Saturday, 27 February 2021

Care home extension bid refused

A PROPOSAL to extend a care home in Whitchurch has been rejected despite having previously been allowed on appeal.

Earlier this year, Majesticare, which owns the derelict Eastfield House in Eastfield Lane, asked South Oxfordshire District Council to renew the planning permission that it was originally granted in 2013.

The council turned it down, saying the scheme would be “overbearing” on neighbours but a planning inspector disagreed.

However, Majesticare has never acted on this, instead pursuing a series of failed bids to either fully or partly demolish the Victorian property and build something more modern in its place.

As a result, the consent for the extension expired a year ago and the council has again decided the drawbacks outweigh the benefits.

Majesticare wants to demolish two old “disjointed and haphazard” extensions and build a modern two-and-a-half storey wing in their place, raising the total number of beds from 27 to 45.

The company says the proposal is sustainable as the site is brownfield.

Eastfield House, which shut in 2016, is not listed, but planning officers says it is still a “heritage asset” in the village conservation area and the proposal could harm protected trees.

They accepted it would have some economic benefits and offer much-needed care places but said there was no evidence that these couldn’t be provided elsewhere in the district.

Whitchurch Parish Council also opposed the application, saying the extension was taller than the existing building and would be visible from all sides as well as intruding on neighbours.

The district council’s forestry officer was also against the proposal, as were 38 members of the public.

Oxfordshire County Council’s highways officers did not object.

Villagers expressed concern about the building’s dilapidation, which has made it a target for youths breaking in.

Majesticare is yet to confirm whether it will appeal. It says the home does not meet a number of modern care standards, including the requirement for en suite facilities in all rooms.

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