Audley Binswood Retirement Village is located in the heart of the Royal Leamington Spa conservation area and is a short walk from the shopping and leisure facilities of Leamington Spa, including the famous Pump Rooms.
The Grade II listed Victorian Gothic Binswood Hall, which was formerly known as North Leamington College, has been fully restored by retirement specialist, Audley and forms the centrepiece of a new retirement village of approximately 90 apartments, built to exacting standards and retaining all of the character of the original building.
Even the 1960s science block built in the grounds has been replaced with a new building, which is more in keeping with the original architecture.
When Audley acquired Binswood Hall in 2011 it was a rambling structure with lots of changes in level, which was further exacerbated by the fact that the site sloped more than two metres from south to north.
The hall was originally designed as a school and had formerly been part of North Leamington College, but its Grade II listed gothic architecture required sensitive adaptation, with the help of a specialist architect, to make it appropriate for a flagship retirement village.
Martin Cummins of Quad Architects was the architect behind the renovation and conversion of Binswood. A specialist in the design and conversion of historic buildings that are fit for purpose and the older age group market, Martin ensured the design of each of the 90 apartments in and around Binswood Hall met the needs of Audley’s target audience.
A lasting legacy
A range of penthouses now supplement the retirement village’s 90 apartments, along with duplex and Regency style apartments, which have been completed in the three distinct areas:
- Newbold Court
- Harbury Court and;
- Binswood Hall.
As testimony to Audley’s commitment to excellence, having only been open for a few months, 80 per cent of the first phase of Audley Binswood was sold on the day of the official opening of Binswood Hall.
Phase Two was the conversion of the magnificent red brick buildings to the rear of the main hall to provide links from the site to Lillington Avenue.
When Audley acquired Binswood Hall it was in an advanced state of extreme neglect and disrepair, presenting the company with a long list of structural challenges to overcome. The rambling ‘Gormenghastlike’ structure along with the of changes in level, were addressed by the:
- Insertion of lifts at key interfaces between the different levels so areas could be linked together
- Provision of ramps where there were significant changes in level – the most notable of these being the front entrance, where a long ramp was designed and screened from view by planting a mature yew hedge, to ensure that the integrity of the front elevation when viewed from the road was maintained.
From the first step inside this incredible Grade II listed building, Binswood Hall, the centre piece building within the luxury retirement village, cannot fail to impress.
The original Victorian Gothic style windows, which have been carefully restored, are complemented with appropriate, attractive and stylish furnishings, new lighting and a curved glass wall that presents a very impressive and stylish entrance. The hall is also home to the Audley Club, which has a health club, swimming pool, library, restaurant and bar.
From the first concept design of an Audley retirement village, whilst working within the inevitable constraints of a listed building, the design and construction teams look for opportunities to incorporate sustainable, low energy and innovative design solutions to create a community which surpasses carbon targets by a substantial margin.
Audley always design its developments to take advantage of combined heat and power units to provide energy sources to the communal buildings and ground-source heat pumps in the private accommodation.
Together with new levels of insulation, which always exceed building regulation requirements, Audley aims to exceed carbon emission targets by at least 46 per cent in the apartments and 17 per cent in the communal buildings.
In order to achieve this, Audley is currently using a range of renewable and low carbon technologies across many of its villages, including Binswood Hall.
A number of duplex, penthouse and two-bedroom apartments are housed in Binswood Hall, Newbold Court and Harbury Court, which are arranged around a central courtyard garden.
Each property has been designed and styled to suit the requirements of over 55s by offering the maximum living space (from 800 sq ft to 1,800 sq ft) and the optimum in thoughtful layout and specification.
As an original Regency building, Harbury Court sits alongside Binswood Hall as an integral part of the village. Benefiting from a modern renovation the building retains all of the period features associated with a Regency property. Apartment highlights include:
- Spacious entry hall
- Large sash windows
- South facing aspect
- Original ornate coving and high ceilings
Complementing the external finishes of Binswood Hall and Harbury Court, Newbold Court has been designed to blend perfectly with the existing buildings and offer additional unique features:
- Patio doors
- Dual aspect balconies
- Outside lighting to terraces
Audley’s overriding priority for its residents is to ensure that they feel safe and secure when they move into an Audley village. Every member of the Audley team is aware of who the residents are and ensures that they have some kind of interaction with them at least once each day. In this way Audley offers peace of mind, companionship and security for all its owners 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
All property owners at Audley Binswood can enjoy thoughtfully designed spaces, which are fit for purpose and take into consideration their changing circumstances over time. Each property owner benefits not only from en-suite bathrooms, walk-in showers with level access and lifts to all floors, but also the peace of mind offered by additional security features including:
- 24-hour Porter and Security
- Emergency call system, such as Tunstall CareAssist
- Smoke detector
- Heat detector
- Intruder alarm operated via a keypad in the hall and Passive Infra Red sensors
The Audley Club
Binswood Hall is also home to the Audley Club, with its own health club, swimming pool, library, restaurant and bar/bistro.
The Hall’s stunning vaulted ceiling, has been innovatively converted to provide a luxurious environment, where residents and club members can socialise, entertain guests, and spend quiet times enjoying the well-stocked library or having a drink in the bar.
The clever use of low-level partitions has enabled Binswood Hall to be subdivided to create a series of unique spaces that elegantly and seamlessly flow, without compromising the height and the grandeur offered by the vaulted ceiling.
A mezzanine floor was introduced into Binswood Hall so that the upper area, with its clerestory windows and elaborate timber roof could be retained as a continuous space, and the area beneath it was converted into the swimming pool and spa. Here, members can enjoy therapeutic treatments and exercise classes in sumptuous surroundings.
Above the health club, Whittles Restaurant has been styled to reflect not only its Grade II listed status, but also showcase the company’s ability to create an additional Audley Club that not only demonstrates style and elegance, but has also been designed to suit its purpose within the development.
Beautiful artworks donated by the local museum also add to the opulent and majestic surroundings. Within the original College Chapel a unique transformation has taken place, providing a striking and unusual gym which houses the latest exercise equipment for the use of residents and Audley Club members.
In the gymnasium the existing narthex screen was moved further into the double height space so the original organ loft could be extended, which allowed space for changing rooms beneath it. Luxury Spa treatment rooms were then incorporated, which were re-designed as organ casings.
Creating an exciting, interesting future
Audley does not describe itself as a property developer. It was created as a company, which offers unique and inspiring private housing and care solution for today’s modern group of over 55s.
When Audley acquires and develops a historic landmark like Binswood Hall it breathes new life into both the building and the local community. To achieve this every Audley development creates local employment and provides new facilities such as its gourmet restaurants, leisure and spa facilities, which can be used to existing local communities.
Catering for the needs of the growing population of over 55s Audley Chief Executive, Nick Sanderson explained:
“New retirees are experiencing a seismic social change. They want options that answer their aspirations and not just their needs.
“Audley has the ability to reach into communities, like those around Binswood Hall, and through its unique approach to marketing convey to our target audience that owning an Audley property opens up an exciting, interesting future. Not one filled with worry, fear and uncertainty.”
This certainly is the environment enjoyed by the growing number of residents at the Audley Binswood Retirement Village.