Mount Animal Centre – RSPCA Sussex West

Redevelopment of Mount Noddy Animal Centre, Chichester 2022

Situated in the idyllic South Downs National Park, RSPCA Sussex West’s Mount Noddy Animal Centre provides the perfect location for the care and rehabilitation of animals in need.

That is why, in 2018, we were very excited to be appointed by Maureen Falloon and the trustees at RSPCA Sussex West (then RSPCA Sussex, Chichester and District Branch), to redevelop the existing animal centre and in turn, increase the animal welfare facilities for the wider community.

The trustees and team at Mount Noddy approached us to design a state-of-the-art facility that would provide the highest standards of welfare for cats and dogs. This would include an extension of the existing cottage into a new reception and visitor’s centre, a refurbishment of spaces within the existing reception centre, and new kennelling facilities and enrichment areas for both animals.

It was very important to RSPCA Sussex West, who operate as an independent registered charity, that the new and refurbished buildings be sustainable and sympathetic to their surroundings in the natural park. To achieve this, we incorporated the original flintstone buildings at the site into the final design. We also utilised traditional and efficient natural materials, such as thermowood cladding and cedar roof shingles.

The charity wished for the finished centre to be as energy efficient as possible. To guarantee this, we incorporated solar PV panels into the roof, and that the heating on the site was thermostatically controlled – provided by heat recovery systems and high efficiency air handling units.

Lighting at the centre features daylight control sensors and presence detection to turn off when rooms are not occupied. This was not only an effort to conserve energy, but a way to abide by complex planning conditions. Due to the South Downs’ Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation and Dark Sky Reserve status, all plans had to protect the surrounding natural rhythms of wildlife and nature from being interrupted.

One of the biggest challenges we faced during this project was the COVID-19 pandemic and the various implications it brought. This included the uncertainty of labour and resources, as well as restricted working/proximity measures, and a short supply of materials (which we are still seeing to this day). Thankfully, by maintaining a good relationship with all parties involved, we were able to manage expectations and plan accordingly.

With our extensive experience in animal welfare, we can ensure that our designs alleviate unnecessary stress wherever possible for the animals being cared for. At Mount Noddy, this was no different, and we took measures to minimise stress in the kennels and cattery areas in particular. For example, we increased the size of the existing kennels, and designed them so that dogs would not see each other when resting or exercising.

Overall, RSPCA Sussex West was a fantastic and rewarding project to work on, and we are proud to have completed a facility that will have a life changing impact on many animals in need.