Rutland has been successful in a bid to join the Government’s Garden Communities programme, to help shape proposals for the possible future redevelopment of St. George’s Barracks in North Luffenham.

The national Garden Communities programme has been set up by the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) to help meet demand for new homes in England. Garden communities are intended to create new housing, infrastructure, jobs and services within sustainable communities.

As part of ongoing proposals being developed by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) with Rutland County Council, a bid for Garden Communities Funding was submitted to MHCLG in November 2018.

MHCLG announced this week that St. George’s is one of 19 successful bids to the Garden Communities programme and will receive a proportion of £3million grant funding to help develop design and layout proposals that include the creation of innovative new dementia-friendly neighbourhoods.

St. George’s Barracks is due to close in 2021/22, which has led to proposals for a new Garden Community that would include up to 2,215 new homes, space for new businesses, a new primary school, healthcare facilities and a country park.

Working with the MOD, Rutland County Council is looking at how any new community at St. George’s could be designed to support dementia-friendly lifestyles by creating inclusive neighbourhoods that are safe and welcoming for people with dementia – allowing them to live side-by-side with others in spaces that meet their specific needs, as well as the needs of families and carers.

Councillor Oliver Hemsley, Leader of Rutland County Council said:

“We are delighted to be part of the Garden Communities programme. This funding and the support that comes with it will allow us to develop our plans for a new community that meets the highest possible design standards, drawing on knowledge and expertise that would not otherwise be available to us.

“As part of plans for the possible redevelopment of St. George’s, we want a design that is sustainable, beautiful and benefits from the right infrastructure – provided at the right time – together with spaces that promote wellbeing and independent living for everyone. This is an important part of our wider proposals for St. George’s that aim to deliver affordable homes and space for new businesses in the heart of our county.”

As well as building new homes, garden communities prioritise the development of job opportunities, green space, transport infrastructure, schools, healthcare facilities and community centres.

The St. George’s Evolving Masterplan, which was published in November 2018, also incorporates guidelines for the creation of dementia-friendly neighbourhoods, including:

  • Using a variety of well-positioned landmarks to help people identify routes
  • Designing with a variety of carefully combined materials, colours and textures to help distinctiveness
  • Designing simple, well-connected streets, with uncomplicated junctions to make them easy to use and understand
  • Taking care to avoid clutter, as too much visual stimuli can have a negative effect by causing confusion and a lack of concentration
  • Designing plain signs with large lettering 
  • Designing flat, wide footways with gentle ramps, allowing those with walking aids to easily pass other pedestrians

Councillor Hemsley added: “Last year, Rutland became only the second local authority in the UK to appoint a dedicated Admiral Nurse to provide help and support for families affected by dementia. We now have two Admiral Nurses, and our proposals for dementia-friendly communities as part of redeveloped St. George’s builds on this commitment to help people live well with dementia.”

In addition to their bid for Garden Communities funding, the MOD and Rutland County Council are awaiting the outcome of a bid for £30million from UK’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF).

The HIF submission is based on the latest Evolving Masterplan for St. George’s and, if successful, would allow essential infrastructure works to be brought about in advance of the site’s redevelopment. This would ensure appropriate and timely investment in infrastructure and local public services, including upgraded roads and junctions, new healthcare facilities and public transport.