How it was chosen

South elevation of Stanford Hall

South elevation of Stanford Hall

The strategic decision to seek a site for the DNRC in the Midlands was to ensure that it would well placed in relation to the new military facility in the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, and easily accessible by the armed forces and their families from across the UK.

The existing Headley Court site is a small country estate in Surrey close to Epsom.  The new site had to be considerably larger in order to provide for both the new Defence establishment and national facilities.  It also needed to provide a tranquil landscape setting to support the holistic healing processes of rehabilitation, whilst being sufficiently close to an urban centre to ensure that patients did not feel remote.

An initial site search produced a list of approximately 60 sites, of which 12 were selected for further evaluation.  On the basis of this evaluation, a short list of 4 potential sites was selected.  Two of these sites were subsequently selected for very detailed consideration, alongside the existing site at Headley Court.

The potential of these sites was considered principally in terms of:

  • Within one hour’s off-peak travelling time from the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at new Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
  • Within 30 minutes of the national motorway network.
  • Within 30 minutes of the national rail network.
  • Possessing suitable access to allow a DNRC to benefit to the full from modern logistics and efficiencies.
  • A tranquil environment.
  • A rural but not remote setting.
  • A significant water feature.
  • A site area significantly larger than Headley Court (33 hectares) in order to be able to combine Defence and national facilities on the same site – up to 4 times the size was thought to be a useful guide.
  • Predominantly level ground with areas that would be suitable for the construction of running/walking tracks and other outdoors training facilities.
  • The potential to establish secure boundary.
  • The existence of utilities infrastructure capable of being upgraded.

A scoring exercise was undertaken which was scrutinized by an appropriately constituted Judgement Panel.  Stanford Hall scored the highest and met the full range of criteria to a remarkable degree and was subsequently chosen by the Project Board as the ideal site.