Drapers Place is an ambitious project by the volunteers on the Board of Shrewsbury Drapers Holy Cross Ltd backed by the members of the long-established guild, Shrewsbury Drapers Company.
Drapers Place is being built on a secure site, away from the main road and next to a Bowling Club, with landscaped lawns and planting.
The 21 single bedroom and 4 two bedroom flats are designed to the latest Government standards. All the 25 main bedrooms are large enough for a double bed or two singles for double occupancy. The second bedrooms are smaller but could be used for a resident carer. Turning circles for wheelchairs within all the rooms are planned as well as a lift for access to the upper floor. All flats have separate bathroom, living room and kitchen. Small balconies will allow residents to sit and admire the view. There are two communal lounges and a hobbies room for residents. In addition, the Bradbury suite has a kitchenette and sufficient space for meetings or functions for around 50 people. The latter facility is available for hire by local organisations or individuals.
- 21 one-bedroom and 4 two bedroom apartments
- both for single or double occupancy
- all with separate living area, kitchen and bathroom
- with wheelchair access
- with lift to upper floor
- with personal alarm system
In addition for the residents, there will be two dayroom areas and a hobbies room and a few car parking spaces.
There is also the Bradbury Suite for outside organisations as well as the residents which will have kitchen facilities for around 50 people.
Drapers Place is within easy walking distance of local amenities and the town. There are buses close by.
Some personal reflections by the (volunteer) Clerk and member of the Guild, as well as being Company Secretary, director and trustee of Shrewsbury Drapers Holy Cross Ltd.
I was appointed Clerk more than 10 years ago, some years after a joint committee of the Shrewsbury Drapers Company and trustees of Hospital of the Holy Cross had been set up to begin planning for this new build. This gives some idea of how long it has taken for a group of volunteers to overcome all the obstacles and reach the building stage now in 2015. It is also worth reflecting that the trustees of a charity have unlimited financial liability unless an appropriate limited company is set up.
In the late 1950's, the Guild was a small group of trustees looking after the Hall (let to a private tenant) and Victorian almshouses in the middle of town opposite St Mary's Church, all of which, especially the Hall, needed some renovation. In the ensuing years, the almshouses were rebuilt in Longden Coleham as 16 studio flats with a Warden's bungalow, (Fairford Place), and the Charities Commission asked the Drapers to take over the Hospital of St Giles (which was rebuilt as four one-bedroom bungalows), leading to 20 units. The Guild was reconstituted and the membership enlarged, and the Hall was renovated as described elsewhere in this website (click here).
Move on to 2000 and beyond.
The Almshouse Association recommended that we would need to manage at least 50 Almshouses to remain viable for the long term. After much searching for suitable development sites, the Trustees of the Hospital of the Holy Cross offered us their 5 Almshouses plus endowed land. On the recommendation of the Charity Commission, the registered company/charity, Shrewsbury Drapers Holy Cross Ltd, was set up to manage a project to build additional Almshouses on the site. All the directors of the company are members of the Guild. Planning permission took quite some time to achieve and attention turned to fund raising. A blow was delivered very soon after the handover when it was discovered that the elaborate chimneys on the Holy Cross building were unsafe. All the reserves were used up and there are still two chimneys to rebuild.
By a happy coincidence, the adjacent ex-Farr and Harris site was bought by Morris Properties. It resulted in that site and the Drapers site being redeveloped in tandem, Glebe House for Severnside and a redesigned Drapers Place with access to Horsefair.
Before the building phase could start, the funding had to be in place for the £3.3m programme. At every twist and turn yet another obstacle seemed to be in our path. We received a number of very generous donations. But in the end, we needed financial support from Shropshire Council which they kindly produced and also, in particular, Government funding from Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). For the latter we needed to become a registered provider of social housing and find an avenue for the funds to be paid to us. This took almost two years to achieve. In essence the problem was that to receive Government funding, the equality and diversity policy must allow anyone eligible for social housing to apply but charities have very restrictive governing documents. We were intending to build on permanently endowed land available for housing only single ladies of Protestant faith. In addition, permanently endowed land and buildings cannot be owned by the limited company which we had been advised to set up. The new building will become a permanent endowment. After high level discussions in Taunton and London involving the Charity Commission, HCA and the National Association of Almshouses, all our almshouses including the other two trusts were combined into a new linked/subsidiary trust, Shrewsbury Drapers Company Charity, which could receive the large grant from HCA and a mortgage of just under £1m from Charity Bank. This linked charity has Shrewsbury Drapers Holy Cross Ltd as the single corporate trustee which is managing the build.
All I can add is that it has taken dogged determination and persistence by a totally committed body of volunteers, some who have come and gone over the years, but all of whom were/are busy people who have worked well together. Why did we bother? As a Guild, we have been running almshouses since 1444, we can offer a personal service to our residents, we needed accommodation fit for the present and on into the future and we needed to double the number of units to generate sufficient income to continue employing a Warden and hopefully a part-time employee who can navigate us through all the paperwork required for looking after vulnerable adults. All the evidence suggests that demand for our accommodation will continue. It has been worth it!
Drapers Place is nearing completion and one and two bedroom apartments will be ready for occupation from November 2016
Suitable for either single people or couples of pensionable age. Close to shops etc and with a Warden on call
The Weekly Maintenance Contribution (WMC or Rent) will be £87 to £109
If you wish to register interest or apply contact the Chairman, The Lodge, Fairford Place Longden Coleham, SY3 7DL, Telephone 01743 344886 or (click here)
What our residents say
This is my last little home on earth. I feel so content, safe, cared for and secure. I am so happy it was the best move I ever made.
The Warden is like a guardian angel to us all, advising us, updating us on new safety rules etc. She is truly loved by us all.