New state-of-the-art facilities for donkey care open for business

A centre of excellence in the field of donkey care in Sidmounth, East Devon, is now benefitting from a substantial expansion and development project.  The project has delivered a brand new, sustainable, state-of-the-art veterinary hospital and research centre, new stabling and isolation paddocks.  Further work to create a visitor centre, and restaurant is due to be completed at the end of the summer.

Clarkebond has provided civil, structural, geotechnical engineering design and travel planning services for the development and has worked with the Donkey Sanctuary, located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to design specialist donkey-friendly features.  

The new sustainable buildings use natural materials and a green roof and will be heated using renewable energy from a new biomass district heating system that uses a combination of wood pellets and waste generated by the donkeys.

The new hospital includes a large, well-equipped operating theatre, a high ceiling and hoist mechanism to enable treatments of large donkeys and mules. It also includes recovery boxes for animals waiting or recovering from procedures, and a separate clinical area for dental treatment, X-rays and standing procedures. There is also space for a donkey patient’s bonded friend to be nearby during treatments to reduce stress during treatment and recovery, for both the patient and their friend.

The new visitor centre will include an area for visitors to interact with the donkeys and will also feature a new glazed entrance gallery, visitor exhibition space, a shop and a 200-seat restaurant and cafe.  The restaurant uses steel, concrete, long span glulaminated timber beams, glass and stonework with a green roof, all to provide a contemporary building that complements the rural setting.

Clarkebond work included detailed designs for the integration of the new glazed structure with existing listed buildings and designs for complicated underpinning procedures to listed buildings constructed from random stonework.

Extra visitor parking and coach arrival space at the centre will be developed with eco landscaping to blend the new facilities within the highly sensitive landscape.

Clarkebond designed the structure of the buildings using the latest REVIT software and BIM standards, in conjunction with the architect and services engineer.

Additional services provided by Clarkebond included assistance to update the Donkey Sanctuary travel plan and upgrading the external works and bus facilities that take visitors to the site.  Clarkebond also produced designs to improve the drainage of paddocks and the design and detailing of new steelwork to barns that the Sanctuary fabricate themselves.

Project Manager:  Robinson White
Architects: LHC
Engineers: Clarkebond