History is something we have a lot of as we get older, and one thing it teaches us is to take promising chances when they come along.
This historic Battle of Britain site is undergoing a substantial mixed residential, leisure, heritage and educational redevelopment. It presented an ideal opportunity for a later life development project and in Anchor Hanover we found the perfect client to deliver it—but it took some imaginative management and dogged persistence to get it down the runway.
Making a mark within a masterplan
Every development has to reach a compromise with competing agendas whether from landowners, developers or local authorities. Where it is part of a wider development scheme, there are often additional considerations which demand careful negotiation and tact to navigate. This project, which began almost by chance, had more than its share of challenges, but their resolution proved the value of perseverance.
Initially skeptical about the opportunity, the TPS team reassessed it and concluded that with the right partner it was worth bidding. Anchor Hanover is the UK’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for over-55s. It has an enviable track record and its standing in the sector is based on a reputation for delivery. We took the opportunity to the Anchor Hanover team, proposing TP as the development management partner.
The bid was generated between both organisations and successfully submitted by TPS. We subsequently handled the acquisition with the legal team and secured Anchor Hanover’s board approval to exchange on the purchase, subject to obtaining the necessary planning approvals.
The shape of the site led to an initial plan of a seven storey building offering 65 residential units. But further consideration of the land inspired a new idea using the topography of the site to greater advantage. A fall in the site from back to front suggested an undercroft car park. While such an approach would mean offering improved lift access for residents – Anchor normally likes everything at grade — it also enabled us to increase the units from 65 to 72, which paid for the technical demands of the undercroft. To keep to the original purchase price, we were also able to trade a surplus parcel of the site back to the land owner.
Risk management as important as technical skill
Working within the masterplan for the site added a further complication in the source of heating and hot water — a district system was planned and this development would be expected to make use of it. It forced a detailed reconsideration of the plan.
Although the environmental advantages of the district system were self-evident, the details of its operation and service were less obvious. In view of the high level of care and quality Anchor Hanover provides its residents, we were keen to establish complete clarity over all the potential issues of the heating system. It required detailed legal agreements, visibility and predictability of charging and tariffs, and an understanding of how the building would cope in the event of a service interruption.
Determination, pragmatism, and getting deep into the details
The heating network was perhaps the most significant obstacle in the journey toward a completed deal for the development, taking over a year to tie up. There were compromises on the way. Anchor Hanover, whose views are based on their detailed knowledge of their customers needs, were of the first importance, but the land owner and promoter of the masterplan also held views about how the overall appearance of the site, which is historic and an important part of national heritage.
Like many a development it was not a straight line from taxing to take-off. There are often competing requirements that you have to deal with—balancing competing views and aspirations and solving problems through a mixture of diligence and creative thinking is a distinctive aspect of the TPS service.