PRP is an interdisciplinary, design-led practice with over 50 years’ experience in housing design and urban planning. We deliver intelligent, responsive and enduring design solutions through a collaborative and knowledge-based approach. With our extensive team of architects and professional services we create places of distinction and purpose. (opens new window)

Building a new multi-generational neighbourhood St Thomas’ Gardens, Shaw Heath, Stockport

History of the site

Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation was set up in 2019 to spearhead the regeneration of Town Centre West which will play a crucial role in redefining Stockport, Greater Manchester, over the coming decades.

The Strategic Regeneration Framework for Town Centre West provides opportunities for a mix of business and employment opportunities, 3,500 new homes, an enhanced leisure offer and innovation in terms of sustainability to ensure that the area is at the cutting edge of town centre living in the 21st century.

The Royal George Quarter sits to the southernmost point of Town Centre West, where the vision is to transform the area, creating a new, high quality residential-led neighbourhood. A series of interventions will repair and stitch the area back together, with the re-purposing of St Thomas’ playing a key part in the town-centre regeneration.

The derelict St. Thomas’ Hospital (previously Stockport Workhouse) which has featured on the show ‘Most Haunted,’ dates back to 1841 and is one of the largest pieces of underutilised land in the Royal George Quarter, which has lain unused for over 15 years. It offers an opportunity to create a diverse, vibrant community, designed to appeal to a wide range of age groups and providing a mix of housing which helps to create and foster supportive communities which straddle the generations.

St Thomas’ Hospital was last used as an NHS facility in 2004. Since that time the eight individual listed buildings have fallen into various states of disrepair. The team are passionate about transforming the former St Thomas’ into a sustainable, innovative, multi-generational residential community that is diverse and vibrant, by developing a masterplan which:

  • Respects the historical setting of the remaining heritage assets including both built form and the spaces they enclosed;
  • Reinforces a sense of spatial enclosure whilst improving permeability and connectivity with the wider Royal George Quarter, a residential neighbourhood which dovetails into the wider masterplan for Town Centre West, where vehicular movement is not allowed to adversely impact on the historical setting;
  • Re-imagines the collection of retained buildings into a mix of residential accommodation, designed to attract a diverse, vibrant, healthy and inclusive community.

A multi-generational community

Plans to repurpose the former St Thomas’ Hospital buildings into a new, flagship multi-purpose and multi-generational town centre neighbourhood forms part of Stockport Council’s vision for the area. Planning was approved earlier this year. The scheme has been led and designed by PRP’s Manchester studio.

Stockport Council and Stockport Homes (also known as Viaduct Housing Partnership) have proposed a £25 million development that will deliver 67 affordable new homes including 54 apartments within new and existing buildings, as well as 13-new-build townhouses on the site. 80% of homes will be made available through shared ownership, with the remaining 20% for social or affordable rental.

The proposed dwelling mix will predominantly be of 1, 2 and 3 bed properties; however, two 5 bed multi-generational houses are also proposed. All dwellings will be Homes England grant approved affordable products, specifically designed to create a multi-generational community.

The main Grade II-listed workhouse and infirmary buildings will be sympathetically converted and restored as part of a scheme giving these empty buildings a new purpose and sustainable future.

Dementia-friendly care facility

The Academy of Living Well, a 70-bed intermediate care and dementia facility is also planned for the North-eastern end of the site. The Academy is a new facility which supports transitional care needs including; step up / step down, discharge to assess, rehabilitation and respite alongside dementia care in the very heart of Stockport town centre.

Sara McKee, Evermore Well-being and specialist advisor to Stockport Council

“The Academy of Living Well is part of Stockport’s ground-breaking prospectus to reduce health inequalities among older people.

A place where social care and health will come together offering short breaks in a small household environment; giving the tools to enable Stockport’s older residents to flourish back in their own homes.

People are actively involved in their recovery rather than being passive recipients through Evermore’s Big Table approach.

The Academy addresses the three challenges of workforce reform, people-centric service focusing on ‘home first’ and true integration of social care, housing and health.”

Sara McKee, Evermore Well-being and specialist advisor to Stockport Council

Consultation key themes

Between August and September 2020, a virtual pre-planning consultation was undertaken to capture the views of the local community. Over 150 responses were received with 100% in favour of the vacant St Thomas’ Hospital site being redeveloped. Furthermore, nearly 100% of responses were in favour affordable housing including housing for older people being proposed for this important site creating a new multi-generational community.

Other key themes and comments to be drawn from the consultation included:

  • The importance of delivering affordable housing and a mix of tenures
  • The quality of the scheme design
  • The restoration of an underutilised brownfield site and historic buildings
  • The regeneration benefits to the town centre in bringing this site into active use
  • The importance of good pedestrian and transport links.

Best practice sustainable design

PRP have proposed designs that demonstrate best practice, with the new build houses designed to the HAPPI design principles and the Academy of Living Well being designed to Passivhaus and BREEAM Excellent standards respectively. The historic setting of the existing listed buildings as well as each of the spaces between them have been preserved and respectfully reimagined, bringing new life and vibrancy to the site.

This development will secure a sustainable use for the remaining heritage assets, safeguarding them for future generations by sensitively retaining as much of the historic fabric of St Thomas’ as possible. Carefully considered new buildings will reinforce the historic layout, thereby allowing the story of St Thomas’ and its importance to Stockport, to continue to be understood and appreciated.

Key characteristics include:
A high-quality public realm which aims to create a series of interlinked external spaces that incorporate pedestrian links, opportunities for communal activity and a welcoming and biodiverse environment that reflects and responds to the historical context and surroundings of the imposing, former hospital site. No longer a secure, gated site, the public realm unifies each of the different buildings the site into a single, distinctive place which is fully integrated into the wider town centre.

The design of new built form has been strongly influenced by the symmetry and simple order of Henry Bowman’s designed Workhouse of 1840, which adopts an honest approach where form follows function.

Work on the site is expected to begin in the Spring 2022.

“Restoring and bringing back into use this heritage site is hugely important for Stockport and the planning process has been sensitively managed by PRP and has produced a design which is fully supported. We look forward to getting on site and making a start.”

Chris Munby, Head of Development, Stockport Homes Group
Graham Locke, Director PRP

“It has been an incredibly rewarding project, working alongside Stockport Homes and SMBC, to develop a new concept where intergenerational, affordable living and transitional care, have come together to create a stunning new development in Stockport’s emerging residential quarter.”

Graham Locke, Director PRP