Bruyns Court, Thurrock - Housing Development
Bruyns Court is an exciting step towards creating the next generation of homes for older people in Thurrock and is at the heart of the South Ockendon community."
Lynn Worrall | Local Ward Councillor
Over the next 25 years, Thurrock is expecting to see a significant ageing of the local population, with the number of over 65’s in the area increasing by 71% and over 85’s increasing by 141%.
With this in mind, Thurrock Council developed plans to create quality housing for over-55s, comprising 25 energy efficient flats, that would transform the current social housing offer to older residents and promote independence at home. Using a more holistic approach to meet housing, health and social care needs, the facility also features a secure shared garden and other social spaces that can be used for social gatherings, or just somewhere to sit and talk with friends.
Procured through our National Major Works framework - since superseded by Major Works England and Northern Ireland, part of our National Construction framework - Willmott Dixon were selected to deliver Thurrock Council’s first retirement homes in 30 years.
It was one of only 46 projects to receive a 2016 RIBA National Award and was also declared 'Best Social or Affordable New Housing Development’ at the LABC’s Building Excellence Awards 2016.
To deliver within a challenging funding envelope: through careful value management and close design and specification control, the project was delivered within the original feasibility cost proposal.
To deliver a set funding gateway: the funding deadline meant that we had just 16 weeks to complete the design, market test, enter into contract and start on site; which was achieved.
To achieve innovative design standards: the apartments were designed and built to HAPPI (Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation) standards, which ensures generous amounts of space, good levels of light and outside space that fosters social interaction and a sense of community. For those with mobility issues or disabilities, the wide glass walkways connecting the buildings and open communal spaces make the complex accessible and enjoyable for all. Of the 25 flats, one was custom built for a disabled tenant, and all have a dementia-friendly layout with a flexible internal design that can adapt as tenants' needs change.
Keeping the community moving: building the external elevations involved removing the public highway and obstructing local traffic routes. Working with our supply chain partners and the local authority, we managed to complete this with no disruption to local residents.
New parking: the new development was built on a former car park, so some local residents were unhappy at the loss of car parking space. Wilmott Dixon worked with the community with regular invitations to the site office where the build and logistics were explained. As a result, residents gained a sense of ownership and became part of the solution.
Social value creation
Local supply chain: across all of our frameworks, we encourage our partners to employ a local supply chain on every project, and during the completion of Bruyns Court 100% of the subcontractors were local Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Community project: the site team took personal time out to clear nearby overgrown green areas and build new planters for and with local residents.
Prince’s Trust: we engaged 2 Prince’s Trust apprentice groups, who supported the site team and attended mock interviews at a local college to help boost employability and confidence with students.
Supporting young people: alongside 19 apprentices we facilitated 31 work experience placements - from this, 51% gained employment and a further 25% went on to further training, education or voluntary work.
Employment support: we supported a local agency worker, enabling him to attend an English language course and to gain a dumper truck licence. As a result he is now full-time employed by Willmott Dixon's groundwork supply chain partner.
Value for money
We worked with the client’s QS in a collaborative open book environment to demonstrate value for money at all stages.
- Through early supply chain engagement, the client saved £816,000 by being provided with alternative quality, design and procurement solutions with lower costs. We also ensured buildability and supply chain ideas were built into the design early to deliver a robust solution in line with the client's budget. This helped keep the project on programme at all times.
- Recycling materials on‑site saved the client £31,000 - using tarmac from the old car park as a surface for the piling rig.
- The sustainable design included photovoltaic panels and innovative material solutions to provide high levels of insulation to protect the buildings from overheating, which reduced annual energy costs by 19%.
Work experience placements
Waste diverted from landfill
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