Haworth Tompkins has won consent to convert the sprawling Postmodern Grade II* listed Legal & General House in Surrey into retirement homes
Reigate & Banstead Borough Council’s Planning Committee approved the practice’s proposals to create up to 280 assisted living units within and around the empty 25,000m2 building in Kingswood.
The building, originally designed by Arup Associates and completed in 1991, served as headquarters for the insurance giant for a quarter of a century and was listed in 2017 as the firm moved out. Historic England said the building combined ‘abstracted Classical vocabulary with traditional materials and High-Tech elements’.
It is designed as a figure of eight in plan, focused around two internal landscaped courtyards, a central rotunda and a staff swimming pool.
Haworth Tompkins will refurbish and convert the structure to provide 130 assisted living homes for the elderly. It will also create 19 further units from a rework of locally listed Edwardian era St Monica’s House on the site and another 131 within apartments and villas to be built on the car park.
The development will feature a wellness centre including a swimming pool, studio, gym and tennis courts; dining and recreation facilities; a small business centre; and a children’s nursery.
The £215 million scheme is being undertaken by Legal & General through its Inspired Villages later-living business.
Haworth Tompkins’ proposals were last year described by the Design South East Review Panel as ‘an elegant response’ to the existing Legal & General House and surrounding landscape. The panel added that the new development was ‘sympathetic to the context’.
Historic England backed the scheme but the Twentieth Century Society raised a number of concerns and said it was ‘unconvinced’ that the changes would sustain the building’s historic significance.
Although the construction work will take place within the green belt, councillors ruled that this was justified by the scheme injecting new life into the listed building.
Legal & General chief executive of later living Phil Bayliss said the firm was looking to address a ‘chronic shortfall’ in supply of housing for the elderly.
‘Covid-19 is already putting the care sector under extreme pressure, but by investing through and beyond the immediate crisis we believe that we can help to address the issue of future demand on the system – helping people to live in good health for longer,’ he said.
Construction could start later this year and be completed in 2026.