Planning and Design


Careful planningCareful design



Without giving all our secrets away, our approach to the ever-changing and sometimes illogical world of planning is quite simple – we find the best solution for our clients’ needs. Often this is a site not being marketed for sale nor allocated for the intended use.

What’s the plan?
The UK planning system is a ‘plan-led’ one, yet the vast majority of plans fail to provide for the needs of our care sector clients. Therefore, we often have to use ‘material considerations’ to enable planning permission to be granted as a departure from the plan.

Such ‘material considerations’ usually include answers to the following questions:

  • What needs to be developed? Who says it does?
  • When does it need to be delivered? What happens if it’s not?
  • Where would it be best sited? Are such sites apparently available?
  • What are other benefits of the scheme? Do they off-set any harm?

It's all about people
Using our own in-house chartered town planning expertise, backed up by our knowledge of the care sector, we always seek to work with the local community to achieve a development that everyone is proud of (easier said than done sometimes!).

Engaging with local communities and their elected representatives is key – much like any relationship, we find you only get out what you put in. We find that a listening ear, approachability and flexibility goes a long way towards securing mutual trust.

Some examples
Forging relationships with people has enabled us to achieve some big wins over the years – we’ve increased the density of a care home development on an employment site which previously had a recommendation of refusal for a smaller scheme:

We’ve also developed a care village comprising of care home and extra care development on an ‘edge of settlement’ green field location within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where others failed and without the need for appeal. The solution also involved the use of clever anti-vibration technology to mitigate potential noise from a nearby employer.

No two Brackley buildings are the same
We develop bespoke solutions for each development to suit the individual client’s requirements and the local context. Sometimes clients change their minds, so our flexibility comes to the fore during the planning process (and sometimes whilst building on site!).

What doesn’t change is the quality of our developments – built to last, utilising best practice in design and optimising environmental efficiency – our latest developments have been built to BREEAM Excellent standard.



We are very aware of just how traumatic the experience of being moved into full-time nursing or dementia care can be for a new resident. It is the significance of the loss of independent living that is often exacerbated by the institutional feel and design of care homes which can sometimes feel more like hospitals. We continually work closely with our operator partners in new care development to see how the building design and specification can be further improved to support more humane models of care.

As the prevalence of dementia has increased, so has our understanding that some behaviour – which is sometimes perceived as ‘difficult’ or ‘disturbing’ to other residents – is triggered by feelings of anxiety or stress. Good design of care accommodation can help reduce those instances of anxiety and stress occurring through consideration of the impact on the individual of increasing forgetfulness and perhaps loss of time and direction.

A key aspect of Brackley’s care home design is the division of accommodation into groupings that promotes the feel of a domestic household, whilst maintaining the maximum efficiency of supervising staff. The design is based around a household of eight ensuite bedrooms that share a lounge, dining room and a quiet retreat, all of which retain a domestic scale and provide the feeling of a home rather than a hospital ward. The operational efficiency is achieved through an angled link of each eight-bedroom wing with a single communal kitchen and nurse station.

We recognise the importance of safety and security for both residents and their loved ones, and therefore ensure that our designs provide operators with progressive levels of security through the building and external grounds.

We also understand that good design can help compensate for the progressive loss of cognitive function by supporting intuitive wayfinding. For example, our wing design has a splayed corridor that opens up to the end with the shared lounge and dining room, but narrows towards the end with the space for quiet retreat.

The importance of good design was evidenced recently in a new Brackley care home where the operator moved in two existing residents who were both suffering from dementia. In the old home, the first resident would cry out constantly when they could not see anyone or when they were in the company of those they didn’t recognise, but when they were seated in the household lounge on their first day in the new home, the crying out stopped. The second resident had never left their bedroom in the old home, but staff discovered them washing up at the communal kitchen sink on the morning of their second day in the new home.

Brackley also has a proven record of their designs and construction, meeting Sterling University Dementia Services Gold Standard in dementia design. Indeed, our most recently completed development at South Cerney was judged to have the highest rating for any home assessed by Stirling and also won the UK Over 50s Housing Award 2016 for The Most Outstanding Dementia Care Home Design in the UK.