When the Brentry Hospital closed in 2000, the five-acre site stood empty for 15 years until we acquired it from NHS Property Services along with Phoenix House, an impressive late-Victorian building which formed part of the original hospital complex.
Working in partnership with Knightstone Housing, we transformed the vacant site into an attractive ‘garden village’ which brought 79 much-needed new homes to the area. Knightstone were impressed by our track record in regeneration and our commitment to leaving a lasting legacy in the areas where we work.
We offered 64 of the new homes for open market sale while 15 were for social rent and shared ownership through Knightstone. These were pepper-potted throughout Repton Grange to create a tenure-blind development.
With the site located in a conservation area, we carefully restored and converted Phoenix House into four individually designed apartments, retaining its Victorian roots while offering modern styling and layouts which worked for contemporary living.
The development was one of our fastest-selling sites in 2015, appealing to first-time buyers, families and young professionals attracted by the site’s location just five miles from central Bristol and close to historic Royal Victoria Park and the motorway network.
In May 2015, more than 70 people attended the launch of our sales and marketing suite and the unveiling of our two three-bedroom showhomes, with three properties sold within hours of opening.
By the following June 90% of homes at the development – everything that had been released for sale by that point – had been sold, with many selling as soon as they became available. Seventy-five of the homes were bought by first-time buyers.
We wanted to involve the local community from the outset to ensure we created a scheme that met their needs. Early on in the programme, we held daytime and evening events to inform them about our plans and used external boards to inform people daily about changes and updates, along with hand-delivered letters and regular newsletters.
At Repton Grange, we employed a number of apprentices including electricians, plumbers and carpenters, supporting them in developing their careers. All of our subcontractors are also committed to providing apprentices with work experience and mentoring.
We got involved with local schools and colleges to discuss initiatives, training opportunities and site visits where they can become involved. We also accepted a number of students on year-out work placements to help them complete their degrees. Many have since returned to us for a permanent job.
Working with the CITB’s Inspire scheme, we awarded three scholarships to university students to help them launch a career in construction. The scheme gives them each £2,000 towards their university fees along with a paid work experience placement.
We used our segregated skip system to reduce and recycle our construction waste, allowing us to divert 92% from landfill. We also chose materials with minimal environmental impact, so for example, all timber used on-site was certified from a Forest Stewardship Council-approved source.
The development lies at the northern edge of the Brentry Conservation Area in Bristol, fringed by woodland, parkland and in a secluded location. Much of the northern boundary of the conservation area is stone walling, which we renovated, while the south is bounded by the Royal Victoria Park, a grade II historic park and garden.
The site presented a number of ecological issues which we had to address carefully, including creating an embankment to the south of the site, moving slowworms and protecting trees during the construction phase.
As part of the scheme, we created a dedicated area for wildlife, sowing native wildflower and grass seed and establishing green corridors to the northern and eastern edges of the site. We kept the areas around Phoenix House natural to link with the neighbouring parkland.
The layout has been designed to create a ‘walkable’ neighbourhood, with footpaths and cycle routes linking with local services and facilities, nearby residential areas and parkland.
Significant areas of landscaping, tree belts and stone walling surround the development and are managed by the resident management company, ensuring the site is unobtrusive and remains in harmony with its natural surroundings and existing buildings.
We also commissioned a resident travel plan, giving advice on public transport, cycle and footpath links, and shared this with residents at Repton Grange.