The Children’s Country House at Sudbury offers a fun educational experience for children and their families. Offering brilliant gardens, a museum highlighting the history of childhood, and the Hall, this attraction is a much-loved location in the Derbyshire countryside.
Driven by the National Trust’s strategy “for everyone, for ever,” the Children’s Country House team have been working diligently to enhance accessibility at their property for years. Central to their recent plans has been the adaptation of an existing space into a new Changing Places facility and sensory room. However, permission had to first be sought from the local authority to allow building works to commence within such a historic property.
Our first task was to obtain listed building consent. So, we submitted and managed a planning application, which included details of how proposed works would minimize any impact on the existing building fabric. Permission was quickly granted in October 2021.
The project was funded in part by Derbyshire Council, as part of the government’s broader £30m Changing Places initiative, and our team set to work in June 2022 — completing all works within a six-week period.
The Sudbury team had a goal to create an inclusive hub at the heart of their property by installing a Changing Places toilet and adjacent sensory room. RISE delivered both, covering every aspect of the installation, from the initial framing out of the rooms to the plumbing, electrics, and installation of all specialist equipment.
The new Changing Places features premium materials throughout and includes a height-adjustable changing bench, basin, and ceiling track hoist system, as well as graphic feature wall and all other fixtures required to fully register the facility. The smaller sensory room features a host of specialist lighting and audio equipment to calm and engage neurodiverse visitors.
The Sudbury team’s vision and commitment to enhance accessibility in such a comprehensive way made this project a pleasure to work on. More importantly, they were delighted with the process and end result, as Thomas Bamforth, Programming & Partnerships Manager at The Children’s Country House, explains:
“The RISE team have provided so much more than an installation service. Since our initial meeting, communication has been clear and their turnkey service has covered every aspect of this project from initial consultancy and design to planning permission, the build itself, and aftercare.”
The combination of installing both a Changing Places and sensory room is currently a rare occurrence at most attractions, though it signifies the Trust’s ethos to provide access for everyone, as Thom concludes:
“The National Trust is for everyone, and we want to make it easy for all visitors to enjoy the places we care for. The new hub at Sudbury is a great example of this — it’s inclusive, high quality, and something that we’re extremely proud of.”
Working as principal contractor, we provided the following scope of works:
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