This development was the first of its kind in the UK; a building designed to stimulate residents and delay the onset of dementia, influenced by the thought-leadership of Dr. Hans Becker, a renowned retirement industry expert. The Tree Top Village development was built on a greenfield site and separated into two phases, which ran concurrently throughout the build. Phase one provided 75 one and two bedroom affordable apartments and phase two provided a further 36 one and two bedroom Tyneside apartments, along with eight bungalows and complementary site landscaping.
The development is part of Newcastle City Council’s Older People’s Housing Delivery Plan to provide a range of affordable housing options for older people. The project was funded by Newcastle City Council, alongside a £2.3m contribution from the Homes and Communities Agency.
The new development is specifically for people aged over 55 and as well as new homes, the scheme provides a range of amenities designed to help residents enjoy a vibrant lifestyle. Communal facilities include a wellness suite, shop, library, café, internet hub and hairdresser, all of which will be open to local people and will help to link the development to the surrounding community. A multi-purpose room for GPs and other medical professionals to use is also integrated into the design. Externally, patio areas and sensory gardens promote health and wellbeing and provide a link between the scheme
The scheme design balances efficiency, flexibility and practicality and is Lifetime Homes and Wheelchair Design Guide compliant. Each apartment overlooks the main thoroughfare, reinforcing the community feel whilst retaining resident privacy. All apartments are light and airy, with excellent space standards and modern fixtures and fittings. The sub-structure consisted of a piled foundation solution with beam and block flooring to the ground floor, with a traditional masonry super-structure incorporating attractive rainscreen cladding. The main entrance to the building was designed with a full height four-storey glazed atrium and roof lights into the main hallways, creating a contemporary ‘hotel’ feel, again in line with the Becker design ethos.
Challenges and solutions
Partnership working was crucial to the success of the scheme. The Wates team liaised closely with Aldi, who were building a new supermarket adjacent to the retirement village. Store and site deliveries were co-ordinated to prevent disruption to the local community and the scheme design incorporates a covered walkway between the new homes and the supermarket, providing a cohesive link to the local community.
As part of the competitive tender process, the Wates Residential team made a wide range of commitments against social, employment and skills outputs. Throughout the two year period of delivery we have met or exceeded these targets for benefit of local people and the surrounding community, including:
- 14 – local people have benefited from employment and training initiatives
- 1,935 – training / employment weeks have been created for local people
- 5,805 – hours have been invested in supporting these people by Wates staff
- £464,199 – value of our investment in training local people
- 86 – students supported by our education activities and programmes
- £1,904 – invested into supporting education
- 50 – hours invested into volunteering in the community by Wates staff
- £2,700 – invested into local charities / community causes