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Client

Royal British Legion Industries

Location

Aylesford, Kent

Sector

Residential

Services

Quantity Surveying

Value

£3.5M

This much needed housing project saw the development of 24 new one and two bedroom homes for the Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) in Aylesford, Kent. The 24 homes were built for wounded and sick war veterans and their families, all with special adaptations to make the lives of those with disabilities easier.

The housing provides accommodation for those who are not in need of care but do require these specialist facilities. The accommodation is also being provided for younger single veterans in need of temporary housing.

The development also featured a stunning landscaped centrepiece. Originally designed by Jo Thompson for the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show, this Chelsea Barracks Garden was re-established within the new development scheme, both as part of a celebration of the RBLI and to be used as recuperation facility for the Kent veterans.

The two buildings within the project, named Victory House and Invictus Games House are the first phase in the charity’s masterplan to build a Centenary Village which they aim to open in 2019 – their centenary year. The overall masterplan intends to create a small sustainable community for ex-forces personnel. It is close to the Royal British Legion Village where a variety of welfare, health care, employment and other support services are available, as well as 80 houses and bungalows.

The design of the scheme, led by Kent architects Clague has emulated best practice within the region, such as the London Housing Design Guide, which sets out space standards high than other requirements. This has allowed the RBLI to offer spacious living areas to their tenants who benefit greatly in respect of living with disabilities. This has set a benchmark for the future phases of the scheme.

The veteran’s accommodation was completed on budget and to a high standard, and praise has been expressed from the funders and the RBLI themselves.

Community development.

The project is a key part of the RBLI’s offering to the community both within Kent and nationwide. Their vision is to support the Armed Forces, people with disabilities and people who are unemployed. They seek to improve lives every day by inspiring those they help and supporting them to find work and lead independent lives.

The RBLI’s vision for this project has been realised and the project team fully supported this vision, by ensuring that where possible local employment was sought. This culminated in the fact that the appointed Architect (Clague), Quantity Surveyor (B&M), Structural Engineer (Evans & Langford) and Services Consultant (PSC) were all Kent based companies. Through a traditional tender process, the Kent based contractor, Jenner, were appointed for the construction stage. Jenner’s support allowed apprentices within the construction supply chain to be a valuable part of the overall project.

The RBLI were also able to provide further community involvement by using their in-house services, producing signage for their scheme, through their social enterprise initiative, “Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Co.”. This is a RBLI run initiative which creates employment opportunities for ex-Forces personnel, allowing them to use the skills they learned in the Armed Forces while enabling them to maintain their independence in civilian life.

Sustainability.

The scheme, being the first of a number phases, has been completed with the underlying vision held by RBLI Living, the part of RBLI who provide care facilities and housing. This is to tailor their services for each individual’s needs, and provide each resident with the support they need to lead an independent life.

The RBLI veterans’ housing provision support those who may be adjusting to civilian life or single Veterans who need support. Residents enjoy a lively ex-military community with a real neighbourhood feel. The current village is a place that they can truly call home, with schools, amenities, welfare support and employment opportunities on the doorstep, and this current scheme builds upon this support network. This clearly provides social benefits, along with economic strengthening to the local economy in and around Aylesford.

The ongoing development of the scheme, with future phases allows a sustainable village to be put in place, building on what the RBLI have achieved over almost 100 years.

Project team.

  • Architect

    Clague

  • Structural Engineer

    Evans & Langford

  • Services Consultant

    PCS Consulting

  • Contractor

    Jenner

“Veterans, particularly those who are faced with great difficulties due to disabilities, are in need of suitable accommodation to meet their needs and deserve the very best support to help them after their service."

RBLI’s Chief Executive Steve Sherry CMG OBE