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What makes WMK’s DA approval of this residence so remarkable is the family’s special story behind it.

In May 2019, Claire Willmott, a wife, lawyer, and mum of 3 young children was left a quadriplegic, following a devastating flying fox accident in a relative’s backyard on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Despite surgery, Claire suffered permanent and severe neck and spinal injuries and was paralysed from the shoulders down.  This life-changing event was to result in Claire requiring long-term medical interventions, specialised equipment, and rehabilitative care.

Following several months in hospital and rehab, Claire moved to the Sargood Centre on Collaroy, a world-first purpose-built resort designed by WMK specifically for people with spinal injuries. Claire spent a month here, enjoying a wonderful respite for herself and family and an opportunity to learn the skills necessary to continue living a full and rewarding life.

It was also during this time at Sargood that the Willmott’s connection with WMK was rekindled.

“Claire’s husband, Curtis, was WMK’s former bank manager”. says WMK’s Principal Greg Barnett.

“When we learned of the family’s tragedy, it was an event hard to fathom and we wanted to help.” he continues.

Like the Willmott’s, WMK recognised the significant modifications that would be needed to the Willmott’s family home to accommodate Claire’s new accessibility needs and fulfill their wish to continue living there. 

WMK offered to work pro bono for Curtis and Claire to develop the concept, plans for alterations and additions, and lodge the DA with the Northern Beaches Council. The firm called on the significant strategy and design experience from the work on Sargood to modify the Willmott split level home.  The design incorporated a new central lift core which filled with the house with an abundance of natural light, an additional level to accommodate a master bedroom and wheelchair accessible bathroom, widened garage for their specialised vehicle and modified front of house façade to tie in with the local surrounding streetscape.

Despite a complex DA process, DA was successfully awarded in July 2020.

As expected, the family is ecstatic with the outcome, with Curtis Willmott remarking

“The team at WMK took lead of our development application and the professionalism of Greg Barnett and relentless drive of Sam Champtaloup was amazing. Accommodating function and design into our renovation was a scary proposition to face however, we always felt in safe hands with this wonderful team. We are delighted (and a little overwhelmed) by the functionality which has been incorporated with the design, and certainly not an easy task.” 

WMK will deliver the design intent to a local builder, Bell Constructions, and cannot wait to see the family in their new modified home, expected mid-2021.

Posted by Claire Davies

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