Planning Application Lodged for Specialist Support Centre in Aberdeen

A local children’s charity has lodged a joint planning application with NHS Grampian for a specialist support centre to be built on the grounds of Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen.

The charity, which supports babies, children and young people with complex disabilities and life-limiting conditions plans to build an 8-bedroom centre, with additional family accommodation, set in 4 acres of ground. The state-of-the-art building will feature a sensory room, library, spa pool, craft room, teen den, soft play area, therapy room, star room, for end-of-life care & bereavement, outdoor play area and sensory gardens as well as adaptable meeting space and office space for the Charlie House team and medical staff.


Tracy Johnstone, project visionary and Chair for Charlie House, says, “The long-term vision and dream for the charity has always been to have a purpose-built centre in Aberdeen to provide planned and emergency short breaks, palliative and end-of-life care for children, as sadly North-east families currently have to travel over 100 miles to Kinross to access this type of service. This project has always been about offering the families we support choice. Choice as to where their child is cared for and in what type of environment. The Charlie House team and our expert ‘Big Build’ team have now finalised the plans to turn this dream into a reality.”

Tracy continues, “The state-of-the-art specialist support centre will be the first of its kind in the region to offer these support services to the people of the North-east of Scotland encompassing the Highlands, Orkney and Shetland. The centre will be a wonderful welcoming and inclusive environment where the emphasis is on making memories. From making keepsakes and memory boxes in the craft room to enjoying time together as a family in the spacious sensory garden, Charlie House will be where precious memories are made and treasured for years to come. It will be such a special and essential building in the Aberdeen landscape and as a region we should be proud to welcome this.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank NHS Grampian, our Big Build team, the families we support as we all strive for the same final end goal, the dedicated Charlie House team and our amazing corporate partners, fundraisers and supporters across the North-east. We could not get to this stage without all of their support.”

Professor Nick Fluck, Medical Director at NHS Grampian says, “We're delighted to progress the joint application for the specialist support centre in Aberdeen. The Charlie House facility will empower parents and carers with the choice of where they receive support and care at a very difficult time. There are currently around 1,500 children and young people in the North-east of Scotland requiring palliative care. We are looking forward to the centre becoming a reality.”

David Macdonald, Architectural Technologist at firm Cumming and Co who produced the plans, says, “We have been involved with the Charlie House project since day one when the search for an appropriate site for the care facility began. Since then the project has evolved in an extraordinary way and we are honoured that we have played a part on this journey.

The brief that we were presented with seemed challenging but at the same time we recognised the opportunity there to create a unique building in terms of function and design. From the inception and thanks to working closely with the client - who shared with us her personal experience - the specific needs of the users were clearly identified, addressed and translated it into the spatial arrangement of the building. During our numerous workshops with the client we visualised a journey through the building whether you were a visitor, parent, child or a member of staff to design it to help encourage social interaction and foster links between people, the building and landscaped grounds.”

David continues, “The architectural objective was also clearly defined from the beginning - we were aiming at designing a ‘Building as a Home’ but with presence that was to elicit feelings of comfort and security.  We believe that the modest mass of the proposed building has domestic, welcoming and approachable scale without negative institutional associations. It picks up the elements of heaviness of the granite from adjacent hospital buildings by the use of bricks that gives the sense of solidness but also brings familiar associations of ‘Home’ - being at the same time a monolithic and humble built material.

The distinctive character and design of the Charlie House building will complement the context but also distinguish it from the surrounding hospital structures by fulfilling less tangible needs such as triggering feelings of positive emotions and memories. We hope that it will be a great addition to Aberdeen, the north east of Scotland and beyond providing a vital service to children and young people with severe disabilities, their families and the people who work there.”

Charlie House current services include support from the Charlie House-funded Community Nurse, based at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, practical and emotional support including pre and post bereavement work, regular inclusive activity clubs for children, siblings, parent/carers and families and an annual funded short break to Kielder Forest Park in Northumberland.

For further information on Charlie House and its current services and support offering please visit

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