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20 ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BLIND PEOPLE’S (RNIB) REDHILL SITE, SURREY


This range of prior uses meant that the existing buildings were never really fit for purpose, and as such, the service the RNIB could offer there was gradually dwindling. The charity didn’t have the funds to make the changes necessary to these old and dilapidated buildings, so in order to ensure it retained its presence in Redhill, it started looking for a partner that would build enabling development. This was to be Countryside Properties, who would then cross-fund the developments of the RNIB’s residential accommodation.


Planning


Though the scheme had an initial level of support from the local councils in principle, gaining planning for the scheme was not altogether an easy process. The project being part of the Green Belt was no small part of this, and the fact the location spans two council districts, Reigate and Banstead, and Tandridge District Council, provided further challenges.


“It was quite a long process,” says Manoher Matharu, director at Gardner Stewart Architects, “in order to get to a level of development that the local authori- ties were happy with in terms of the balance of harm on the green belt, but I think we ended up with a good result for everybody.” “The councils took into account the fact that it is very much a landscape-led devel- opment, within the Green Belt limits in terms of its design and layout, while meeting Countryside and RNIB’s require- ments in terms of the quantum and size of development that was necessary.” The local community was reportedly equally satisfied with the plans, following public consultations held early on in the process. The vast majority agreed that space was previously inaccessible, whereas the new development will provide a landscaped trail “that people can actually walk through and experience.”


Having two councils to deal with inevitably presented challenges to gaining a consensus, with two applications to submit, two sets of committee members to please, and so on. “The project did of course go through however,” adds Manoher. The only buildings that have remained in the masterplan are a Grade II listed farmhouse structure called Tudor House – which was the main building from the early days of the site – and an outbuilding once called the Garden Cottage. Now, the Tudor House building has been designated as the “community hub,” which will include offices for the RNIB and a multipurpose


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK ADF JUNE 2019


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