Shrewsbury Drapers’ Almshouses – Drapers Place

The Shrewsbury Drapers Company began life as a Guild in late medieval times. Trustees felt that there was a need in the area for further almshouse accommodation and they owned land adjacent to an older set of almshouses and felt that this could be used to double the number of dwellings they were able to offer to local people in need.

There were a number of design challenges for Drapers Place and the costs were high due to the need for flood prevention. The neighbourhood is part of the River Severn floodplain, resulting in the main building requiring to be raised by an additional level.  The site lies to the north of Shrewsbury Abbey within the Shrewsbury Town Centre Conservation Area. The significance of the Conservation Area is recognised as a heritage asset and it was vital that the proposals for this site complemented and enhanced the environs.

The project was to create a high quality development for elderly and vulnerable residents in this historic location on the outskirts of Shrewsbury town centre. The design was revised and refined during many months of consultation with the planning officers of Shropshire County Council together with the various consultees from other Shropshire departments and national bodies.

The design of the building is clear and logical for residents and visitors. Ramps lead from the parking level to the central main door. The entrance is in the middle of the building and is inviting and spacious. Internal corridor lengths are minimised making the building both disabled and dementia friendly.

Each apartment has plenty of natural light with large windows and a private balcony to be able to sit outside in fine weather. Kitchens are a very good size with excellent fixtures and fittings and all flats have good bathrooms with level access showers. Particular consideration has been given to the use and cost of energy, good ventilation and noise insulation between apartments.

There is access to frequent public transport nearby and Shrewsbury town centre with a range of shops, restaurants, social and leisure facilities is just a short walk away. There is a superstore and cinema complex within walking distance of the almshouses.

The building is arranged around a landscaped area and an important wildlife green corridor. Each floor has a communal sitting area and there is a Hobbies Room and a large community lounge. Each of the four wings has a different colour scheme to enable easy navigation around the building.

The building is easy to maintain and has used traditional materials and building techniques. It has been designed to be able to respond to changes and will be serving residents for a very long time.

The end result has been a very attractive building with good aspects and the eradication of the need for a large, potentially unsightly car park by utilising the space under the building as an under croft car park. The design has responded to the demands of its location and ensured that the historic context is respected. The views from the old town to the west are distinctive and have been preserved well.