17 Craven Road, Reading

Posted on Thursday, April 14, 2016

Working with a consortium of local Doctors with the support of NHS England, The Flatman Partnership have project managed the design and planning of a proposed GP chambers and Healthcare Centre on Craven Road in Reading. Opposite the entrance to Royal Berkshire Hospital, this new cutting edge facility will provide much needed GP services to area, as well as a ‘one stop shop’ of other related services.

In May 2012 The Flatman Partnership was asked to advise on the acquisition of No 17 Craven Road on behalf of a partnership of two local doctors’ GP practices, operating out of four surgeries, with a view to redeveloping the site to provide a new GP Chambers facility, Healthcare centre and consulting rooms.

This was undertaken in the backdrop of increasing difficulties faced by GPs, operating small patient lists from increasingly outdated premises many of which were originally designed residential use. Poor quality premises are deemed to be a contributing factor to General Practice being unattractive to newly qualified doctors and nurses.

The Craven Road site itself extends to 0.22Ha and the Listed Portland Stone building on the site has some interesting history. Originally built in 1840 on the junction of Queens Road and London Road in Gothic style, it was later moved stone by stone under to the watchful eye of architect Joshua Greenaway (Snr) around 1878, to where it now stands on Craven Road.

The house was acquired in 1919 by Reading School for use as the Headmasters Lodge and subsequently sold to the Royal Berkshire Hospitals Trust in late 1997. The Listed building has been empty for some years and is as a result is suffering a severe attack of Dry Rot throughout its core and roof.

Urgent renovation is essential to preserve the building for future generations and remediation will be undertaken during works to convert this Heritage Asset into Consulting Room.

The new GP Chambers and Healthcare facility are proposed in the extensive grounds of the Listed Building. By combining the two practices (with space for a third) there are considerable efficiencies both in operational practices and space requirements whilst also enabling delivery of a wider range of Primary Care based services and the potential for growth to meet local needs. The new facility will also meet its obligation to the RBH Trust to work in line with its own aims and objectives as part of the NHS family.

Many factors had to be considered in the design of the scheme. Landscape, Ecology and Biodiversity, Form and Scale, Traffic Generation, Parking and Disabled Access, Arboriculture, Heritage and Environmental Sustainability and Impact on Neighbours, as well as pre-application discussion with Reading Borough Council and observation of historic Covenants imposed by Reading School. After numerous feasibility assessments, the current scheme evolved from the highly competent offices of QP Architecture in Christchurch Dorset, who specialise solely in Healthcare facility design.

Prior to final submission, the scheme was appraised for its financial viability by the District Valuers office on behalf of NHS England who have approved the Business Case and NHS funds have been awarded to progress the project.

As currently submitted the building is ‘T’ shaped in design with a Gross Internal Area of 1,248 square metres (13,433 square feet) over 4 storey’s including a lower ground floor which is mainly under-croft parking and just three consulting rooms, a ground floor with a 24/7 Pharmacy, three Phlebotomy/Triage rooms, eight consulting rooms and an extensive waiting area.

There is lift access throughout the building and on the third floor further consulting rooms, minor operations, treatment and recovery facilities. The top floor of the building is essentially dedicated to Plant, Welfare and Administration.

Outside there will be a mix of secure parking dedicated to users of the facility only, interspersed with a landscape plan designed to enhance the setting of the listed building. In all, there will be 50 Parking spaces, five Disabled spaces and a drop off point.

The Planning Office is hoping to be able to determine the application later this month and the whole team, Project Managed by The Flatman Partnership are looking forward to moving towards making preparations for Construction.

Although the whole team has worked extremely hard over the last four years, it has to be said that Dr Gerard D’Cruz’s untiring enthusiasm and relentless optimism to see this facility delivered has helped see us all through the darker, more frustrating days of delivering any project like this to fruition.

The documents relating to 17 Craven Road are now available to view online.