The former Wispers School on the northern edge of c is being refurbished and redeveloped into a care home and independent living accommodation.
The project lead by RMH (Wispers) Care LLP comprises the extension and alteration of existing buildings and erection of replacement buildings with associated car parking.
The main building on the site was Oak Hall, a substantial building constructed in 1910. There was also various extensions and other school buildings to be dealt with on the project, including a large gym building, modern extensions to the north east of Oak Hall, a large detached single storey building, two large prefabricated classrooms and various sheds and outbuildings around the main Hall.
Also on the site was Willow House, a detached two-storey building which formerly comprised the sixth form block and a small bungalow.
Land around the site includes Weydown Common, which is owned by National Trust.
RMH (Wispers) Care LLP acquired the property in 2008, achieved planning consent in 2010 and began construction in May 2011. The project was completed in September 2012 and in October 2012, the first residents moved in.
The proposal involved a variety of construction projects within it. They included the refurbishment of Oak Hall, a three-storey extension to the Hall to provide communal facilities for the care community, and new-build supported living units.
There has been a total of 112 independent living and close care units created within the existing building and additional buildings, consisting of single and double-bedroom accommodation.
The main contractor was Galliford Try and their architect was Accord Architects, from Guildford. The interior designer was Etre, from Winchester. The total development cost was approximately £20 million.
Drew Wrintmore from RMH (Wispers) Care LLP said:
“The original buildings were an existing girl’s school. The project involved the demolition of some older buildings, the refurbishment of a Grade II listed building and further new builds to create a retirement village with 58 independent living units, a 54 bedroom care home and a country club.
“We had to keep within the strict requirements of a listed building but that brought an interesting aspect to the project.
“The bulk of the new build construction is timber framed, while the cladding and care home extension are a mixture of glazing and brick facade. The other buildings are a mixture of cedar cladding, render and brick.”
The project was a joint venture between RMH (Wispers) Care LLP, Nicolas Roach – owner of Harbour Hotels Group – and Marcol Ltd – a large London based property company.
In addition to the main building works there have been other site improvements, such as the creation of a car park, cycle storage, electric buggy parking and bin store. There has also been some landscaping including additional tree planting and the creation of a wildlife pond.
“Recently we have finished the new Radisson hotel in Guilford which is a £75 million development. This is the second of the care villages in our group, the first of which was in Torquay, so we have been able to build on that experience for this project.
“The vision has always been that it would have a very high quality of finishes throughout. It was a redundant old school and a real mixture of old buildings – like a lot of old college campuses they don’t have a master plan design but they add buildings as they get funding so its effectively a smorgasbord of varying materials and design merit.
“We’ve been able to co-ordinate a scheme that benefits the care community and the retirement community, which we’re really pleased about.”
MTE (Leicester) Ltd
Established in 1994, MTE (Leicester) Ltd are timber framed structure specialists who use farmed wood from renewable resources. They can supply any type of timber framed system to any specification.
Offering a professional, friendly and reliable service they help clients build longer lasting environmentally friendly homes and structures that are quicker to construct, cost less to maintain and are kinder to the planet.
Kirk Eversfield from MTE (Leicester) Ltd said:
“As well as working for Galliford Try on this project we’ve worked on many other projects. We work with the leading national builders and developers nationwide including companies like Leadbitter, Denne Construction, ISG and Jarvis. We work with a lot of major developers as well as small and medium sized businesses- right down to individual private clients who want a one-off design.
“On Oak Hall Care Home we had a £1 million contract with Galliford Try to design, manufacture and erect the timber frame super structure. All components including wall panels and floor and roof cassettes were manufactured off site at our Leicester HQ, delivered and then erected on site within the program timescales given.
“It was one of our first significant sized projects with Galliford Try. There were three different types of buildings so it was quite challenging in terms of design, engineering and technicality. We viewed it as flagship project by virtue of the size of the build.”