Wilberforce Trust Awarded Planning for State of the Art Housing

York Charity, The Wilberforce Trust Awarded Planning for State of the Art Housing

Visionary members, The Wilberforce Trust, have got a nod of approval to build new state of the art housing for their current and future tenants in York. City of York councillors approved the Wilberforce Trust’s plan to build 30 new flats on land it owns off Tadcaster Road, next to St Leonard’s Hospice.

The image above shows an architect’s impression of the new build, and its surroundings. There is a driveway, with parked cars, hedgerows and trees plus the new state of the art flats and landscape beyond.

The York-based charity currently has properties across the city which it runs as shared houses for people with sight loss, hearing loss and other disabilities. Those properties are not up to modern standards and trust Chief Executive Phillipa Crowther says they are increasingly hard to adapt: “Current housing is not purpose built and over the last 14 years, despite regular investment by ourselves and City of York Council in continued adaptations, they present numerous challenges.”

Instead, the trust wants to build 30 state-of-the-art new flats which would help people live independently. The new housing is being built close to St Leonard’s Hospice and will come with facilities including a sensory garden and cafe that would be shared with the hospice.

Originally established as a school for the blind in the 1800s, Wilberforce Trust has adapted itself throughout the years to support people living with sight loss, hearing loss and other disabilities across York. The new build is the start of an exciting development for the Trust and is the first of its kind in York.

Member to member top tips:

Phillipa Crowther, CEO at Wilberforce gives some useful advice for members when applying for planning permission on large build projects.

  • Vision- be clear and concise about what you want to achieve and why. It’s easier to share the message with others whose support you will need along the way.
  • Agree a long-term plan and stick with it but be prepared to be flexible. Significant developments such as this take time. You will need to be patient to get the end result you are looking for.
  • Do your homework – planning permission can be notoriously hard to get, especially when your land is within the green belt.
  • Get experts involved from the start – with the right kind of help from planners and architects from the outset you’ll be aware of the potential hazards ahead and better able to negotiate them.
  • Make sure you get the buy-in of everyone concerned. Effective consultation makes everyone feel involved with the project and helps them to share the vision.
  • Be resilient – when plans change don’t be tempted to give up, just take a deep breath and find another way forward.

Organisation profile

Organisation: Wilberforce Trust


CEO: Philippa Crowther

Number of staff: 83

Funding: 90% contract-based 10% donation-based

Services: Community Hub, Community outreach mobile unit, Community outreach IT service, Low Vision Clinic, Connect Café, Sensory service, Clubs and activities, Supported Living

Reach: York

Number of VI individuals in region: 6,700

Supporting on average: 850

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