Thursday, 20 February 2020

Care home plan saga continues

THE owners of a derelict care home in Whitchurch want to renew their planning consent for an extension after a more ambitious refurbishment bid failed.

Ross Healthcare has asked South Oxfordshire District Council’s permission to knock down two old extensions to the rear of Eastfield House, off Eastfield Lane, and build a modern wing in their place which would increase the total number of beds from 27 to 45.

The company was first granted permission in 2013 but never started the work and instead pursued a series of unsuccessful applications to demolish most or all of the Victorian property and erect a purpose-built care home in its place. They argued this was necessary to meet today’s higher standards of care.

The most recent plan was rejected on appeal in October. Planning inspector Andrew Spencer-Peet said it would harm the character of the area despite the firm’s promise to build in keeping with the previous architectural style.

Mr Spencer-Peet accepted the argument that the care home fell short of modern standards but said there was no evidence that the property couldn’t be put to an alternative use and a new care home built elsewhere.

Now Ross Healthcare, also known as Majesticare, wants the original extension to be approved again after permission was renewed in 2016. It says the old extensions are “disjointed and haphazard” and the proposal is sustainable as the site is brownfield.

The new extension would be two-and-a-half storeys with improved access and a better car park layout. The company says it is designed to match its surroundings and reopening the home would create jobs.

One neighbour has objected. Whitchurch Parish Council, which opposed the company’s previous applications, is yet to comment.

The district council rejected the extension plan, saying it would have an “overbearing” effect on neighbours but the company appealed successfully.

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