Housing Development in the U.K. to Include Supported-Living Facilities for People with Vision Loss

Date Posted: 09/16/2015

As the population continues to expand and more housing complexes are erected, it is common, especially in urban areas, for developers to include low-income housing as part of their schemes. In a southeastern suburb of London, a residential development plans to integrate community housing for people who have visual impairments with homes for private sale. The result of a collaboration between the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Countryside Properties, a property-development company based in Essex that specializes in "urban regeneration," the housing development is expected to "set a new standard for supported living."

"The Redhill development is the first time a charity has worked with a private developer to create an integrated, inclusive community and we're very excited to be working with Countryside on this project," said Karen Deacon, RNIB's director of education and care. "Our priority at RNIB is to provide high quality facilities which allow blind and partially sighted people to live independent lives."

The new development will be built on a 17-acre site that currently houses RNIB Redhill, part of the organization's Community Living Service, which provides 24-hour residential care and supported-living accommodations for adults aged 18 to 65 years with visual impairments and additional disabilities. Designed by London-based Gardner Stewart Architects, the 102-dwelling development will include a mix of 6 houses and 19 apartments for the Community Living Service, the remainder will be 77 3-, 4-, and 5-bedroom private homes. Created in accordance with what the architectural firm has described as "sensory design principles," the development will feature a new "community hub" facility. Built within a restored and converted historical house from the Tudor period, the community hub will include offices, training rooms, a cafe, and multipurpose facilities. The outdoor environment of the development will include a sensory walking trail that will use natural landscaping to replace traditional wayfinding tools such as handrails. In addition, it will feature a sensory garden based on the gold medal–winning RNIB-Countryside "Mind's Eye Garden" entry to the Royal Horticultural Society's 2014 Chelsea Flower Show.

The housing scheme is still in the development process. It has been granted planning consent by the U.K. Planning Advisory Service (PAS), Local Government Association, but it is subject to additional PAS approval before the project can commence. No information related to the completion date of the housing development was available. For more information, contact: Community Living Service, Royal National Institute of Blind People, Queens House, Philanthropic Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 4DG, United Kingdom; e-mail: clsredhill@rnib.org.uk; phone: +01737-76-89-35; website: www.rnib.org.uk/services-we-offer/supported-living. Gardner Stewart Architects, 176 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8ET, United Kingdom; phone: +020-7620-6255; e-mail: info@gsa-studios.com; website: http://gsa-studios.com/portfolio/project/rnib-redhill. [Information for this piece came from the September 10, 2015, 24dash.com article, "RNIB and Countryside set new standard for supported living," by Rebecca McAdam.]

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