Monday, 23 October 2017

Villagers angry at care home’s £3m extension

PLANS to double the size of a care home have been approve following a second appeal.

PLANS to double the size of a care home have been approve following a second appeal.

Health operator Majesticare has been granted permission for the £3 million extension at Eastfield House in Whitchurch.

It intends to demolish part of the Victorian property in Eastfield Lane and put up a three-storey annexe.

This will increase the number of bedrooms from 23 to 45. The new rooms will be for over-65s who need care around the clock.

The company says the extension is necessary because some of the current rooms no longer meet government standards and in order to keep the home financially viable.

In 2011, the original plans were thrown out by South Oxfordshire District Council and subsequently rejected on appeal following protests by neighbours.

An inspector ruled that the development was inappropriate as it would overshadow nearby homes.

Last year, Majesticare applied again, removing two bedrooms and moving the extension 38ft further from the site boundary.

Planning officers recommended approval but councillors turned it down again, so Majesticare appealed.

Now planning inspector Richard Maile has said there were no longer any valid grounds to refuse permission.

He said: “The proposal has been amended to address the concerns of the previous inspector as to the impact of the development on the amenities of nearby residents.

“The alterations and extensions for which permission is sought are necessary in order to meet current registration standards for new care homes and market expectations for such facilities.

“A number of the rooms do not possess en-suite facilities while parts of the existing building are in poor condition.”

Fifty-three residents sent letters of objection, saying the extension was out of keeping with the building’s historic character.

Mr Maile said: “I acknowledge that the development would add considerably to the built form of the original Victorian dwelling.

“Nevertheless, it has been carefully designed in a style that is appropriate to the host building... and would have a minimal impact on the character and appearance of Eastfield Lane.”

Stephen Trinder, who lives in Eastfield Lane, said: “How utterly depressing. It is indescribably frustrating that the unanimous opinions of the local councils and residents can be overridden by one individual without any right of appeal.”

Harry Butterworth, chairman of Whitchurch Parish Council, said: “The village is pretty disappointed with the outcome. This plan went through the parish council and the district council’s democratically elected planning committee and was turned down every time.

“However, some bloke who doesn’t have to live here has simply authorised it with a stroke of his pen.

“Many people around here have had smaller applications turned down, so it makes a nonsense of all this talk of ‘localism’.”

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

Eastfield House was built as a private residence in the 1880s and converted into a care home in 1981.

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