RCKa’s new extra-care development at Boughton Heath in Chester raises the bar for retirement housing, placing wellbeing, sustainability and community cohesion at its heart.
A former garden centre will be replaced with an attractive composition of six villas arranged to integrate with a verdant landscape and respond to key routes providing a new gateway into Chester. The villas at Boughton Heath have been designed to accommodate the needs of a retirement community, including a wide range of communal facilities that will be open to the public. The development has also been planned to adhere to the new Fitwel Standard, which is an accreditation based on environmental sustainability, wellbeing, transport connections, safety and landscape.
A net zero carbon target has been set for the project with a high-performance building fabric and a site wide “ambient loop” heat network, reducing the carbon emissions from heating and other services by nearly 50% compared to Part L (2013). This combined with renewable energy generated on site will lead to further reduction in emissions. A 40% reduction in embodied carbon over typical residential development is targeted. All of these measures combined with post-completion monitoring of overall energy use will enable the scheme to set the standard for low carbon retirement developments. The design team has had to consider the whole-building-life-cycle to make sure that both the operational and embodied carbon are taken into account, which means not burning fossil fuels and being very selective about where building materials come from.
Located on a brownfield site that sits within the Greenbelt, the development responds to a local need for extra-care housing, and achieves an optimum number of units needed to prevent urban sprawl, but balances this with large landscaped areas. The characterful nature of the Tudor town has been interpreted for Boughton Heath through a series of pitched roofs and a central clock tower that acts as a beacon for this new community set amongst the surrounding trees.
Communal facilities and shared spaces will be organised around a central pedestrianised ‘avenue’ and a community square, helping to ensure that the residents remain fit, healthy and socially active, whilst also encouraging connections to the wider community. The site, adjacent to a park & ride, and local transport links, will be connected to a nearby canal foot/cycle path. Together with the onsite mobility hub which will be open to all, the development encourages a car-free alternative route into the heart of Chester.
This is a vanguard project for Retirement Villages Group that seeks to greatly improve the quality and choice of homes for older people in the area. The projects’ ambitions regarding design quality, sustainability, health & wellbeing, biodiversity and placemaking far exceed any standards set by planning policy. If approved, this project will set a benchmark for developments in the region and the retirement sector. Furthermore, it will demonstrate that, through meaningful collaboration with local stakeholders, high quality designs can be developed that bring multiple benefits to local communities.
Housing Design Awards 2021 Winner
Holly Le Var