Following a cut in NHS funding, charity Richmond Fellowship’s The Old Moat Garden Centre in Epsom needed to become 100% funded by its commercial activities to continue to offer the opportunity to gain qualifications and work experience in horticulture, catering and retail to people living with mental health problems.
Newspan’s plans for a new 184sq m building were incorporated into Architecture for Humanity’s visionary pro-bono plan for the whole site, which enabled The Old Moat to double the area in use.
The new building was delivered in a tight schedule of a little over three weeks. Features such as the timber cladding to the front elevation and porch gable triangle lend a softer appearance that didn’t frighten the planners. Fixed roof lights and automatic roof vents let in natural light and help keep the environment temperate in all conditions. Once built, the shop was linked to the existing glasshouse, which had managed to remained open to customers throughout Newspan’s work.
The Old Moat’s Garden Centre Manager, Jonathan Glinos, said: “The new building is now our main entrance, shop and office. The entrance and shop were previously both in our café; we can stock a much wider range of gifts and houseplants in the shop now, as well using the space vacated in the café to seat more customers.
“Although we stayed open throughout, the remodelled and fitted out garden centre was fully operational, on time and on budget, in time for important Christmas season trading.
“Turnover since November 2017 has increased dramatically – 12% in January and 62% in February, in a spring that has been a challenge weather-wise! With more customers visiting, as well as wider ranges and an improved customer flow around the garden centre contributing towards higher sales, the enlarged gift area in particular is really starting to pay off.
“Everyone – from our Trustees to volunteers and staff to customers – has been incredibly impressed with the redevelopment, with the new building creating just the right welcome to The Old Moat’s new future.”