Celebrating the approval of two major developments in the green belt by a single local authority

Healthcare Rushcliffe, Nottingham, NG2

TWO landmark dementia care facilities located within the Green Belt, which constitute “inappropriate development” unless very special circumstances can be identified, have received planning permission after neither application was “called in” by the Secretary of State.

The team at leading planning consultants GraceMachin Planning & Property are applauding the decision after putting forward a strong case which identified the “very special circumstances” that fully justified why the two Nottingham schemes, designed by Leonard Design Architects and owned by Church Farm Care Ltd, must go ahead.

To secure planning permission for two “inappropriate developments” within 12 months of one another is significant as both are just over five miles apart and fall within Rushcliffe Borough Council. The Church Farm at Rusticus site has received planning permission and Church Farm at Skylarks is awaiting its formal decision notice following the completion of a Section 106 agreement.

Grace Machin Planning & Property clearly identified six “very special circumstances” which attested to the value and importance of both applications. They were; the undeniable UK requirement for specialised dementia accommodation, the innovative facilities and extremely high-stand of care being created, the scheme’s sensitivity to the environment and the ideal nature of the currently underutilised location, the employment and training opportunities, the flood risk factors that the design addresses and solves, and the intelligent application of architecture.

Nick Grace, partner at GraceMachin Planning & Property, said: “This rare pair of planning decisions speak not only to the work of our team, but to the strength of the design, as well as the quality and reputation of Church Farm Care. This was a true collaboration; without any of the three elements, I don’t think we would have achieved such a positive result in such a short space of time.

“For us, the special circumstances were clear as both Skylarks and Rusticus offer so much to the community as well as promising a high quality of care to those with dementia. The design is also very sympathetic to the environment and has even reduced long-standing flood risks. This decision by the local council is a win not only for us and Church Farm Care but everyone in Nottingham as these are truly landmark schemes.”

Both Skylarks and Rusticus utilise clever architecture to promote independence, comfort, and quality of life for residents as well as ensuring they remain an active part of the community. In addition to increased bedroom space, the designs include independent living pods for assisted living or carer respite.

Over 45 detailed supporting letters and e-mails were received by Rushcliffe Borough Council for Church Farm at Skylarks with particular recognition of its hydrotherapy pool. The pool is not only essential for residents, but a valuable facility for schools and community groups with one charity stating that the pool will drastically reduce its current two-hour round trip. The expansion also includes the provision of 32 new bedrooms, five detached assisted living pods, new access routes and landscaping.

The approved developments for Church Farm at Rusticus similarly focus on bringing the community into the centre to prevent residents becoming isolated. The scheme sees the addition of an onsite café that’s open to the public and features a snaking path which doubles as a walkthrough aviary. It is hoped this will encourage the community to visit alongside its onsite salon and cinema.

The approved application is for the fifth phase of Rusticus’ development following previous upgrades to the site including the reception and staff facilities, as well as the addition of balconies to the accommodation. This phase sees the addition of 30 new bedrooms and three detached two bed assisted living pods, plus further parking and landscaping.

"“This development of two innovative dementia care schemes in Nottingham is something that the city’s residents should be incredibly proud of and Rushcliffe Borough Council should be applauded for supporting the applications. Furthermore, an entirely Nottingham team, and one that shares my passion for delivering a higher standard of dementia care and facilities for the whole community, delivered this project which I’m equally thrilled about.”"

Patrick Atkinson, Owner of Church Farm Care Limited
Rudi Marecki (LDA), Patrick Atkinson (Church Farm Care), Becky Smith (LDA) and Nick Grace (Grace Machin)

Becky Smith, dementia design specialist at Leonard Design, added: “Our team shares Patrick’s belief that care facilities don’t have to be treated as purely clinical spaces, prioritising the practical over the personal. After looking at the Dutch approach to care home design, specifically seeing first-hand the pioneering Hogeweyk ‘dementia village’ in the Netherlands, we were determined to deliver the real health benefits of intelligent design to these two schemes in Nottingham.

“Church Farm Care has proved that when a project is designed sensitively and intelligently, it will be recognised by the community and local authority as being of real value and something worth standing behind.”

It is estimated that the number of people with dementia in the UK is forecast to increase to more than one million by 2025 and more than two million by 2051. Currently, the figures equal one in every 14 in the over 65 population.

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Established in June 2012 by Chartered Town Planners Nick Grace and George Machin, our portfolio of work covers a wide breadth and scale of development; from single houses or replacement dwellings to large scale, mixed use, residential and commercial sites.

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