Harlow’s new Lister House Health Centre, which includes a GP practice, dentist’s and pharmacy within a single building, has been awarded the highest accolade that can be given by Secured by Design (SBD), the national police crime prevention initiative.
The new centre was officially opened by Harlow MP Robert Halfon on Friday, 19 October.
The ceremony marked the climax of six years of partnership working between SBD and other partner organisations to design in crime prevention techniques into the physical security of the building and its layout and landscaping to make it a safe place for patients and visitors as well as health service practitioners.
Security measures that led to the building receiving SBD’s Gold Award include an integrated risk management and intruder alarm system for the whole building linked to an alarm receiving centre that is monitored 24/7 and security roller shutters on the front door to the communal entrance. These are measures that have been replicated with alarms and shutters protecting each of the three separate health facilities – each with its own staff access control systems.
All doors and windows and the curtain walling on the external façade are PAS 24 SBD compliant.
The immediate surrounding area has been landscaped to maximise natural surveillance with subtle planting and strategic use of CCTV, lighting and bollards to protect the 130 space car park – whilst respecting the planning authority’s requirements for interconnectivity with adjoining areas and cycle paths throughout the town. Special measures were taken to protect the health centre’s nitrogen gas canisters and waste bin storage.
Even the car park has been signed off by SBD for achieving Park Mark status, which recognises appropriate levels of surveillance, lighting, signage and cleanliness have all been achieved. The building has also achieved BREEAM ‘excellent’ status for sustainability.
Heather Gurden, Strategic Designing Out Crime Manager, with Essex Police, said all security measures were considered carefully to be commensurate with the risk to the building and to complement the overall architectural vision.
“The biggest thing for me has been working with partners who recognise the importance of building in security and then going further than you have done before. Whilst effective security is part and parcel of the development, it has been achieved with a genuine understanding of how patients, visitors and staff need to use the building and in a way that’s barely noticeable to members of the public.”
With its groundworks starting in September 2017 and its doors opening to the public for the first time on Friday, 5 October, 2018, the Lister House development is the biggest single health centre practice in West Essex with 20,000 plus patients – about a quarter of the town’s population – registered for medical services at the ten-doctor practice, which is also a training centre.
The centre was the work of the Harlow Health Centres Trust, which is a not-for-profit registered charity. The £7.5m development was part funded with a £5.7m financial package from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking and is the seventh health centre in the local area to be provided by the Trust and leased to GPs, dentists, pharmacists and other NHS services, which are supported separately by the NHS.
Unveiling the commemorate plaque at the front of the building, Robert Halfon MP, who is also Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, said the building was the result of many years of hard work by extraordinary individuals. “I think it may be so popular that the whole of Harlow will want to come here.”
Commenting on all the development going on in the town, the MP added: “This is part of the new Harlow for the 21st century.”
Harlow Health Centres Trust Chair, Derek Fenny, declared: “This is a state-of-the-art building and everyone I have spoken to say it’s a wonderful building.”
Carol Sizeland, Chief Executive Officer, Harlow Health Centres Trust, said: “We have taken the best of our work from our other health buildings and incorporated them into this building. I’m really happy. The time and effort was worth every minute.”
Dean Noble, Operations Manager with the Trust, explained that he used to install CCTV systems, which had come on in leaps and bounds over the years. “The cameras here can read a car number plate clearly from the furthest corner of the car park.”
The architect, Paul Young, of CAMM Architects, of Hertfordshire, said with a building like this you have to put yourself in the place of members of the public, especially those with limited mobility and consider how they can get from their vehicle and access all the facilities and move around the building.
“It’s been designed with full, open and easy access with lots of natural daylight, bright and open spaces and easy wayfinding. The result is a welcoming building and is as uplifting as possible. I wanted to make people feel better just walking into the building.”
The Lister House Health Centre was the result of a land swap with Harlow Council. The centre’s former site, which housed a combined medical centre and separate dental practice, is now boarded up and ready for demolition. The site has been earmarked for a development of apartments – all to be built to SBD crime prevention standards.
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