Norwood, the UK's largest Jewish charity, has submitted plans to Wokingham Borough Council for a £16 million-plus development to its Ravenswood site that will create homes and outdoor spaces that are modern, fit for purpose and accessible to everyone.
The project will see a major upgrade to Ravenswood’s residential accommodation and facilities and will ensure that Norwood can continue to deliver support to both its current 111 residents and future residents.
Additionally, a parcel of land on the Ravenswood site will be released to national housing developer Charles Church. This site will provide 183 new homes (40% of which will be 'affordable housing'), as part of Norwood’s plan to create a unique and pioneering community that 'will transform what is currently an isolated intentional community for those with learning disabilities into a rich and inclusive part of the wider Wokingham community'.
Already a major employer in the Crowthorne and Wokingham area providing nearly 470 jobs, the Ravenswood development plan will provide further economic and environmental benefits to the region. The new houses will create a positive impact on local shops, services and facilities. The creation of an 18-hectare site of suitable alternative natural greenspace (SANG) will support biodiversity and provide a new area of natural beauty open to all. And existing facilities, such as the hydrotherapy pool and stables, will be enhanced, expanded and modernised providing increased capacity for both residents of Ravenswood and the wider community.
Dr Beverley Jacobson, Norwood’s chief executive, said: “The plans have been carefully thought through to balance the needs of residents with the desire to align with the national agenda of community inclusion for those with learning disabilities.
“Ravenswood blazed a trail when it was opened in 1953, and these pioneering plans will enable Ravenswood and Norwood to take their place at the front and centre of the national conversation about the inclusivity and integration of people with learning disabilities. The development is also part of Norwood’s wider plan to keep pushing boundaries and explore the art of the possible for people with complex needs.
“The plan includes many exciting elements, from the upgrading of existing facilities to the building of new flexible spaces for meetings, workshops and conferences. All of this will extend our services to many more people in the local community, some of whom may choose to live in the new Charles Church homes, which will also, we hope, provide a fresh source of paid staff and volunteers for Ravenswood.”
Roger Filer, chair of Ravenswood Families Association, a body which represents the people living at Ravenswood, said he and the families he represents were delighted with the agreement. “This represents a very positive development for Ravenswood and the people currently living there. It will vastly improve the living accommodation and external environment for many of Ravenswood’s residents.”
Robert Clark, head of planning at Charles Church Thames Valley, says: “We are pleased to be partnering with Norwood on the delivery of this exciting project.”
Subject to planning approval, construction will commence during 2020, with plans to officially unveil the upgraded site in 2022.