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RNIB Countryside Royal Hill Park, Redhill

By George Spreckley

Royal Hill Park is a joint venture between the developer, Countryside, and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB). Surrounded by open landscape of the North Downs in Redhill, Surrey, the 16-acre Green Belt site was formerly a college owned by the RNIB that was no longer fit for purpose. The RNIB wished to rationalise their accommodation within a smallerpart of the site, using the sale of 72 new private homes to fund the development of specialised accommodation for up to 50RNIB residents.

The site was not allocated for housing although, having been the site of the college, was partly developed. The key to gaining planning permission for housing was quality and sensitive design.

A sensory trail winds through the site to assist wayfinding while creating a rich sensory experience for visually impaired and sighted residents alike. The challenging topography of the site has resulted in a design that follows the cascade and rise of the landscape. Incorporated into the site is a fully restored and converted Grade II listed Tudor house that forms a community hub comprising offices, training, café and multi-purpose facilities. Brickwork detailing on the new units reflect that of the historic house.

Chosen to complement the contemporary architecture approach to the overall design were two bricks from Forterra’s Ecostock range. Cathedral Cream, used on the majority of the properties, offered the desired contrast between the building and the windows and doors. The colour provides a good canvas for other elements of the design intent. Oakthorpe Red Multi was used as a “backing” brick in the diaper panels.

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