Monday, 25 June 2018

Residents win fight to stop larger care home

PLANS to demolish a Victorian care home and replace it with a purpose-built complex have been turned down following protests

PLANS to demolish a Victorian care home and replace it with a purpose-built complex have been turned down following protests by residents.

South Oxfordshire District Council has refused permission for Majesticare to knock down Eastfield House in Eastfield Lane, Whitchurch, a former private house.

The firm wanted to build a new facility with 50 bedrooms, saying the existing building was outdated as it was hard for elderly people to access and many rooms lacked en-suite bathrooms.

About 90 residents submitted letters of objection, saying the development would spoil the character of the area and lead to more traffic.

They were supported by Henley MP John Howell and Whitchurch Parish Council, which recommended that permission should be refused.

Hannah Stevens, the district council’s design and conservation officer, also recommended refusal.

She said: “I would not be able to support a proposal for the demolition of Eastfield House. [It] would result in the loss of all original historic fabric and thus would result in substantial harm to the Whitchurch conservation area.

“Furthermore, substantial harm must be outweighed by public benefits or on viability arguments. This application fails these tests because it has not been shown that there is no other alternative use that can be found.”

Majesticare has planning permission to demolish part of the property and put up a three-story annexe, increasing the number of bedrooms from 27 to 45.

This was granted after a planning appeal in 2013 despite opposition from residents.

Councillor Harry Butterworth, who chairs the parish council, said: “I’m sure everyone in the village will be delighted. The idea of demolishing one of the village’s finest historic buildings does not seem to have any supporters.

“However, this decision may not be the end of the story. The application is likely to be sent to appeal and we need to bring this process of ‘planning creep’ to a halt.

“If and when an appeal is announced, everyone who objected will need to do so again, this time to the planning inspector.”

District councillor Pearl Slatter, who lives in the village, said the decision had “made my day”.

“We are such a small village and it would be like having a great big warehouse stuck in the middle of us,” she said.

“It would increase traffic on Eastfield Lane and pupils at the primary school would find it very difficult and dangerous. The drains in Eastfield Lane would struggle to cope with the extra demand, given how badly it flooded last year.”

Majesticare said it had tried to strike a balance between the need for better facilities and keeping the feel of the old home.

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