Highly Commended – Thomas Christie Almshouse Charity, BedfordFounded by Thomas Christie, a 17th Century Bedford lawyer who built 8 small almshouses in the centre of Bedford in 1682. Between 1964 and 1968 Christie House was built as a semi-circular Queen Anne style building with 17 flats. In 2008 The Thomas Christie Charity merged with the John Crosse Charity which had property just outside Ampthill. This property was sold and the funds enabled Trustees to develop the plot of land adjacent to Christie House. John Crosse House is a brand new purpose built almshouse comprising eight flats for single or double occupancy plus one studio flat. There are three communal rooms, a large hall with adjacent kitchen, a quiet room and a rooftop garden. The flats were designed to be spacious, light and airy. Fitted kitchens have been provided and all have natural light. Bathrooms have been lined with plywood so that should the need arise for grabrails etc, these can be easily fitted. Level access showers have been included and doors to bathrooms can be opened both inwardly and outwardly – one of the recent features recommended by the Almshouse Association. Underfloor heating is provided and the building has solar panels. Stairwells are a feature of the building and huge windows in the hallways give a feeling of space. A roof garden has been provided where residents can sit out to enjoy good weather. The new hall is used by residents of both Thomas Christie House and John Crosse House and is much appreciated. The charity is in a Conservation Area and there were constraints placed on the design of the new building. There are many lime trees in the grounds which are the subject of TPOs. The design has attempted to reflect the scale and detail of the existing Victorian buildings in the adjoining road but also to blend in with the current 1960s Thomas Christie House. This project has taken many years to come to fruition and trustees have been determined and resolute in providing the best possible accommodation for the elderly in Bedford.