The Clervaux Trust was launched in January 2009 in partnership with the Ruskin Mill Educational Trust and the Clow Beck Centre to provide education and training to young people through a curriculum based on sustainability, craft, and land work.
Edgars was approached by the project architect to assist with planning permission for alterations to a building and the change of its use from a restaurant and nightclub to a bakery, shop, café, office, and education facility.
The aim of the project was to provide students with a wide range of high-quality work experience, placement, and training opportunities. Students could develop skills in a variety of different practical activities and learn how to work as part of a team, and because of this, improve their confidence and self-esteem.
There were several constraints that needed to be addressed as part of the planning process. The building is listed and within a Conservation Area, therefore, any alterations would need to respect the architectural and historic interest of the building and preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.
The building adjoins residential property to one side and St Augustine’s Church Garden on the other. With the introduction of catering equipment needed for the bakery and café, extraction systems would be required and have the potential for noise and odour issues for the neighbours.
Other constraints included the rear sections of the building at first and ground floor having no natural light, which would restrict any use of the rear of the building. As well as this, the building has no on-site parking or space for cycle provision.
The building had a poor level of insulation and no double-glazed windows. Therefore, alterations to improve and reduce carbon emissions would also need to respect the listed building and its historic fabric.
Understanding the Trust’s objectives and business vision was a key part of the work undertaken on the site. It was key that the new use of this building would integrate with the operational needs and objectives of the client, land holding and the town centre. Once we understood this, we could then work with the consultant team to provide the best solution to the client.
Recognising the importance of establishing a strong relationship with local authorities, we organised a meeting with the conservation officer from the local planning authority. In doing so, we could effectively present our solutions to the officer and gain valuable informal feedback from them that would help to further improve the design process.
As the client was on a tight schedule, the rapport built with the conservation officer and pre-application advice was an efficient use of time and ensured the project progressed at a good pace.
The site also offered several opportunities. For instance, various inappropriate modern additions had previously been added, and this project provided the opportunity to improve those changes and add better details that were sensitive to the heritage elements of the building.
Planning permission was granted by Darlington Borough Council in 2009 and the project is now completed.