RSPCA Newbrook Farm


Frankley Green, Birmingham


39,000 sq.ft


After acquiring a redundant rare breeds animal farm at Frankley, Birmingham, for relocation, the RSPCA required designs for new accommodation that incorporated both animal rehoming facilities and hospital facilities together on one site. Working closely with the RSPCA, end users, and the local planning authority the scheme was successfully approved for detailed planning permission, dealing with sensitive greenbelt and sustainability issues relating to the site.

Completed in October 2012, a number of green sustainable technologies were incorporated into the design whilst managing the benefits and costs incorporated throughout the project to help deliver a successful project for the client’s needs.

Gould Singleton Architects were appointed in 2007 to assist and advise the RSPCA on proposals for the relocation of the Birmingham Animal Centre to a new site on the outskirts of Birmingham.

New Animal Re-homing Centre and Animal Hospital

Situated in Barnes Hill for 60 years, facilities at the Birmingham site had become outdated and too costly to maintain and were located in an urban area of Birmingham with no room for expansion or growth. The RSPCA were keen to find a new site for the animals in the countryside which would have minimal impact on neighbours and the environment.

Gould Singleton prepared feasibility plans and undertook research and consultation with the local authority on the 75 acre site identified at Frankley Green whilst in close consultation with the RSPCA on their requirements for the new site. The scheme was developed to the planning stage to incorporate protected species surveys for bats and badgers, existing condition surveys of the farm buildings, and enquiries of statutory suppliers for services.

Planning approval in the green belt was achieved from Bromsgrove District Council which included reuse of the existing farm house and barns carefully retaining the character and appearance of the original farm. Gould Singleton successfully negotiated with the planners for the reuse of the existing site and development of new buildings within the footprint of the old farm buildings.

From a planning use of the site – the whole premise was to reuse as much of the existing buildings available for conversion minimising the loss of the original features to the site – the U shape barn and garage building and the 4 houses have been retained being the most sustainable form of redevelopment and favourably supported at planning.

Further research was undertaken into incorporating sustainable technologies for the site for solar thermal heating, photovoltaics, rainwater harvesting and air source heat pumps, and modern BMS Systems to monitor the performance of engineered services, all of which were incorporated into the final design.

The project comprised of 39 dog kennels, 80 pods housing for 160 cats, accommodation for rabbits, ferrets and small animals, Animal Hospital veterinary services and isolation facilities, staff and manager accommodation.

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Specific problems of the rural site required the introduction of a packaged pumped treatment plant, fire fighting water storage, and a new electricity substation with standby emergency power generation. The scheme also included for protection of the water supply conduit beneath the site, running from Mid-Wales to Frankley Reservoir. Agreements were required with Western Power, Severn Trent Water and the Environment Agency before works were allowed to commence on site.

The requirements for the RSPCA were to provide a scheme that incorporated both the rehoming facilities and hospital facilities together on one site to form the largest Animal Centre in England/Wales with modern up to standard accommodation to replace and outlast the original site at Barnes Hill.

The works were undertaken in three phases. Phase 1 consisted of refurbishment of the 4 houses to enable occupation of the site and security. Phase 2 enabling works consisted of demolition works to the original cattle sheds and reroofing works to the retained structures. Phase 3 was the full construction of the new re-homing centre and animal hospital which completed in October 2012.

Works to the roofs were undertaken under a Bat Licence to Natural England’s Approval with supervision by a licensed bat worker.

Works were undertaken under the JCT Standard Form of Contract with Gould Singleton acting as Project Architect and Contract Administrator and completed within an overall period of construction activity spanning 3 years. The overall value of the building works totalled £8million.


Take a Look

Key Features

  • Air source heat pumps and re-circulating heat recovery on the ventilation to the kennels and cattery and the hospital providing heating and comfort cooling.
  • Under-floor heating with solar thermal panels on the south facing roofs for maximising saving on energy from natural resources.
  • Monitored Building Management System BMS and displays in reception. The BMS enables optimum settings for controls and operation of heating and hot water.
  • A-rated boilers and heating systems as hot water supply.
  • Low Energy lighting throughout using automatic sensor switching for controls and LED lighting in key areas.
  • Full door entry control for access and security and zoning.
  • Soft planting with new shrubs and trees for the structure of the site
  • Drainage through a Biobubble Aerated Sewage treatment plant before discharge to EA approval
  • BAT protection measures through a Natural England Licence and other protected species surveyed.
  • New Sub-station for power to delivery new electric power to the site.
  • Optimum outward looking layout for dogs and cats for good outlook and avoids overlooking for peaceful environment
  • 2 storey Cattery to maximise animal accommodation on the site.
  • New LPG installations for heating and hot water
  • Temporary Generator for back up in the event of loss of mains power
  • Boosted water supply and renewed mains through the site.
  • Rainwater harvesting for recycling of water on site.
  • Farmland retained for grazing and agricultural use
  • Low maintenance materials specified
  • New Insulation standards increased on existing buildings above minimum standards.