TODD Architects’ design for a 132-apartment extra care facility in Crewe, replacing a scheme that was devastated by a fire in 2019 and displacing nearly 150 residents, has been recommended for planning approval by Cheshire East Council with full support from all councillors in attendance. The new Beechmere Extra Care facility, designed by TODD Architects for Avantage, is to be built within the same footprint of the original building but will offer a more contemporary approach to assisted living.
The scheme aims to provide residents with a community focused environment and will comprise two-bedroom apartments along with a restaurant, village hall, lounge, winter garden, fitness suite, activity room, IT room/library, hairdressing salon, and various support services. The apartments are mixed tenure but will be predominantly affordable housing for rent with a proportion for shared ownership and the remainder for sale.
Andrew Murray, Director at TODD Architects, comments: “We are delighted to finally get the go-ahead to rebuild Beechmere and reintroduce what is an important facility for the county’s community. We have worked closely with Avantage, Cheshire East Council and partner organisations to create a scheme that will be a benchmark in the provision of quality housing for older people, in an environment which offers a lifestyle choice, security and support.”
TODD Architects’ design for the new Beechmere will see a three-storey, H-shaped building constructed with a four-storey atrium connecting the two wings. The palette of materials responds to some of the character of the previous scheme, but brings it up to date with references to the local context and character. The building’s shape provides the facility with plenty of daylighting to all apartments, reducing reliance on artificial light.
As a multi-award-winning healthcare design specialist, TODD Architects’ design response for the new Beechmere takes advantage of the practice’s extensive experience designing care facilities in other locations, as well as its close working relationships with knowledgeable health-sector experts. Every opportunity has been taken to create spaces where residents, staff and visitors can interact at different levels, allowing individuals the flexibility to engage on their own terms. Corridors, for example, have been purposely designed with interaction between residents in mind; an alcove at the entrance to each apartment offers an informal area off the corridor in which residents can chat and mingle.
The atrium will form the busy hub of the community, with various activity centres branching off, including the library, lounge, village hall and craft room. These will overlook and open into the community village garden, enhancing resident experiences by creating views ‘to’, ‘from’ and ‘between’ the internal and external surroundings. An informal café area will spill out into the atrium from the south-facing restaurant, which has its own terrace and outdoor eating area.
The landscape is another key element in supporting the well-being of the residents and TODD’s design actively promotes the use of the outdoor areas for exercise and relaxation and provides social spaces for the residents and community groups to meet and chat.
“We are passionate about designing innovative elderly care buildings that focus on improving resident experience. We have designed Beechmere to primarily be an enabling environment for the residents, supporting their individual care needs and providing lifestyle choice,” explains Andrew Murray. “Beechmere also creates a ‘bridge’ for older people in the surrounding community who will be actively encouraged to participate in events and to make use of the facilities within the development.”