Social Impact: Newcastle Annuity

Social Impact Newcastle Annuity Cover 1

Social Impact: Newcastle Annuity

This expanded Case Study for the project Newcastle Annuity has been created with the help of specialist consultants Hoare Lea to demonstrate how we evidence Social Impact through the places that we create.

The Newcastle Annuity project represents a novel approach to a housing need and demonstrates P+HS Architects’ commitment to working on socially impactful schemes. The project delivers much needed affordable housing to individuals over the age of 55 and individuals with a range of needs such as mobility, dementia, learning difficulties, and wheelchair access. P+HS worked in partnership with Tolent Living and Newcastle City Council to deliver affordable and accessible housing across the city of Newcastle. The need for this scheme was so high that P+HS and the design team managed to develop designs of specialist housing for older adults, and submit planning for the 148 homes over 5 sites, in just 8 weeks.

Social Impact Newcastle Annuity Awards

Social Impact of the Design

Despite the speed of project delivery, the Newcastle Annuity project adopted an ethos of co-production and engagement throughout. Extensive stakeholder engagement featured throughout and directly impacted the design of the specialist older adults dwellings. For example, as a result of the engagement activities there were improvements with regards to the sustainability standards of the scheme, with all homes obtaining an A-Rated Energy Performance Certificate and achieving the Home Quality Mark as a result of the needs expressed though stakeholder engagement sessions. In addition, as the project sought to reduce isolation for older adults and integrate the development into the community, engagement was extended beyond the traditional stakeholders (e.g., Local Authorities, potential end users) to include work with local schools and communities. Indeed, one of the sites which offers a series of one and two bed apartments near to the city centre was named ‘Tish Murtha House’ by local school children, after local photographer Patricia Anne Murtha, or Tish, who took photos depicting social deprivation and marginalisation while also celebrating the resilience, resourcefulness and resolve needed to survive in such environments.

Social Impact Health Welbeing 2

Health & Wellbeing: With the target residents of the Newcastle Annuity project being older adults potentially with specific physical and/or mental health needs, and experiencing financial constraints, there were a range of design decisions to help enhance resident health and wellbeing. As well as social isolation and loneliness, covered below, security was also identified as a key design consideration to ensure the potentially vulnerable end-users would feel safe and secure in their homes.

Neighbourhood safety and feelings of safety at home have been found to impact individual health and wellbeing outcomes [1] and thus working towards and achieving Secured by Design Gold Standard, demonstrates the positive social impact P+HS and the design team sought to achieve. To ensure feelings of safety for the residents, and thus enhancing their health and wellbeing, considerations were made in relation to creating better surveillance opportunities and locating doors at the front of buildings. Additionally, the HAPPI standards were used to set criteria for the design, resulting in the specification of dual aspect apartments which increased the distribution of natural light.

[1] Won, J., Lee, C., Forjuoh, S. N., & Ory, M. G. (2016). Neighborhood safety factors associated with older adults' health-related outcomes: a systematic literature review. Social Science & Medicine, 165, 177-186.

Social Impact Diversity Equity Inclusion

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: With the scheme being specifically focused on providing affordable housing for older adults with a range of needs, P+HS designed a mix of specialist accommodation with diversity and inclusivity concerns central to their design decisions. As a result all of the homes developed are wheelchair accessible and adaptable, exceeding Part M building regulations, and were in full compliance with the Wheelchair Housing Design Guide (3rd Ed). The design enables wheelchair circulation space in each room and accessible bathrooms with provisions made for further adaptations in the future such as hoists from the bathroom to the master bedroom. In addition, all external hard surfaces use non-slip materials and are a consistent tone to suit the needs of older adults.

Through the design approach, Newcastle Annuity placed diversity and inclusivity concerns at the heart of the scheme to cater for the specific needs of older adults. Further, the aspects above help to enable older adults to live actively and provide them with a sense of agency and independence, all of which have also been shown to improve health and wellbeing [1].

[1] Beswick, A. D., Gooberman-Hill, R., Smith, A., Wylde, V., & Ebrahim, S. (2010). Maintaining independence in older people. Reviews in Clinical Gerontology, 20(2), 128-153.

Social Impact Social Cohesion

Social Cohesion: Despite the diverse range of accommodation provided across the 5 sites, social cohesion and interaction was a key consideration throughout the design stages. With social isolation and loneliness a predictor for negative physical and mental health outcomes [1] the design team looked to actively have a positive social impact on the residents of the properties. As a result, they designed in connecting areas and communal facilities which provided protected spaces for the residents to socialise. As a result of the co-production and engagement work, sufficient carparking was factored into the design to ensure that family and friends could visit with ease, helping to reduce isolation and enabling residents to feel a deeper connection with the local community and maintain a sense of purpose and identity.

[1] Shankar, A., McMunn, A., Banks, J., & Steptoe, A. (2011). Loneliness, social isolation, and behavioral and biological health indicators in older adults. Health psychology, 30(4), 377.

Broader Social Impact

The broader social impact of the Newcastle Annuity project is potentially vast and extensive. As a project which specifically sought to address the housing needs of a marginalised population in an area that had been underdeveloped for long periods of time and as a result had become a site for crime and antisocial behaviour, the broader social impacts will be in relation to the older adults and the local community. For the older adults, access to affordable housing which enables active living and attempts to tackle issues of social isolation and loneliness will be of benefit to the residents themselves, their families and friends, and more broadly to Newcastle’s Health and Social Care Services through a reduction in service dependence as a result of increased health and wellbeing. In addition, as a result of the significant redevelopment of areas which have been underdeveloped, broader social benefits will be realised in the area through feelings of belonging, pride, and a reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour. Combined, the benefits to the individual residents and the local community can be understood in a similar light to Karen Bell’s Social Return on Investment Analysis of Life Cycle UK which found that for every £1 invested, there was an £8.05 return to society [1].

[1] Bell, K., (2013) Life Cycle UK: Social Return on Investment. Summary Report. University of Bristol.

Social Perceptions of the Project

As the above highlights, the Newcastle Annuity project had a significant positive social impact from the decisions taken in relation to its design, and the focus and goals of the scheme more generally. Data from people directly experiencing the developments across the five Newcastle sites also comment on the positive social impact the scheme has achieved. As Linda Hobson, Councillor and Cabinet Member for Housing at Newcastle City Council comments:

"I’ve met several of the residents who have moved into their new homes and it’s amazing to hear about the difference these homes have made to their lives"

In addition, commenting more specifically on one of the development sites, Tish Murtha House, the following comments highlight the positive social impact the scheme has had on an area that has historically suffered from social inequalities:

"We are passionate about helping to create communities that people are proud to live in and call home, so it is fantastic to see the local school involved right from the start. We will continue to find opportunities to help this community spirit grow and develop as Tish Murtha House comes to life".

- Tina Drury, Managing Director at Your Homes Newcastle

"…a special project that contributes in solving housing crisis by providing high-quality affordable homes for an age group that have very specific needs. I am pleased to be here and see it in person that how much our projects can positively impact a community. Seeing the local school and the council coming together for Tish Murtha House only reinforces our commitment to build and help communities to flourish"

- Chris Price, Tolent Divisional Managing Director

"My Mam wanted people to feel like their lives mattered, that they were as important as anyone else. I’m so proud that her work is inspiring a new generation here in Elswick and I’m sure she would be honoured to have her name on a building that will make a positive difference to so many people’s lives"

- Ella Murtha (Tish Murtha's daughter)

Key People