Orchard Yard, Kent

Situated between Canterbury and Sandwich, Wingham is a picturesque and historic village in rural East Kent blessed with almost 100 listed buildings. Among them is Wingham Court, a Grade II listed timber-framed manor house dating back to the 15th Century.

Today, the beautiful walled garden of Wingham Court has been sympathetically transformed by Cognatum and designers Kent Design Studio into Orchard Yard, an exclusive development of 15 luxurious homes designed for retirement living for the over 55s.

The concept behind Orchard Yard is rooted in both history and community, with the original features of the landscape being carefully reshaped and enhanced to create a series of areas for communal living. At the heart of things is the clubhouse, a social space and activity centre whose doors open onto an open terraced dining area. There is also the Guest Lodge, available for family and friends to hire, that faces onto the development’s shared gardens, where residents can enjoy the wildlife or exercise their green-fingered skills.

The nine houses and six apartments that make up Orchard Yard fit comfortably into their naturalistic setting, with larch cladding augmenting the brick elevations and slate or clay tile roofs. The slim-profile double-glazed timber windows, which are powder-coated and aluminium-clad, are an example of how the architectural design delivers in terms of both form and function.

Harwood was selected to provide Building Control services for this impressive project, with work on the development beginning in the second half of 2019. Because of the leafy nature of the site, work in the early stages focused on any possible issues with adjacent trees, but the pile foundations and reinforced beams of the concrete superstructure ultimately did not present any issues.

Underpinning was required on the farm buildings that formed part of the original agricultural site. Harwood’s expert team, therefore, had to verify that the foundations were compliant with Building Regulations, ensuring that the structures had the necessary stability to support their new function within the Orchard Yard development.

While these elements passed without problems, difficulties did arrive in February, however, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. As with construction projects right across the country, Orchard Yard had to navigate the various unexpected obstacles brought on by lockdown, including social distancing, the availability of certain materials and a shift to homeworking for those in roles where it was possible.

Throughout this period, Harwood maintained a consistent presence as the Building Control authority, responding with speed and professionalism to the many queries from stakeholders involved in the project.

One area of particular focus was fire safety, given the inclusion of charred larch cladding on the six apartments to provide the visually striking black façade. This generated a number of important questions around fire-stopping and flame-spreading, with emphasis on the qualities of the timber and its position within the building design.

Harwood helped resolve these matters in full, ensuring that the design and materials fully satisfied the fire safety precautions stipulated with the Building Regulations and outlined in Approved Document B. Senior Project Manager Vic Datlen says resolving critical issues such as this is always reliant on clear and open communication, working closely with architect, contractor and client partners, and providing comprehensive answers as required.

Harwood’s involvement with Orchard Yard was completed on schedule in May 2021, leaving the site to welcome the first of its residents, who moved in a matter of months later.

The development has subsequently attracted external recognition at the prestigious International Property Awards. An independent panel of over 80 industry experts evaluated the design on the criteria of design, quality, service, innovation, originality and commitment to sustainability, awarding Orchard Yard with the exclusive five-star winner status in both the ‘Best Architecture Multiple Residence South East’ and ‘Best Residential Development Kent’ categories.

Vic Datlen concludes: “We’re proud to have been a part of this project, which has instantly embedded itself within the beautiful surroundings of Wingham Court. While there were no major obstacles to overcome in terms of Building Regulations, there were plenty of sensitivities to manage throughout, which reinforces the importance of delivering a swift and continual flow of information to smooth the project’s development.

“It’s not only about ensuring the development conforms to the building standards that will keep residents safe, but also about enabling the design vision to be realised and avoiding the costly risk that remedial action might need to be taken at a later date to enforce compliance.”

David Woodward, Harwood’s CEO, adds: “We are delighted to have been involved in this award-winning project, which has been developed in a way that is sympathetic to the surrounding Conservation Area, as well as creating an area for residents to have access to their own private space whilst enjoying a sense of community.”

For more information about Harwood and how our building control inspection services can add value to your projects, get in touch with our team today on +44 (0)1227 931 777 or email



If you are looking to mitigate risks in terms of delays or unexpected costs, the experience of Harwood Approved Inspectors ensures buildings are safe for their users by identifying non-compliant features and working with design teams and contractors so they can create real-world solutions to construction challenges.  With its Head Office in Kent, Harwood provides Approved Inspector building control services for commercial construction projects across England and Wales.  Our highly professional yet approachable approach and pragmatic attitude ensures the details that matter are taken care of.

Need help with a project

Contact our team today for a quote