Mill Gardens, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria

A 19 unit extra care facility built on the site of a former sheltered housing scheme.

Mill GardensHousing Association
Eden Housing Association

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Homes & Communities Agency, Cumbria County Council

Scheme outline
The original scheme was built in the 1970s and incorporated mainly bedsit accommodation. After assessing designs for a conversion of the current building, it was concluded that total redevelopment would provide the best option for a future proof older persons’ provision.

The new scheme was originally designed as a modern sheltered scheme with one and two bedroom apartments but the option to extend it to an Extra Care Scheme if additional funding became available.

Prior to submitting the Planning Application, Eden HA secured funding from Cumbria County Council to allow the scheme to be designed to Extra Care Standards without the need for future conversion. Mill Gardens consists of 16 x 2-bed apartments and 3 x 1-bed apartments.

The communal facilities and services provided include: Communal Lounge and kitchenette; Communal Dining Room; Shared Resources Room; Scooter Store; Laundry; Assisted Bathing; Lift; Support staff on site; Guest room/ staff sleepover; Communal gardens and patio area.

The new residents were able to choose their own apartment and had options such as French Doors opening out onto the gardens and Juliette balconies. Each flat is light and spacious with large windows looking out onto the fells, river or gardens. They have a wet room, wide doorways and storage cupboards to ensure adaptability where mobility aids are required.

Each tenant has a key fob to access the automatic doors within the building and, where required, a pendant alert in case of a fall or when help is required. The apartments are fitted with a call system and pull cords which are connected to the staff office during the day and a call centre out of hours.

A study carried out by Cumbria County Council (Extra Care Housing Event 10/11/15) identified that 41 extra care places were required in Kirkby Stephen by 2025. By providing 19 of these, this has reduced the current need to 22.

The Eden District Council and South Lakeland District Council Joint Older Persons’ Strategy 2012-2017 states that by 2035 the number of people aged 75-84 is projected to increase by 43% and those over 85 by 67%. Planning4Care research suggested a “norm” of 260 units of specialised accommodation per 1,000 people aged 75+.

The Joint Strategy suggests that from this information, 1,118 units of specialised accommodation is required in Eden by 2019. Income is also an issue with 45% of over 75’s in Eden having an income of less that £10,000 being reported in the Joint Strategy.

The Mill Gardens Extra Care Scheme addresses these issues by offering much needed older persons’ accommodation with the apartments let at an affordable social rent. All prospective tenants are assessed to ensure that they meet local occupancy requirements and have present support needs to benefit from the services offered.

Good practice
Mill Gardens Extra Care Scheme has been designed to Lifetime Homes Standards to ensure that the apartments can be adapted as the needs of the individual change: for example, the bathrooms of the two-bed apartments include two doors to allow a ceiling hoist to be fitted if a tenant needs to be transferred from bed to bathroom.

The HAPPI (Housing our Aging Population: Panel for Innovation) design guidelines have been followed to ensure the spaces offered were a desirable place to live. Eden HA consulted tenants throughout the design process and amended the designs from feedback received. This ranged from providing choices for kitchens and the communal furniture to moving the location of the communal lounge.

A number of tenants visited Eden’s newest Extra Care Scheme, Heysham Gardens, to get an idea of what was proposed with the redevelopment of Mill Gardens and for them to feed into design considerations.

£600K – Homes and Communities Agency
£250K – Cumbria County Council
£2.25M – Eden Housing Association

“The scheme is not about a building, it is about the residents and the choices it offers them.”
Henry Barker, Chairman Eden Housing Association

“Kirkby Stephen is a real community, and it has a much older population than the UK average. This makes the new Mill Gardens scheme even more important to the people who live here.”
Joan Johnstone, Parish Councillor