Developing a hi-tech fertility clinic – innovative developer HPC partners with IVF pioneer, Bourn Hall

6th August 2018


In 2014, IVF pioneer Bourn Hall approached HPC to develop a new purpose-built, standalone fertility clinic, which would form the blueprint for its future clinics.

Bourn Hall was established in 1980, two years after its founders Mr Patrick Steptoe and Professor Robert Edwards, pioneered the conception of Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF or test-tube baby in 1978. Since its foundation, the clinic has assisted in the conception of over 10,000 babies. Bourn Hall sees private and NHS-funded patients across their UK locations in Cambridge, Peterborough, Colchester, Wickford, King's Lynn and Norwich. They also have partner clinics in Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, and Herts & Essex Fertility Centre.


In the UK alone, more than 68,000 fertility treatments were provided in 2016, with 20,000 children born through IVF and donor insemination treatment[1]. Since 1991, birth rates from IVF treatment have increased by over 85% – around one in three treatment cycles now result in a birth for patients under 35[2]. Births from fertility treatment have become safer – the national multiple birth rate has decreased from 24% in 2008 to 11% today without reducing birth rates. As well as improving safety, this relieves the pressure on the NHS maternity and neonatal services. 


The vision

Replacing its satellite clinic nearby, Bourn Hall required a full-service facility which contained an embryology laboratory, cryogenic store and the capacity to undertake 1,000 IVF cycles a year.

HPC started by carrying out a full site search within Bourn Hall’s chosen area identifying several viable options. The London Road site in Wickford was chosen because of its proximity to their current clinic, and easy transport links. The rail station is nearby and the clinic is accessible to those traveling from South Hertfordshire and North London, as well as Essex.

To meet the Bourn Hall’s complex requirements, HPC worked closely with an experienced, innovative team of design and construction specialists to develop a high specification facility. The first floor houses the clean room areas; the laboratory, cryostore and procedure room alongside recovery and changing.  Consulting and scanning suites are located on the second floor arranged around the reception and administration areas. The ground floor undercroft provides car parking, loading areas and storage, with access to further parking at the back of the site.


Carefully considered design

To operate successfully, an IVF clinic requires clean-controlled laboratories and rooms which offer the highest standards of air quality, temperature control and cleanliness. 

A key requirement at the Wickford clinic was the need to minimise vibration to prevent impact to activities undertaken in the embryology laboratory. A special concrete frame was used to minimise general vibration, and pressure pads are applied to equipment in the clean areas. 

The air quality in an embryology laboratory has a vast effect on the health and viability of embryos so the air system there had to be completely separate from the remainder of the building. It is details such as these that make developing a facility of this kind particularly complex.


The patient experience

There was also much to consider from the patient perspective. Optimising the work-flow (patients, staff, materials and waste streams) in the building was key in order to comply with current Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority guidelines for IVF facilities. 

All of Bourn Hall’s existing clinics feature strong brand elements, such as the colour palette, to deliver a similar patient experience through the design of their facilities. This consistency provides a relaxing, human atmosphere, and a place of support – the founding vision of Bourn Hall.

The clinic’s calm environment is apparent upon arrival. Comfortable seating in the middle of the reception area provides an informal setting and patients can see into surrounding office space and consultation rooms, which lends itself to a feeling of a transparent and safe environment. In the recovery areas, the colour palette is softer and does not look like a stark hospital interior.   

A unique feature of the clinic is a ‘fertility wellbeing hub’. Bourn Hall is extremely aware that improving nutrition, fitness and reducing stress can help patients improve their fertility and manage the emotional rollercoaster of treatment. Therefore the design included a space for complementary therapists to practice.


Private health provision

The clinic was completed in April 2018, during the 40th anniversary year of IVF. Its development is in line with HPC’s strategy to develop property for private healthcare providers. The majority of its projects to date have been in conjunction with the NHS in primary care, although the company has a strong track record of working with private providers over the last 20 years.

HPC’s skill of understanding the requirements for developments that contain laboratories, forensic dentistry and diagnostics, or a range of different elements, will be put to excellent use.

“The development in Wickford for Bourn Hall is a perfect example of how we can bring together a wide range of clinical, and non-clinical, factors to suit our clients. Cleanroom laboratories are used in many areas of healthcare and medicine, for example DNA testing, and sexual health, so the design and build for Bourn Hall’s clinic is transferable to other types of medical facilities.” said Paul Stacey, Managing Director of HPC.


[1] Source: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)

[2] As above.  

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