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'EXCELLENT' target





Onyx - a low secure autism ward

One of the first purpose-built, autism-friendly secure inpatient facilities in the West Midlands

Our team created one of the first purpose-built, autism-friendly secure inpatient facility in the West Midlands for Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust.

Located at Brooklands Hospital in Solihull, the new ward fills a service gap that has, until now, resulted in individuals being placed in prisons or distant hospitals.

The unit provides residents with access to specially-designed facilities that will help to facilitate their rehabilitation.

Designed with the end-user in mind

To ensure the facility is truly fit-for-purpose, the hospital worked closely with a number of people from the autistic community to gain insight into what the new ward should include to best meet the needs of individuals with autism. These views were incorporated throughout the building, from the colour palette selected, right across to the name of the ward.

Some of the design features that will ensure the comfort of residents include: lots of open space, communal and individual spaces, a specific colour palette used throughout, lighting controls, and individual temperature controls for each of the flats, which will allow residents can change the temperature of their individual living space to suit their own needs.

Residents will also be able to use a communal garden, as well as having outdoor space off their bedroom, which they can access as desired.

Security and safety

As well as making sure residents are comfortable, another key consideration is their safety. There are a number of features to ensure safety including anti-climb perimeter fences, a seclusion room, security doors in and out of the building and anti-ligature lighting.

Onyx Ward Brooklands Hospital

The self-contained living quarters all include access to their own outdoor space

Working on a live hospital site

An additional element our team had to be conscious of was working on a live hospital site. With residents living nearby, our team worked closely with the hospital to understand how we needed to adapt our usual ways of working to ensure minimal disruption.

Embedding sustainable solutions

Sustainability is also a key element of this project, with the building aiming to achieve BREEAM 'Excellent' certification. The building is being heated by air source heat pumps, which is in line with Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust’s commitment to no longer install gas-fuelled systems. There is also a PV array on the roof to provide renewable energy.

Onyx Ward Brooklands Hospital

Residents have access to their own self-contained bedrooms, where they can control the temperature of the room to suit their requirements

Mel Coombes MBE, Chief Executive at CWPT, said:

“The opening of Onyx Ward marks our commitment to the provision of high quality, purpose-built spaces for our patients to thrive. The unit has been specifically designed with our service users in mind and offers person-centred accommodation for autistic patients with sensory processing difficulties and we are rightly very proud to open such an excellent facility for our patients and their patient experience”.

Professor Ashok Roy OBE, Consultant Psychiatrist and Associate Medical Director at CWPT, said:

“The lack of high-quality community services often means that autistic people can spend long periods in hospital, even after the completion of treatment. Onyx is one of the first purpose-built autism-friendly secure inpatient facilities in the West Midlands. It has individual flats each with a private garden space, with particular attention to light and sound levels which reduces sensory overstimulation; this is commonly seen in autistic people in conventional inpatient wards.
“These facilities are going to be staffed by a highly skilled multi-disciplinary team under the leadership of Professor Peter Langdon, an internationally renowned expert in the field. The Trust is proud to add a key service to the autism pathway and strengthen its service offer to realise the ambition of the national autism strategy.”

Dan Doyle, Director at Willmott Dixon, said:

“We’re thrilled to be handing over the Onyx Ward at Brooklands Hospital and to have been part of a project that will ensure the safety and comfort of individuals during their rehabilitation journey.
“The ward also incorporates sustainable elements to reduce its operational impact on the environment, including taking a fabric-first approach, utilising air source heat pumps and PV solar panels, and aiming for a BREEAM Excellent certification.”

The project was procured through Procurement Hub’s Major Project’s Framework and was officially handed over in June 2023.

Onyx Ward Brooklands Hospital

The new ward was opened in an ribbon cutting ceremony with representatives from Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust and Willmott Dixon in attendance


Creating communal and self-contained spaces to support individuals with autism in their rehabilitation.

The new facility puts the end-user's requirements at the heart of the building, ensuring it's fit-for-purpose for those with autism.



Birmingham (Snowhill - Construction)

One Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham

B4 6GN

Tel: 0121 236 9668