sit acceptably in the landscape.
- It was also felt that the visual impact assessment from the key long range views could inform the proposed landscaping scheme in a more considered manner and establish the need for more, or less large scale planting on the site.
- There were also comments made on the quality of the internal landscape scheme which does not seem to provide any quality spaces for the future residents.
- The Dutch barn precedent is not convincing because of the scale of the development. The simplification of the design is however welcomed but still question whether a further reduction in vertical scale could be achieved through further landscape integration
- We felt the development is now more refined and the revised wall materials could provide a more suitable aesthetic. There are however concerns over the roof material as it will be very visible and the mix of single ply membranes and curved photovoltaic panels add little to the perceived quality of the building. We would expect to see a more robust naturally weathering roofing material (eg traditional metal standing seam roof) on a building of this scale, or even green roofs to reduce its visual impact and provide some natural rainwater attenuation.
We believe the site has scope for a redevelopment as it is well screened and sufficiently remote from its neighbours. A building of this scale could therefore be acceptable on this site if a greater understanding of the local landscape was provided. However it is acknowledged that the site is within the open countryside so the visual impact on the countryside is a primary consideration. Because of this we do still have concerns over the scale of the building that was presented to the panel and the additional 3 dimensional representations have not satisfied us that the proposed scheme would be suitable.
Overall this scheme has moved forwards a long way and is now a much better proposal. However, the Panel felt that if it were to be acceptable in this location there would need to be a lowering of the primary buildings and a more informed landscape proposal to accompany the development. The visual massing of the building could also be reduced by the introduction of more glazing into the core of the building. The Panel also felt that the barrel roofs proposed also increased the height of the building unnecessarily and perhaps a different roof shape could be adopted to lower the building into the site.