The Blackberry Hill hospital site comprises a closed NHS hospital, which was converted from a Victorian workhouse built in 1860, which itself incorporated surviving buildings from an early 19th century prisoner of war camp that replaced a now demolished 18th century prisoner of war camp and manor house. This included such structures as a former guard house and prison block from the early 19th century, workhouse accommodation and a chapel from the Victorian period, and boiler houses and a café from the modern NHS use. The central building was protected as a Grade II listed building, with many more qualifying as curtilage listed, all of which were contained within a conservation area. Therefore, particularly in heritage terms, the site presented a series of unique challenges and opportunities.
EDP provided heritage consultancy advice. This included undertaking historic building analysis to carefully analyse the fabric of the standing structures, as well as to research their documented history through written sources, aerial photographs and maps. Through this, the heritage significance of each building was identified, as well as that of the group as a whole, to help guide the masterplanning process and provide advice on the selection and retention of buildings. This also included advice regarding what elements of the retained buildings had historic or architectural value, and which represented later, less significant aspects – this fed into the internal layout designs for the conversions. These aspects required extensive consultation with the council’s specialist advisors.
EDP also provided advice on the design and layout of the new builds in the wider site, as these required careful consideration, due to the site’s location within a conservation area and within the setting of several listed and curtilage listed buildings.
The scope of work extended to identifying the potential of the site to contain hitherto unrecorded archaeological remains, particularly regarding the previously demolished 18th century structures. This analysis involved extensive documentary research, including a review of a 19th century American privateers written account of their experience as an inmate of the prison.
Other than heritage advice, EDP also provided specialist landscape impact, landscape design, ecology and arboricultural services. This included species surveys, landscape impact assessments, hard and soft landscaping plans, and arboricultural impact assessments.
The site was successfully granted planning permission in 2017. EDP is now in the process of designing and implementing historic building recording, archaeological investigations, bat mitigation and detailed landscape drawings, amongst other tasks.
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