Monday, 30 November 2020

Residents oppose new plan for care home

PLANS to demolish a large part of a care home in Whitchurch face growing opposition.

PLANS to demolish a large part of a care home in Whitchurch face growing opposition.

At least 15 residents have sent letters of objection to South Oxfordshire District Council and a campaign is under way urging others to follow suit.

Majesticare wants permission to knock down all but the southern elevation of Eastfield House, a Victorian property in Eastfield Lane, and build a three-storey complex in its place.

It says the existing 27-bed home doesn’t meet modern care standards and a larger one with 50 en-suite bedrooms is needed. It says more places are needed to accommodate an increasingly elderly population.

Last year, Majesticare was refused permission to bulldoze the whole building and build a 50-bedroom complex.

Planning officers said this would cause “substantial harm” to the village’s conservation area. There were objections from about 90 residents, the parish council and Henley MP John Howell.

Now residents say the latest proposals would be out of keeping with the area.

A flyer has been circulated around Whitchurch urging people to object.

It says: “A modern replacement cannot match the fine detailed craftsmanship of the existing building and would be, by comparison, a cheap imitation.

“There are risks that the retained parts could be damaged during construction... leading to the requirement to demolish the whole building.

“The applicant has already had a previous planning application seeking full demolition refused. The principle of further demolition is a dangerous one... once established, it could lead to further applications for an even larger facility.” The objectors include former parish council chairman Harry Butterworth, who said: “The proposed new home is more like a factory or industrial unit with its large kitchens and laundry facilities.

“It does not look like a residential development and it will damage views of that lovely part of the village.

“I also wonder how they’re going to get the building materials to the site as Eastfield Lane is very narrow.”

The parish council will discuss the issue after three new councillors have been  co-opted later this month.

Residents have applied for the home to be listed but Historic England says the building is not significant enough historically.

Majesticare says it has tried to strike a balance “between retention of the façade and provision of appropriate modern facilities”.

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