Broadmoor

Visit to new Broadmoor Hospital site – August 2016

Broadmoor Plan

CVAG was privileged to be invited to visit the new Broadmoor Hospital buildings, now all built up to roof level, though the internal fitting out has still some way to go.

The visit started at Keir’s site office where we donned Personal Protection Equipment: strong heavy boots, hard hats, tough work gloves and hi-viz jackets. On one of the hottest days of the year I could sympathise with the people who have to work in the heat similarly attired.

Our guide led us on a fascinating tour of the various buildings to see the wards and the admin rooms and finally the basement, which houses all the "services".

Following consultation with all, including patients, the buildings are named after London Underground lines, such as Central, District and Jubilee, and the key rooms and internal areas are named after Tube stations. Each of the wards and their individual patient rooms is common in size and shape, so that modules were constructed off site then craned into position letting the buildings go up very quickly. Staff and patients will know where they are in the Hospital by the colour of the walls rather than the shape of the building.

Much psychological thought has gone into the human needs of the patients to have comfortable "homes", yet providing security and safety to protect patients from self-harm and staff from possible attack. This thinking has extended to interview situations; where individuals would be seated and the positioning of doors for safe entry and exit in emergency. When visitors come to see patients they should sometimes be placed so that the patient and visitor can touch one another, whilst in other circumstances they need to be kept apart for the safety of both.

We visited a ward control room where nurses can sit and observe all the corridors from one place. The psychology stretches to staff as well as patients. The control rooms are deliberately small to prevent their being used as meeting rooms distracting the ward staff from their real purpose - observation.

Though the exterior is now up, much is still to be done within, so we could only have a general view of how the main reception area would include three large rooms designated for interviews and "leave of absence". We saw the areas set aside for a shop and for medical services – doctor and dentist and so on. Having different purposes these areas are not modular and in some cases adjustable dividers rather than solid walls will create rooms.

The visit gave a helpful insight into the planned organisation and running of the new Hospital. I asked why more members of the local public were not invited to come and see it from the inside. The answer is that to regard it as a "show house" the site needs to be much more nearly completed. At this stage it would be too costly and disruptive to the work force to show round many and larger groups. Nevertheless I feel that public viewings when it is more or less fully built and decorated would open up much of the mystique about Broadmoor Hospital and perhaps make it a less fearful seeming place.

November 2016

Background

Managed by West London Mental Health NHS Trust (WLMHT), Broadmoor is a high security psychiatric hospital on the edge of Crowthorne.

Broadmoor Hospital Historic

The original 19th century buildings are now unfit for use as modern hospital and a new hospital, scheduled to open in 2017, is being constructed to the side of the current buildings.

Broadmoor is an important local employer and CVAG are supportive of the overall concept of redevelopment. We are pleased to participate in the local stakeholders group organised by the redevelopment committee.

Construction of the new hospital is going well and on schedule. The 6,100 pre-cast concrete panels for the buildings are arriving and are at varying stages of construction. The 3 ward buildings each have two different external neutral colour panels, which have similar brick colouration to the current hospital and to match the environment.

The construction traffic is using a new road, called Joshua Jebb Way, that comes in from the Foresters Way (Crowthorne by-pass), on the other side of the site. This will then become the main access to the new hospital for staff, patients and deliveries.

Finance for redevelopment comes from the Department of Health, supplemented by money raised from sale of the old site and adjacent land. The WLMHT have proposed development of 400+ dwellings around Broadmoor as follows:

Broadmoor Hospital Historic

The original building and surrounding gardens are listed as Grade II assets of national importance, and cannot be demolished without permission. In 2011 The Victorian Society included Broadmoor in it’s list of top 10 endangered buildings in the whole of the UK. Since it is close to the boundary of the Special Protection Area (SPA)*, the building cannot be converted into residential accommodation. The trust will therefore be looking for someone to take it on for some alternative purpose, such as a Hotel or spa. It is an imposing building set on a hill top with magnificent views over Berkshire, Surrey and Hampshire, so it will present an interesting opportunity for the right buyer.

The concept of building in the walled garden is controversial and is opposed by CVAG, the Victorian society and by English Heritage. This is a Grade II registered landscape and the walled garden is an integral part of the landscape. National planning rules are that building within the grounds of a listed building is not permitted unless it can be demonstrated that there is an overriding benefit to the community which outweighs the damage caused. Since the Hospital itself is already under construction and is not dependent on finance from housing in the walled garden, it remains to be seen what mitigating benefit will be proposed by the trust, or whether they will drop that part of the plan.

* Thames Basin Special Protection Area: current regulations ensure that any land within a 400 metre buffer zone, which is deemed to be of ecological importance in maintaining the bird population, will not be developed. More on EU designated SPAs at: http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-162

June 2016