Frequently Asked Questions

Why did we re-develope the site at Rushbrook?

Devon County Council used to deliver day services for people with learning disabilities from the Totnes area from The Boat Shed on Steamer Quay and Parkers Barn. Some people have profound multiple disabilities and neither site now provides the appropriate environment or space to fully meet the needs of service users and their carers.

Developing our existing site at Rushbrook provided us with the opportunity to meet the needs of these service users and others who have physical and/or sensory disabilities, and provided a centrally located, easily accessible base for a wide range of community services.

What services are operating from the site?

The Centre is used by a number of organisations.  This includes adults with learning disabilities, physical and sensory impairments and their carers; young people and community groups.

There is also be a Changing Place facility on site.

What is the Changing Place facility?

Changing Places facilities are part of a national scheme designed to help people (including those with profound and multiple learning disabilities and their carers) enjoy the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted by providing accessible toilet, shower and changing facilities in a central location. Changing Places facilities have enough space and the right equipment, including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist.

Why wasn’t the existing building reused?

We undertook an appraisal of existing buildings on the site and their configuration. As a result, and due to the construction type, it was considered unsuitable and uneconomic for re-development to achieve the desired environment for the change of use.

What happened to materials from the existing building?

Materials from the demolition phase have been recycled, resulting in over 80% of all glass, timber and masonry from the original building being recycled for use within relevant production industries.

Why is it called Rushbrook?

Thanks to everyone who suggested a name for the new building. We received lots of ideas based on local knowledge and history, and on the use of the site. It was felt that as Rushbrook is so well known, it would be best to keep the name – so Rushbrook – A Devon Centre was agreed.

Was there consultation on the works?

Yes. In addition to the pre-planning application consultation undertaken, the District and Town Council were consulted as part of the statutory planning process. Letters were sent to immediate neighbours, planning documents posted on the County Council’s website, and notices placed on site to advise passers-by of the planning proposal.

What happened to the trees?

An appraisal was completed of existing trees located on the site. This information was used when considering the best use of landscaping for the proposed development. Further assessment was undertaken by a qualified Tree Consultant, including full consultation with the Local Planning Authority and the Tree Officer at South Hams District Council.

Landscaping formed part of the planning application documents. This identified planting proposals as part of the future development and any mitigation required for loss of existing vegetation, and identified any on-going maintenance requirements.

The enhancement of wildlife was considered throughout the planning process in order to meet our conservation duty as set out in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006

The tall trees were removed to allow re-planting with the local native species. The wood from the trees was put to good use locally and used as part of a community project to create some wooden furniture to be displayed at the Centre. To find out more please email

Is the new building sustainable and energy efficient?

Throughout the design process the emphasis has been on providing a highly insulated thermal envelope to minimise energy consumption. The building is designed to have a lower environmental impact than required by current Building Regulations, with an aim of achieving a Display Energy Certificate B rating in use.

Sustainable technologies are incorporated within the building, including an array of Photo Voltaic (PV) panels on the roof and LED lighting throughout.

Is the hospital next door affected?

The hospital was consulted regarding the proposed development through initial design stages. Communication will continue as part of future design development and subsequent site phases to prevent unnecessary disruption to the hospital and surrounding community.

No, the existing first floor corridor link to the hospital was removed as part of the demolition phase.

Will there be more traffic?

There is a new site entrance to the Rushbrook Centre. This was decided after further consultation with the Local Planning Authority and Highways Officers as part of the design development. It is considered that there will be no adverse affect on existing traffic flows.

To continue our commitment o promoting sustainable travel, the development incorporates measures to enable alternative means of travel for staff and users of the site such as cycle storage and links to public transport.

Will the Centre just be used by young people from Totnes?

We anticipate that the Rushbrook Centre will primarily be used by those young people who currently use our service at the Mansion. This includes young people from Totnes and the surrounding area, and we hope that more young people will make the most of the Hub’s new facilities too.

What times will young people use the Centre?

Opening hours for the Rushbrook Centre have yet to be decided but at present young people mainly use our services after school, in the evenings (finishing by 9.30pm), and some weekends.

What facilities are there on site for young people?

The Rushbrook Centre includes the standard facilities for young people but in a new building with more suitable furnishings, design and décor. The facilities/groups provided will be matched to young people’s needs, which can change over a period of time. This can range from sport or music activities, to support with health matters or personal issues.

How will anti-social behaviour be handled?

Our youth workers and volunteers are well trained and we will work very closely with young people using our facilities to minimise anti-social behaviour. However, if concerns are raised we will deal with them immediately and take action as appropriate to the situation.

How were future service users consulted?

We spoke to people who use our learning disability services in Totnes as well as their families, and with staff. We let them know of our concerns about them providing high quality services from our current environment, and asked for their views and thoughts about options for the future. Service users who were able to comment and their families told us they were pleased with the option to redevelop Rushbrook and have a dedicated single service in Totnes.

We have developed a number of similar centres across Devon for use by young people and used this experience to inform the use of the Rushbrook Centre in Totnes and listened to young people about which activities and services they would like there.

How can we keep in touch with what’s happening?

Latest news and information will be updated on these webpages and we will ensure we keep you informed through direct communication as appropriate. If you have any questions or queries please email