The Elms, Chester-le-Street

The Elms is a specialist housing development for the over 55’s in Chester-le-Street which has been widely praised as an example of best practice in its field.

The £6.5m scheme for Cestria Housing, now part of the ISOS Group, was visited in December by the Homes & Communities Agency’s vulnerable and older people practitioner group with representatives from London, Manchester and Liverpool given a tour of the development by Zoey Hawthorne, Assistant Director of Development and Property for Isos, and Steve Riding, Development and Regeneration Manager for Cestria Community Housing.

Consisting of 52 apartments and six bungalows, for rent, sale and shared ownership, all designed specifically for people aged 55 and over who require support with their care or housing, The Elms was designed in response to the recommendations set out in the government’s 2009 HAPPI (Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation) Report, which aims to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle for people aged 55 and over.

JDDK Director and Project Architect, Mura Mullan, explained, “The HAPPI Report in essence set out 10 basic design principles for housing for aged persons which we’ve been able to incorporate in The Elms. The scheme includes elements of flexibility for residents in anticipation of their needs changing over time. The internal layouts therefore take into account the differing levels of dependency the residents will encounter and are flexible enough for people to stay in their homes for as long as possible.”

Cestria Community Housing’s Managing Director, Martin Warhurst said, “The Elms is our flagship development and we’re incredibly proud of it. This was a challenging site to work on with the building situated on a steep slope and a railway line close by.

“But despite this our development team, along with all the partners involved, have produced a state-of-the-art scheme using some truly innovative design concepts. The result is a development which we believe will make a huge difference to the lives of all the new residents and we are sure it will be a place that they are proud to call their home.”

Kevin McGeough, Head of Corporate Strategy at the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), commented, “The Elms has set a benchmark for high quality extra care in the northeast.  HCA are delighted that our Care and Support Specialised Housing fund has helped Cestria to deliver this excellent project.  We have been particularly impressed by the developers understanding of the HAPPI principles which are clearly evident in the scheme.”