The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Success for Frome doctor’s surgery

Photo: Jeremy Gould

The Twentieth Century Society is delighted that plans are now underway to convert the threatened doctor’s surgery in Frome, Somerset, into a family home.

C20 Society caseworker Coco Whittaker said: “We strongly objected to proposals to demolish the building and by working closely with the original architects we were able to clearly show how the former surgery could be reused. We are delighted that the council rejected the original application and that this new scheme has come forward. This case shows that adaptive reuse is possible and should always be considered before demolition.”

Photo: Jeremy Gould

The Lock’s Hill Surgery was built between 1995 and 1996 to designs by the architects and writers Jeremy and Caroline Gould, and is featured in Pevsner’s Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol volume.

Blue Homes Ltd had originally submitted a planning application to demolish the surgery and build seven new homes. Frome Civic Society and Mendip District Council’s Assistant Conservation Officer had objected, along with many residents.

The surgery is a low building, set back from the road behind a stone wall. It is constructed of brick, concrete block and timber combined with a steel structure for the waiting room. The structural consultant was David Burns of Whitby & Bird. The building features a Staffordshire blue brick plinth and windows on the ground floor of the western elevation with precast concrete sills. External wall finishes include both white painted render and white Glasal (enamelled) fibreboard panels. It is topped by a large, pitched and sharp-edged grey slate roof which projects to the south to cover an open garage with a spiral staircase.

Photo: Jeremy Gould

The Goulds have designed creative, well-composed buildings which are sensitive to their environments, such as the Library and Resources Centre at Millfield School (1977-80) in Street. Lock’s Hill was one of a number of doctors’ surgeries built by the Goulds in the 1990s, the others located in Street, Crewkerne and Budleigh Salterton. The Goulds have also written extensively about modern architecture, and co-authored the critically-acclaimed Coventry: The Making of a Modern City 1939-73.

The Goulds said that although they were disappointed that the surgery was no longer required by the Health Authority, they were, of course, pleased that it will not now be demolished, adding that as a building designed to a human scale, it should make an interesting house without much reconfiguration.