A new city centre development

  • Service: New developments
  • Client: NHS Hull

With two city centre based GP practices as well as a range of other health and community services in need of more fit for purpose premises, the NHS felt it was essential providers were re-housed in a city centre location to best meet the needs of the population they served. A new city centre facility was an integral part of the NHS and Hull City Council’s strategic plans to support the growing residential and commercial community of the area.

The flagship building was to replace an abandoned office building, prominently positioned on Albion Square. Albion Square was a strategic development area at the heart of Hull city centre, with retail, office, residential and leisure uses all adjacent to the facility. The location of the building was specifically chosen to enable best access for all services, with immediate access to all major bus and rail links for the c. 60,000 patients expected annually and the c. 300 staff based there.

The new facility needed to house a unique mix of services. User groups were diverse, many were vulnerable and there were also potential conflicts between groups; future flexibility was also a critical design consideration.

To ensure all of these challenges were fully considered service providers were involved from the first stroke of the brief that accompanied the design competition; a set of user group vignettes were provided alongside the original brief to give the design team a deeper insight into building user needs.

The project team engaged with 20 community groups throughout the design process to ensure the local community and businesses were supported; the 24/7 helpdesk number was made available to all residents and businesses. Bi-monthly community meetings were also held throughout the construction.

Promotion for the shop units was incorporated into hoardings and joint news stories also featured in the local media. The project team held over 30 site tours and events, including a sod cutting, a topping out ceremony, and a time capsule burial with a local school.

The project team had an appreciation of Hull City Council’s longer regeneration plans for the Albion Square area, thus were able to propose a solution to minimise the cost of creating the Council funded Public Square adjacent to the new health centre, by offering to deliver this alongside the main construction contract. Taking this holistic approach meant that the Council were able to avoid additional costs of site set up and other project management fees, and the project was delivered in a cost effective manner. Independent cost advice confirmed this approach led to a significant saving for the local authority.

Wilberforce Health Centre was completed on time, on budget and safely. The building houses a unique mix of services including GP practices, office space, a community café and community services.
As part of the environmental considerations for the development, the team:

Recycled 98% of the demolished building and 1.6 tonnes of pigeon guano.

Demolished the unsightly predecessor, by hand in parts, to protect neighbouring terraces.

Invested 1% of the construction budget in arts in health interventions to create a more ‘healing’ environment.

Exceeded Environment Agency flood mitigation expectations.

Created 2 biodiversity zones.

Incorporated solar power and an intelligent building management system.

Introduced grey water recycling to reduce water usage.

As part of an ongoing estates management agreement, the team manages the building day-to-day to ensure it remains in peak condition. The services includes an on-site Building Manager, who was on hand over three months before the construction was completed to learn the characteristics of the building, and as a result, knows the building inside out. He acts as a caretaker, porter, informal security and building technician all rolled into one. The team also manages a front of house service to ensure visitors are greeted and appropriately sign posted.