Phase 1 of Centenary Village was completed in 2017, with the Clague-designed scheme providing 24 specialist apartments on Hermitage Lane to support wounded veterans. Speaking at the opening ceremony of Victory House and Invictus Games House, RBLI Chief Executive Steve Sherry CMG OBE said: “Veterans, particularly those who are faced with great difficulties due to disabilities, are in need of suitable accommodation to meet their needs.”

Following the success of the first phase, design work on Phases 2 and 3 commenced in late 2017. Clague Architects led an iterative design process in which the proposal was continually refined by design workshops with a number of key potential stakeholders, including the Blind Veterans UK and the RBLI’s on-site operations teams.

A hybrid planning application was submitted in December 2017 and was approved by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council in Spring 2018. Detailed approval for Phase 2 comprises 20 townhouses, 20 apartments, 24 assisted living apartments and a new community hub. A further 35 new homes have been approved in outline as part of Phase 3. Accessibility and generous internal space standards are key to the various house typologies that have been developed and many are in excess of Nationally Described Space Standards and Building Regulations Part M (4).

The historic core of the Royal British Legion Village is the Grade-II Listed Preston Hall, which forms the northern end of a landscaped Green Drive towards Barming in the south. Although recent commercial development at the Hermitage Lane junction has seen this historic feature disrupted, the current proposals seek to restore it. Through their analysis of the site’s constraints and opportunities, Clague quickly identified the Green Drive as a valuable landscape heritage asset and incorporated it into the future of Centenary Village at its very heart.

Tim Wolfe-Murray, partner at Clague Architects, said: “The Green Drive makes a significant contribution to the wider character of the Royal British Legion Village, and its integration as a part of the public realm of Centenary Village is intended to build upon this important relationship.”

The sympathetic contemporary vernacular architecture set by Phase 1 is continued in the detailing of Phase 2. This takes the form of a buff stock brick base, with more lightweight upper floors set back and clad in a timber-composite boarding. These material panels are then highlighted with powder-coated aluminium fins, which appear across all key elevations to introduce vertical elements in the streetscape, typically taking the form of balconies or projecting bays. Tim adds: “The overall architectural strategy for Centenary Village is driven by the need to balance practical ongoing maintenance, with the desire to provide high-quality tactile architecture that will create an attractive built environment for generations to come.”

Clague Architects are looking forward to working further with the RBLI over the coming year to bring Phase 2 out of the ground, and are beginning detailed designs for a Reserved Matters application on Phase 3. RBLI Chief Executive Steve Sherry concludes: “The job is not done. It is crucial that we do not forget that more remain in need of assistance. This project can provide them with a place they can come to – a place they can call their home. This village will do just that for almost 100 brave service men and women.”

 

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