Grove Cottage Planning Success - Pardon Chambers Architects

Grove Cottage, the home of Bishop’s Stortford Mencap, is a registered charity established in 1966 by a group of parents who found that there was a gap in services for children who had additional needs. Since 1975 the organisation has been operating from 151 London Road.

Grove Cottage provides social and educational activities for people of all ages with a learning disability to develop their potential, help them avoid social isolation by supporting lifelong friendships and to provide respite to their family and carers. This mission has resulted in Grove Cottage becoming unique – the only Royal Mencap organisation to provide care throughout the full life course, from its Special Needs Nursery to support for young people and older adults.

The activities are delivered and supported by 37 staff and over 120 volunteers. The activities run cover a wide range of interests from performing arts, physical activity, life skills and social clubs. During an average week (pre-covid) it would have around 100 club visits to its centre at 151 London Road!

Speech and language therapy professionals also hold regular sessions with children on site and external health and social care workers regularly meet with staff and parents in the building.

The site is some 500 square metres in size and the current building provides 270 square metres of floorspace. Originally a pair of Victorian cottages, a substantial flat roof extension to the rear was added in 1993 which provides the majority of the activity space.

A busy hub of activity for over 50 years, the current building is no longer fit for purpose. The fabric is outdated, its size puts limitations on the services that can be provided, and Grove Cottage is unable to meet current demand.

After much consideration, it was concluded that it would not be possible to accommodate Grove’s future activities in the existing building. It was therefore decided that a new approach was needed that provided a well-designed, purpose built building which would sit comfortably within its context without compromising its functionality for both existing and future users.

The proposals therefore propose a contemporary, red brick building with two separate entrances, one for the nursery and one for the activity for older children and adults. This ensures the proper safeguarding and security for the different building uses. To the south, the building opens to a new enlarged outdoor play area.