Former St Christopher’s site to become retirement community
Grade-II listed Grace House will retained and may become a communal facility
THE grounds of the former St Christopher’s School at Westbury Park have been sold.
The new owners of the five- acre site which faces the Downs are a Joint Venture Partnership between Amicala (extra care housing providers) and FORE (ethical investment company). The proposal is to build a community for people in their early retirement but otherwise active. The project is being delivered by developers First Base.
The site comprises around 93,000 sq ft of buildings, including the Grade-II listed Grace House. Investment of up to £80 million is proposed for the first of a new generation of ultra-sustainable later living developments.
The Westbury Park Community Association (WPCA) believes the sale of the former St Christopher’s School site brings fresh hope of blending development and community aims.
“We regard the sale of the site by Aurora to a joint venture partnership as very good news,” says the Association’s planning adviser Jeff Bishop.
“Our focus is now to identify the hopes and concerns of immediate neighbours and the wider community, and to work closely with the developers to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.”
The process got off to a positive start with a site meeting on May 26 when Henry Lumby, chief development officer of care providers Amicala, told the WPCA that they want their developments to be seen as an extension of the local community.
Amicala’s proposed development in Westbury Park, in conjunction with their partners FORE Partnership, would not be a care home or gated community but an extra care community which supports residents as their needs change over time, allowing them to maintain their independence, he said.
Mr Lumby was joined at the meeting by Liam Ronan-Chlond, head of engagement and social value for developers First Base, and other colleagues.
Provisional concepts for the potential redevelopment of the site, explained to the WPCA, include:
• Conversion of the lodges on Westbury Park (facing the Downs) to apartments, retaining trees and gardens at the front
• New apartments and houses to the rear of the lodges and on part of the back land
• The retention of Grace House which will be used to house communal facilities
• The possible retention and use of other buildings on the back land – also for communal facilities.
Amicala hope to complete the development in 2024. Stages along the way would include the drafting of a masterplan by autumn 2021 leading to a full planning application to Bristol City Council at the end of this year.
One idea voiced at the meeting was to have an open event or two at St Christopher’s, giving people an opportunity to look around the extensive site and share views and ideas about the emerging overall proposals.
“Currently much of the site is not visible or accessible from outside,” added Jeff Bishop.
“It would be very helpful now to give people an opportunity to look around and learn more about the proposed development and help spread the word.
“And around the same time the developers, with advice from the WPCA, will be asking all Community Association members and other residents in the area for their views on the plans as well as involving other local interest groups.”