This case study exemplify one or more of the Principles of Excellence that was identified during the research and engagement work of the Commission on the Role of housing in the future of care and support.
Model of housing or service: housing with support
Introduction and overview
Developed by Central Bedfordshire Council, Priory View in Dunstable comprises 83 one- and two-bedroom apartments for residents aged 55+. The development aims to reduce loneliness and isolation and offers both renting and shared-ownership options. The purpose-built building encourages independent living, with residents having their own apartment and their own front door key. Residents also benefit from the availability of 24-hour on-site flexible care services. Each resident is individually assessed with their income, social interaction, wellbeing and how their lifestyle can be improved all being considered. There is also a focus on achieving the right balance of privacy and independent living along with the support that is needed.
All the flats include a large entrance hall, living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom all in accordance with the principle of Lifetime Homes. Each flat entrance has a traditional front door, painted individual colours. The kitchen window of each flat looks onto the corridors, known as ‘streets’, encouraging interaction between residents and staff. Each floor is colour coded to aid navigation. The flats have a private outdoor space, either a patio at ground floor or balconies on upper levels. In accordance with Design for Dementia, all corridors end in an area where is it possible to sit or perhaps read, with views looking outside.
Improving outcomes by encouraging community connectedness
Priory View is more than alternative accommodation that an older person has to ‘accept’ because their home is no longer suitable for them. The hope is that it will be a place to celebrate life. The facilities and layout are designed to build a sense of community and friendship between the residents with a combination of private and communal spaces. Residents are able to live their life as they would anywhere else in the community but with the benefit of knowing that support is available if needed.
Everything is easier. My whole life seems to be less stressful.
Priory View is located within walking distance of Dunstable town centre with a large supermarket and guided bus stop close by. Accommodation is split over a number of floors, varying between three and five storeys with all the communal accommodation located at the heart of the building. As well as the 83 apartments, the scheme includes five recreational lounges, a café/bar and restaurant, guest suites for residents’ visitors, an electric car charging point, hair and nail unisex salon, foot clinic, rooftop garden and spa therapy rooms. By including public spaces and function rooms to hire, the council hopes to create a thriving community in Priory View with local clubs and people who live and work nearby welcome to use the facilities.
To me it’s like Priory View has brought people together.
Improving outcomes through innovative council planning
Completed in 2015, Priory View is part of a wider housing plan, covering 2015-2035, which has been devised by Central Bedfordshire Council to address the housing requirements of its older population. The qualitative research sample was selected to be a representative cohort of residents over the age of 55 years across all housing and tenure types. Six hundred short and 80 in-depth surveys were carried out along with focus groups with stakeholder organisations. The evidence gathered has fed into the production of an investment prospectus which sets out the Council’s vision for housing for older people and invites investment to deliver housing solutions. Rather than a traditional market position statement, the prospectus was produced to provide a more attractive and engaging approach to stimulating the housing market.
Secure the best quality of life we can for our older residents both now and in the future. This means delivering a range of accommodation that enables older people to live fulfilling lives and enjoy good health in attractive homes that meet their needs and allow them to retain their independence as they age.
The investment prospectus, based on evidence of housing need and this vision, sets out clearly the Council’s market shaping and housing delivery objectives in the form of development opportunities. As well as addressing housing need, architects and developers are encouraged to create dementia-friendly housing that helps people living with dementia to orientate themselves and live more independently.
You can find out more about Central Bedfordshire Council’s approach to planning in this case study.
The Council has led by example in developing Priory View, one of the first developments to be undertaken by Central Bedfordshire Council in 40 years, and its first independent living scheme. As well as addressing the housing needs and desires of over 55s in the locality, the scheme has been built on a brown field site and aims to reuse the existing utility infrastructure, and continue to support existing local services.
The building maximises natural light throughout the building and exploits views from upper storeys across the nearby Downs. It has been designed to be energy efficient and encourages biodiversity by maintaining existing trees and planting where possible and planting native species in new spaces. For more information on environmental factors see Housing LIN.
Priory View was awarded ‘Best Independent Living Scheme’ in the Pinders Healthcare Design Awards, 2017, winner of ‘Best Social or Affordable New Housing Development’ at the LABC Building Excellence Awards 2017 and was shortlisted as a finalist for the Top 60 Housing Development Awards 2016, Best Residential Building at the Bedfordshire Association of Architects design awards.
Conclusions and key learning
Priory View has been selected by the Commission as it highlights the role that local councils can play in the planning and development of housing for older people. By investing time and energy into researching the housing needs of the area, the Council was able to draw up a plan for the period 2015-2035. The evidence base, coupled with the Council leading by example in developing Priory View, can help future investors to feel more confident about becoming involved. It also helps to ensure that the houses being built are meeting the needs of the local people.
With its strong focus on encouraging and developing community connectedness, Priory View can also provide services to the local community and help reduce the loneliness and isolation that residents may be susceptible to.
We don’t want to create an institution, we want to create a thriving community.