CHS Life Skills Centre


Chailey Heritage Foundation

Contract Sum:

£2,600,000 (2013)


The Life Skills Centre provides a transition service for young adults between the ages of 19-25, where they can use the facilities offered in a safe and secure environment. The project provides a number of facilities including a SPA, Gym, Pedicure Room, Home-Skills area, ICT Suite, Arts and Crafts Room and a Sun-Lounge. All areas are accessible and provided with state of the art equipment for use by visitors to the building. A Café and meeting area was also provided to serve the young adults, parents and general public. In addition to front of house spaces a number of administrative spaces along with two bedsits for visiting parents are accommodated within the buildings.

The building was formally known as the Old House and was listed for its historical importance as both a purpose built Poor House and as the origins of Chailey Heritage. Created by Grace Kimmins, the Chailey Heritage Foundation has become one of country’s leading lights in the care and nurture of severely and multiply disabled young people and young adults. The many previous uses of the old building had created a labyrinth of awkward and inaccessible spaces with different floor levels and low ceiling heights. Consequently this rendered the old building unusable for the needs of the Foundation and the wider community which lead to its redundant use and vulnerable condition.

The adopted design resulted in the retention of the original building frontage and key internal spaces, whilst extensive internal alterations create a flexible and dynamic asset. Externally the approach was to retain the basic character and appearance of the existing buildings on the principal North and East elevations. Historically insignificant and unsightly extensions were removed and replaced with modern additions to the courtyard areas. It was considered important that the new additions were identifiable to the phases that have gone before. Any new architecture was proposed in a lightweight contemporary manner to produce a contrast and a foil to the historic fabric of the existing buildings.

The building was highly commended in the Sussex Heritage Trust Awards.

Photo Credit: Jim Stephenson

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