Monday, 04 July 2022

Plan to rebuild care home resurrected by new owner

Plan to rebuild care home resurrected by new owner

PLANS to redevelop a former care home in Whitchurch have been resurrected.

Urban Village Group, a developer which owns Eastfield House, has applied for permission to vary the consent granted on appeal in 2013 for the partial demolition of the building and the construction of a large extension to increase the number of bedrooms from 27 to 45.

The new variations include changes to the internal layout, two more bedrooms, more dormers, a large brick-built “summer house” and a new plant room on the eastern boundary.

The entrance would also be moved to the side of the building.

The £12 million scheme also includes landscaped gardens, a café/bistro and activity lounges.

If it is approved by South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, the developer says work would begin later this year and would be completed in 14 months.

The new home in Eastfield Lane would be let to the Bracebridge Care Group for a minimum term of 25 years.

David Choules, project director, said: “At the moment we are in the detailed design stage, working closely with our preferred contractor. We should be welcoming guests early 2024.”

Whitchurch Parish Council opposes the plans, as it did to the previous proposals to redevelop the Victorian building when it was owned by Majesticare.

Chairman Jim Donahue said: “We are generally supportive of a new company developing Eastfield House to put the building to good use and ensure it does not continue to deteriorate.

“But our view is that the extent of change in this proposed planning modification is excessive and warrants a formal planning application and not the Section 73 variation of conditions method they are trying to get these changes approved under.

“The proposed changes are unclear in a number of areas and appear to negatively impact neighbouring homes with overlooking and plant room noise.

“We continue to be concerned about the size of the development as we don’t believe there is sufficient parking available on site for visitors and staff to support 45 residents. This could exacerbate existing traffic issues in the village.”

Neighbours have also opposed the proposals. Tom and Emer Hoskin say: “The site is too small to provide adequate parking and the community cannot support additional traffic and parking. The preceding application made allowance for only 13 cars. The current application site drawing contains no detail at all. As a community, we are concerned about the ability of Whitchurch to absorb the traffic associated with a small hospital. Whitchurch is already congested and has no parking capacity.”

Neil Huntington claims the plans contain incorrect information and lack important detail.

He says: “The trees on the boundary between my house and Eastfield House are still being shown incorrectly to be located within their site boundary on the applicant’s site plan. This also applies to an important lime tree located within the garden of 14 Swanston Field to the north.

“Corrections have been requested on numerous occasions and it now needs to be amended as it does not show the correct relationship between the proposals and the surrounding properties.

“The proposed site plan also does not show the new plant room.”

Majesticare, which previously owned the building, finally obtained permission to demolish modern extensions and expand the original building in 2013.

The company first sought permission to extend the building in 2011, then made several attempts to obtain permission for the larger scheme but these were rejected by both the district council and planning inspectors on appeal.

When Majesticare put the building up for sale last year, the district council confirmed that the 2013 permission remained valid because the company had started the initial groundworks, although it didn’t finish the project.

In 2018, when Majesticare was seeking consent for a more extensive refurbishment with 48 beds and additional facilities, its consultants said the previous plan was effectively not worth pursuing as it would be more viable to demolish and rebuild the home.

Nick Sellman, chief executive of Urban Village Group, of Sutton Coldfield, said: “Whitchurch provides a beautiful setting for our latest care home development. We are sure that residents will enjoy the nature walkways and sensory garden that form part of our proposal.”

He added: “We are on a mission to improve senior living provision in this country and our development will be a high-quality facility.

“There are around 400,000 older people in care homes in the UK. With old age, the level of disability and dependency increases rapidly and impacts significantly on the demand for care services.

“Urban Village is determined to help meet this demand.”

Public consultation will run until July 1. To see the application, visit

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