Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Spotlight on the retirement ‘village’

MORE details have emerged of plans for a new 172-bed retirement community near Shiplake.

MORE details have emerged of plans for a new 172-bed retirement community near Shiplake.

Retirement Villages Group, which runs the Thamesfield nursing home in Wargrave Road, Henley, wants to build the complex on a field off the A4155 Reading Road, opposite the entrance to the Haileywood Farm industrial estate.

It is to submit a planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council and may have to prepare a formal assessment of the impact on the surrounding landscape.

The company, which is working with landowner Dr Harjot Bal, a GP from Woodley, wants to build a 40-bed, two-storey care home, three blocks of “extra care” flats and 10 blocks of terraced or semi-detached “extra care” bungalows.

The home would be at the south-east corner of the site and would have two wings for people needing different levels of care plus a clubhouse with communal leisure facilities and a secure garden.

The blocks of flats would be either two or three storeys with a total of 42 two- bedroom units, which would be sold or rented to people with care needs but who still want to live independently.

The 24 bungalows would have two bedrooms and would be arranged around courtyards and built “in keeping with the local aesthetic”.

The site, which measures about 2.65 hectares, is currently screened from view by trees and hedges and would require a new entrance off the main road. 

Retirement Villages says the development would have a “minimal” impact on the landscape as most of the surrounding vegetation would be retained and the buildings would be broken up by green spaces.

The complex would cater for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s and employ 65 staff with a maximum of 25 on site at any one time.

There would be 95 parking places — 29 for the care home and 66 for the extra care properties, including spaces for visitors and carers.

The developer’s agent Tetlow King says there is a shortfall of 283 extra care places across South Oxfordshire and increasing the number would free up more ordinary homes as elderly people vacated them. In a report to the district council, the company says: “The applicant’s aspiration is to deliver a high-quality new care facility that will provide 24-hour care for the frail elderly.

“As a result of increasing demographic pressures, meeting the needs of older people is predicted to become more challenging in the future. The provision of the new facility will therefore help to improve the quantity and quality of care services for older people.

“While the exact level of need beyond 2016 is not clear at this point, the unequivocal truth is that there is a clear need for increased extra care provision across the district.

“This unmet need constitutes a very special circumstance that outweighs the harm to the countryside as it will result in undue pressures on existing provision and a failure to objectively meet the needs of all residents.”

Retirement Villages says it could provide a footpath along the western edge of the site which would connect to an existing right of way to the north-west.

It is discussing access and road safety issues with Oxfordshire County Council’s highways officers and has conducted a traffic survey which it says found the scheme would not cause congestion, even at peak times.

The company plans to submit an application for outline planning permission, which would seek to confirm that the principle of development is acceptable.

It says that building work could start within a year if all issues are agreed.

Retirement Villages announced its plans last month by circulating a leaflet to homes in Shiplake. The parish council has said it will discuss the matter when a planning application is submitted.

Three other developments in the area are currently being proposed. Claire Engbers was refused outline permission for 95 houses at Thames Farm, a 14-acre site off Reading Road, but she plans to appeal.

Sarah Melton, from Newbury, wants to build seven detached houses at Mount Ida, a private house opposite Thames Farm. The existing four-bedroom property would be demolished.

Both sites were submitted for inclusion in the Henley and Harpsden joint neighbourhood plan in 2013 but rejected.

Alex Hersham and his mother Aida Dellal, of Fawley Court, off Marlow Road, Henley, want to redevelop the former Wyevale garden centre in Reading Road with up to 34 homes and either offices or a care home.

The 4.5-acre site, immediately north of Thames Farm, has been derelict since 2009 and was earmarked for commercial use in the neighbourhood plan.

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