The Clockhouse, Open Market Housing Architecture Portfolio

Thorndon, Suffolk


Kelly House was established in 1856 as the ‘Suffolk Reformatory’ for boys and was administered throughout the 19th Century by a single family. Following the Children and Young Persons Act of 1933 the name ‘Reformatory’ was dropped in favour of ‘Approved School’ and the site was operated as such until 1971 when the responsibility for young offenders passed directly to the Local Authority. After a period as a community home in 1992 Suffolk County Council established a resource centre on the site comprising conference facilities, workshops, and offices.

The site remained vacant for many years and was eventually acquired by Witnesham Ventures Limited for residential development.

This varied history left a series of buildings in a poor state of repair, with complex internal arrangements, extensions and outbuildings which were unsympathetic to the original.

Our task was to sub-divide the original Victorian Reformatory into a series of attractive houses and flats. This involved party walls and floors, avoiding flanking sound and extensive internal remodelling. The end result is a building which closely resembles the Victorian original and provides energy-efficient housing with modern interiors.


Witnesham Ventures Limited
Conversion of Former Victorian Reformatory to Form 28 Houses and Flats
Capital Value:
Approx. £2.8m
JCT Design and Build Contract 2016
Omnis Construction
February 2020
Project Management – Richard Monk Associates, Structural engineer – Rossi Long, Energy Assessment – ASHEA Ltd, Acoustic Consultant – Sharps Redmore

Witnesham Ventures Ltd appointed us initially to provide an assessment of the site and acting on our advice acquired the site in 2014. We were appointed to obtain planning permission and entered into lengthy negotiations with Mid Suffolk District Council (now Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils) to determine the best mix of houses and flats.

Planning permission was granted in April 2016 and work started on site in early 2017. Our appointment remained with Witnesham Ventures Ltd to obtain Building Regulation approval and to provide the contractor with construction information as required.

This informal arrangement is favoured by a number of developers and, provided the contractor accepts overall design responsibility, the arrangement can work very well.