Planning Permission secured to help a Staffordshire charity create space for growth
Planning Permission secured to help a Staffordshire charity create space for growth
The Saltbox Christian Centre
The Saltbox charity is a well-known name in Stoke-On-Trent and across North Staffordshire. The charity was founded over thirty years ago with a founding vision to project Christian support and encouragement for local faith groups to help them to grown and develop. Since their humble beginnings in the early 1980’s their reach within the community has expanded due to their exemplary work through faith events including, large celebrations, training courses and united prayer events, reaching those in need of support and guidance in the region.
Over the years they have grown from strength to strength becoming a model of good practice to encourage the faith sector to work more collaboratively with the wider voluntary, public and private sectors.
The increasing number of government cuts to public support services has increased the growing need for private initiatives and charitable support for vulnerable members of society. The Saltbox’s strong presence in the region for their meaningful work and the increased need to support exposed members of the community has facilitated the charity’s growth over the past decade. Consequently, to reach and contribute further to help more people they have developed a range of charitable caring initiatives for vulnerable adults including;
Restart – this service provides support to individuals who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
Carelink – is Saltbox’s older people’s service to help to reduce loneliness and isolation. They encourage independent living to older members of the community who are socially isolated, frail housebound, lonely or if they have limited mobility.
Money Matters – is a free confidential debt advice service to support those experiencing financial problems and they help to educate people to manage their money and debt.
For the charity to continue to thrive and expand their existing support facilities within the region, their office base in the city centre of Stoke-On-Trent required modifying and refreshing, to enhance the environment for the Saltbox team and the community they support, improving the overall experience of care and assistance that the Saltbox provides.
Their building is currently used for several services and storage, including office space for the team, volunteers and community meeting rooms, warehousing and workshop facilities and also the Methodist Book Centre.
The Saltbox have another site in the city, and it is their intention for all faucets of the charity to all co locate in the city centre hub together.
The building is very expansive and has three floors. Although there is plenty of natural light extending throughout the administrative and client facing areas. The décor has become outdated making the office and meeting areas uncomfortable and undistinguished.
We were appointed by The Saltbox, to redesign, refurbish and refit the whole building, paying particular attention to the existing client facing and administrative facilities, that required modernising from the current 1960 and 70’s style.
Their design brief was to create a series of private and open spaces, that are light filled and modern to dramatically improve the environment into contemporary office space that’s welcoming, uplifting and encouraging, yet private, and safe where needed
Upon surveying the building we could clearly see that all three floors required redesigning to find a suitable design solution for the property to accommodate the existing staff, equipment, meeting rooms and secure storage facilities, whilst incorporating the fixtures, fittings and members of the team from the relocated site.
Interesting fact, when Carl Croft started the Croft Architecture back in 2009 our team worked on the building for the Methodist Bookshop. It’s great to return to assist the charity with their future plans, enhancing the building to modernise and facilitate their business needs.
The charity has become a significant part of the community in Stoke-On-Trent. Their dedication and good practice to encourage the faith sector to work more collaboratively with the wider voluntary, public and private community now means that they have a wider reach beyond the fringes of the city.
They’re extremely proud of how far they have come in the last thirty years and that they’re continually growing, reaching and assisting more people. They take pride in the support services that they offer and deliver. It’s therefore essential that our design approach successfully conveys The Saltbox’s community focused purpose and ethos throughout their office refit, whilst developing a design solution that respects the site and the existing building in accordance with the latest building regulations.
We intend for the new spaces to become a warm and friendly environment, creating surroundings that aesthetically provide support for those who seek help within the sanctuary of The Saltbox, whilst ensuring the safety and security of volunteers, staff and the building itself. The new defined meeting areas intend to provide an embracing, secure and inspiring environment, ‘changing the world one life at a time!’
The Saltbox need the building to successfully ‘where several caps’ for the site to operate effectively and efficiently, creating a new multi-functional hub for the charity now and to maximise their potential for future growth within the parameters the building.
The requirements for the charity’s needs from the building are varied to be able to fully support all the deliverable facets from the site.
It is our design intention to create a welcoming reception space that’s bright, airy, and professional, whilst being safe and secure for the staff managing the desk and the front of house office services. In addition to the new reception area the ground floor will accommodate newly refurbished toilets, showers, changing rooms, a washing machine area, a new naturally lit multi functional space, and two new secure and highly overlooked interview rooms, plus replacement windows and entrance frontage to the street elevation.
On the first floor and second floor
The first floor and second floor spaces need to provide areas for several functions for the charity. Our design intends to provide a mixture of spaces where people can collaborate and also areas for the team to work in private. There will also be a series of private meeting rooms, two new board rooms and individual private offices.
The form and character of these floors also derive from the acoustic requirements of the space to create a naturally lit but acoustically enhanced enclosure for the call centre and financial operations.
Away from the main public flow, the upper floors also provide an ideal secure location for archiving and storage rooms. In addition to the mix of the new office spaces, archiving and storage, the two floors will also receive a full refurbishment to modernise the kitchens, toilets, replacement windows and the curtain wall frontage.
Developing the Design
We’ve done quite a bit of concept development work and we’ve got to the stage where the team at The Saltbox are happy with the plans. The proposals put forward at the concept stage intend to change the external appearance of the building and, as such, a planning application was required.
We’ve subsequently submitted a planning application for change of fenestration at the front of the property, which we are pleased to announce, has been approved. Following the successful planning approval our team can now progress with the next stage of the project.
The scheme requires a building control application. Whereas the planning officers are concerned with the use, scale and appearance of the building, building control officers are only concerned with technical performance of the building. Our team are progressing with the working drawings to provide technical solutions for plan approval by Building Control inspectors.
Thereafter the Building Control inspectors will consider an application for plan inspection and will later be involved in inspecting the site works in accordance with approved plans at various stages to ensure construction complies with The Building Act.
Once we have received Building Control Approval we’ll then go to tender and our team will manage the project closely right through to completion.
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