Monday, 25 March 2019

Plans for 65 homes for elderly revived

Thamesfield care home in Henley, also owned by Retirement Villages Group

PLANS for a large complex of “extra care” flats and cottages for the elderly near Shiplake have been revived.

Retirement Villages Group, which owns the Thamesfield care home off Wargrave Road in Henley, is seeking outline planning permission for up to 65 units on a field opposite the entrance to the Haileywood Farm industrial estate off Reading Road.

The company suggests that the homes could be arranged in 11 blocks containing a total of 50 two-bedroom flats and 15 two-bedroom bungalows with 77 parking spaces.

There would also be a clubhouse with a treatment room, gym, meeting room, shop, hair salon, bar, function room, dining room and lounge as well as offices.

The company says this is a central component of the plan and essential to support residents’ “health, wellbeing and independence”. All master bedrooms would have en-suite disabled bathrooms and each property would have wide corridors suitable for wheelchairs and walking frames.

Access would be off the main road, about 400ft before the curve at the industrial estate to ensure visibility in both directions, with two speed cushions on the southern approach.

There would be a separate pedestrian entrance at the north-western corner which could link to a new 1.5m wide pavement leading to Lower Shiplake.

The site would be screened by a “low-key” brick and flint wall and it would be landscaped with a pond at the eastern edge to reduce the risk of flooding. The proposal is smaller than Retirement Villages’ original plan for the site, which comprised 66 flats or houses in blocks up to three storeys tall as well as a 40-bed, two-storey care home with communal leisure facilities and a garden.

This was rejected last year by South Oxfordshire District Council, which said it would urbanise the countryside and erode the “green gap” between Shiplake Cross and Lower Shiplake.

The company appealed but then withdrew the application before a hearing took place.

Now it says that the development without the care home would have less of an impact. It says none of the proposed buildings would be more than two storeys tall.

Tetlow King, which acts as an agent for both the company and landowner Dr Harjot Bal, a GP from Woodley, says there is a significant shortfall of “modern, fit-for-purpose care provision” in the area and that this will grow bigger unless more developments are approved.

The agent says the area is suitable for development as Thames Farm, which is about half a mile north of the site, has outline permission for 95 houses.

Tetlow King says the development would release on to the market existing homes occupied by older people, alleviating demand on family housing. It would also create the equivalent of at least 20 full-time jobs.

Although the site is outside Shiplake’s settlement boundary, the company says it is immediately next to the built-up area and is therefore “not an isolated location in the countryside”.

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters

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