Sunday, 27 May 2018

Care home extension goes ahead after planning battle

THE company which owns a care home in Whitchurch is gearing up to expand it after

THE company which owns a care home in Whitchurch is gearing up to expand it after a six-year planning battle.

Majesticare has been refused permission to demolish most of Eastfield House in Eastfield Lane and build a purpose-built 50-bed complex in its place.

The decision by South Oxfordshire District Council was upheld by a planning inspector last month after the company appealed.

Now Majesticare is to proceed with a £3million rear extension for which it already had consent. This will increase the number of beds from 27 to 45.

The extension will involve demolishing the Victorian building’s rear wing but Majesticare must agree several details with the council, including drainage arrangements, building materials and landscaping.

It has told the council there is a “very low risk” of increased flooding in Eastfield Lane and its engineers can offset this with soakaways.

It is proposing a new rear garden with a games area surrounded by a footpath with fences, pergolas and decorative plants.

The extension would be mostly in red brick and Bath stone.

Majesticare has not said when work is likely to start nor how long it will take or whether the home’s existing residents will have to move out.

The company first sought permission to extend Eastfield House to 47 beds in 2010.

It said the former private residence, which became a care home in 1981, was no longer fit for purpose as it didn’t meet disability access requirements and some rooms didn’t have en-suite facilities. It said larger premises were needed because the local population was ageing and the demand for care places was increasing.

This first application was rejected and then dismissed on appeal on the grounds that the development would overshadow neighbouring properties.

The company then sought permission for a 45-bed extension, which it proposed moving further back from the site boundary.

The council refused permission but this decision was overturned on appeal in 2013.

The planning inspector said the principle of development was acceptable and agreed the facilities needed updating.

In 2014 Majesticare applied to demolish the entire building and erect a 50-bed home.

The council refused permission so the company revised the plans to preserve the facade of the premises. However, the inspector agreed this would still cause “substantial harm” to the surroundings.

Whitchurch Parish Council opposed all Majesticare’s applications but vice-chairman Jim Donohue cautiously welcomed the latest development.

He said: “This sounds like an acceptable compromise and is the best outcome we could have hoped for.

“It’s good that they appear to have dropped the plans to demolish the whole building or even most of it, which was almost as bad. Those proposals would have been a lot worse.”

Majesticare, which also runs the Lashbrook House care home in Mill Road, Shiplake, and The Mount in School Hill, Wargrave, did not respond to requests for comment.

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