Former St Thomas’s Hospital

  • Client Stockport Homes
  • Location Shaw Heath
  • Services Ecology, Landscape Architecture, Biodiversity Net Gain
  • Sector Residential

The former St Thomas’s Hospital which has been closed for nearly 20 years is famous for treating thousands of psychiatric patients. Dating back to 1841, St. Thomas’ was a workhouse known as ‘The Grubber’ which accommodated nearly 700 inmates and cumulated in it be one of the most haunted buildings in the North West. The site has been secured and unoccupied for over 10 years.

Stockport Homes is set to redevelop the hospital into an all-age 70-bed residential care facility known as Academy of Living Well, along with 68 affordable homes.  This will see 35-apartments contained within three Grade II listed buildings on the site with the remaining two buildings set to contain 19-apartments and the remaining 13 affordable homes to be new-build townhouses. 

There are eight buildings on the site. Three will be demolished, three will be retained and refurbished, and two will be partially knocked down with their facades retained. 

Credit: PRP Architects

Stockport Homes appointed Urban Green to deliver Ecology, Landscape Architecture, BREEAM and Biodiversity Net Gain services, working closely with PRP Architects and NJL Consulting.

The landscape design aims to create a series of interlinked high quality external spaces that incorporate pedestrian links, communal activity opportunities, and a welcoming and
biodiverse environment that reflects and responds to the historical context and surroundings of the imposing and characterful form of the former hospital site. This contributes to the character of the area through the creation of species rich, attractive and usable spaces, which offer residents, visitors and the wider community an engaging and cohesive green aesthetic to the development.

Utilising the historic footprints of the former workhouse/hospital, the new build elements frames the central green spaces. This arrangement of space also allows for the symmetry
of the historic architecture to be referenced through the landscape design, greatly enhancing the look and feel of the retained listed buildings, and making reference to the
strong workhouse layout. Within the secure boundary of the site, the new external spaces comprises a mix of resident only communal areas, key pedestrian circulation routes, and semi-private yard areas – affording the new houses with their own external space to take ownership of.

A new pedestrianised public realm route will activate the residentail development of the former hospital site and the new academy building and act as a destination for the new residents, along with the community of the surrounding area. Opportunities for ground floor cafes and restaurants within the academy will allow for active frontages with tables and chairs to animate the public realm space which through it’s use of high quality surfacing materials, clusters of seasonally diverse tree species, and street furniture, will have an attractive and inviting look and feel.

Throughout the entire scheme, a palette of carefully selected materials, soft landscaping mixes, and street furniture, will provide a recognisable cohesion and identity to the
development. The use of sustainable methods for surface water collection will also be incorporated, with permeable paving used across the site, and rain gardens adding additional biodiversity interest, as well as seasonal textures and colours.

An ecological appraisal was undertaken to assess the habitats and their suitability for use by protected and notable species across the site. Furthermore, site supervision under a European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) and a BREEAM Ecological Appraisal. A Biodiversity Net Gain calculation were undertaken and provided an early indication of the biodiversity net loss or gain on the site as a result of the development at the masterplan stage.

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