• Architecture
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Housing

The Courtyards, Dovedale Avenue,



Project Details:

Putting each principle of the HAPPI report into practice to provide 60 independent living homes for affordable rent and communal facilities for people over the age of 55 with varying care needs.

Client: Community Gateway Association

Construction Value: £9m

Completion: 2021

Location: Preston


  • Northern Housing Awards 2022, Supported/Sheltered Housing Scheme of the Year: Winner
  • Housing Design Awards 2022, Completed: Shortlisted
  • Northern Design Awards 2022, Best Residential Development: Finalist

Images: Tom Biddle

Housing for older people
Social value
Post-occupancy evaluation
Dual aspect homes
Enhanced biodiversity
Enhanced public realm
Health and wellbeing
New homes
Access for all
Low energy use

Where we started

The Courtyards is an extra care housing scheme in Preston that we designed for Community Gateway Association, a community-led organisation that empowers residents and local people to shape its services and improve their homes.

Inspired by our previous guiding role in the HAPPI Report, we integrated all ten best practice principles to lead this project, from concept to completion, to ensure the residents’ wellbeing and care needs are met in a welcoming environment. The development sets a new benchmark for high-quality homes that provide a sense of community, while offering a range of amenities to cater for residents’ particular requirements.

To help combat loneliness often experienced in older populations, we have created opportunities for conversation and connection

Both courtyards act as spacious outdoor rooms and serve multiple purposes as somewhere to socialise, exercise and relax

60 apartments, split into 40 two-bed and 20 one-bed homes, are arranged around two landscaped courtyards and set within existing mature trees, affording all residents a strong connection to nature. The external space serves multiple purposes as a place to gather, exercise and relax by including gym equipment, a variety of seating options, raised planting beds and a gently rippling water feature.

Apartments are available for affordable rent, intended for older people with varying care needs

This flagship project underpins our commitment to tackling social isolation. But what matters is ‘does it work for the people who call it home?’ – the answer is an emphatic yes. One resident told me ‘I feel like every day is a holiday’, another said ‘I cried tears of joy when I moved here’.

Rob Wakefield, Chief Executive, Community Gateway Association


A striking black barn sits between the courtyards and provides a focus for communal living, containing offices, activity room, hair and beauty salon, laundry, lounge/games room and medical treatment rooms. This centralised provision contributes hugely to social life at the development, especially the bistro, which can cater for internal events as well as act as a function space for local people.

The central courtyard provides a year round visual and physical connection with the outdoors and opportunity for a diverse range of resident activities

Ground floor plan

First floor plan

The bistro provides food to residents and visitors and links to flexible rooms used for local community events such as parent and baby groups

Our goal was to promote communality in the residential areas. This was reflected in numerous design decisions, such as balconies that look over the courtyards and walking routes, and kitchen windows that face onto walkways so that neighbours see each other while passing by. Seating in the corridors is well-used and supports a convivial atmosphere, while helping to tackle loneliness.

Resident terraces provide private amenity space that is partially screened by planting but offers easy access to community facilities

It has been hugely rewarding to speak to residents and hear that our design concept – to create spaces that maintain independence but also foster community – has been such a huge success.

Gillian Harrison, Senior Associate

Upon completion, we organised a party with residents and staff to celebrate the opening and gather feedback from those who live and work there

All homes are designed to HAPPI principles including being dual aspect and fully accessible for mobility scooters and wheelchairs

Generous corridors allow ease of movement through the scheme for all residents, particularly those with mobility issues

The courtyard is an active focal point for the scheme and features pergolas, a central lawn and raised planting beds

Each apartment is spacious enough to suit the needs of residents who use a wheelchair or scooter and could be adapted to provide a full range of supporting equipment. Generous natural light and cross ventilation is possible thanks to each apartment being dual-aspect, promoting health and wellbeing within homes, as well as in the more public areas.

The Courtyards is a real success story in Preston, with a track record of working with local people. Places like this are desperately needed in the community.

Councillor Javed Iqbal, Mayor of Preston

Core team

Irene Craik


Victoria Turner


Gillian Harrison

Senior Associate

Simon Abbott


David Magill


Robert French

Project Architect