Castle Court recognised as one of the best in the region

A state-of-the-art, independent living scheme for the over 55’s has been recognised as one of the best residential developments in the North East by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Derwentside Homes’ flagship Castle Court development in Annfield Plain, County Durham won the Residential category and was shortlisted in the Building Conservation category of the awards.

The RICS Awards final, which was held in Newcastle last Friday, showcased the talent of property professionals across the UK within property, construction and environment sectors.

The £3.71 million scheme, which was developed by Keepmoat, was regenerated from three unused buildings into 41 one and two-bed apartments. The former Durham County Council-owned residential home Manor House and Primary Care Trust office building Priory Court were combined with the original Castle Court building.

Castle Court first opened its doors in 1985 and comprised of 32 bedsits, however, after consulting with tenants and seeing a decline in demand for traditional outdated bedsit accommodation, Derwentside Homes decided to give the building a complete makeover.

This stunning new building is now a local landmark where people aspire to live, where they feel safe and part of a community. Castle Court is a contemporary building which moves away from the archetypal image of elderly accommodation. It provides flexible, contemporary living whilst maintaining function and lifespan considerations.

Local Councillor Michelle Hodgson said:

“The building is amazing and a fabulous addition to the village and the housing offer for Derwentside Homes. Many of the old residents have come back and they all love it. It has fabulous access to the village, busses and local shops.”

Geraldine Kay, Chief Executive of Derwentside Homes said:

“Castle Court is a flagship conversion project which has not only transformed the local area but also breathed new life into three obsolete buildings into high quality, luxury apartments for older people.

“I am delighted that the scheme was not only shortlisted in two categories of the RICS Awards but won the Residential category award and I would like to congratulate everybody involved in the development for this magnificent achievement.”

The scheme received funding for £400,000 from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). Neil Graham, Head of Area at the HCA, said:

“The award for Castle Court reflects the quality of the development that our partners have completed.

“The Homes and Communities Agency are delighted that the support given to the Castle Court development created such a fantastic result in terms of innovative conversion that provided modern high quality accommodation for residents now and long into the future. The project once again gave the local high street a landmark building to be proud of and will support the vibrancy and economic growth of the local community into the future”

One tenant who has really noticed the change is Gwen Dryden, a former resident of the original Castle Court scheme who is back living in exactly the same flat.

She said:

“There are a few small similarities but most of it has changed completely – it is much bigger now and the best thing is I now have doors leading out into the courtyard which is lovely.

“Everyone here is so friendly – there is a real community spirit. I feel very lucky to live here.”

David Pye, Head of Development and Asset Management at Derwentside Homes, said:

“At times, it is too easy to give up on existing buildings and pursue a demolition and new build route.

“Through previous learning on similar schemes at Haven House and Magdalene Court, we have been able to bring together and deliver innovation, creativity and a project that offers fantastic results for future tenants and the local community.”

The architect for the scheme was Blake Hopkinson Architecture.