Controversial plans to demolish two detached residential properties in Wilmslow and erect a care home have been refused by the Northern Planning Committee today (Wednesday, 10th April).
Altrincham based New Care Project were seeking permission to demolish two four bedroomed houses in large plots at 51 to 53 Handforth Road in Wilmslow and replace them with a 65 bedroom care home.
However, these were met with strong opposition with 84 letters of objection having been received - mainly from local residents but also from the NHS Eastern Cheshire clinical commissioning group and and GP partners in Handforth who objected on the basis of the current high number of care homes in Eastern Cheshire and the impact on the primary care services available to other residents living locally.
Local MP Ester McVey also objected saying "My concerns have not substantially changed from my previous objection. I believe that any changes have been minor and do not substantially alter the fact that this site is not suitable for a care home."
However, the Planning Officer recommended the planning application for approval concluding that "While the objections are noted, the proposed scheme is considered to be acceptable".
In his report for the Northern Planning Committee the Planning Officer stated "the development will provide suitable accommodation to enable an ageing population within Cheshire East to live full independent lives for as long as possible. It is considered that the proposal would make a valuable contribution towards meeting an identified housing need for elderly people within the Borough, as well as continuity in their care, which is a material consideration of significant weight. The impact on European Protected Species and other ecological interests has been assessed by the nature conservation officer and is acceptable."
He continued "There is not considered to be any reason, having regard to the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, to withhold planning permission in this case. Similarly, the proposal also raises no significant visual, highway safety, amenity, design or flooding issues, and complies with relevant local and national planning policies. A number of economic benefits will also arise from the development including additional trade for local business and the creation of employment."
Speaking at the planning committee meeting, ward councillor Barry Burkhill said "I am concerned that the CCG have objected to this application because of the inability of local medical services to cope with an influx of residents with acute needs. I am aware that the service is already stretched with patients due as a result of the increase of houses brought forward in the local plan."
He added "To ask them to cope with an additional 60 plus whose needs are likely to be more acute than general members of the population is unreasonable and it is an unbalanced recommendation from the officer and it is certainly not the right location for a care home of this size."
Town Councillor David Pincombe said "Wilmslow Town Council strongly objects to this developments on the grounds of overdevelopment of the site, out of keeping with the area, inadequate parking provision and overbearing on neighbouring properties.
"To build this care home by demolishing two substantial character houses on a busy residential road where parking is a problem will not only cause travel chaos but will also lead of possibility of accidents."
Paul Carr, architect for this scheme urged members to support the planning officer's recommendation.
He said "This is a community facility providing the highest quality of care and environment for residents of that community. There is a clearly identifiable shortfall of quality elderly care beds in the borough. Much of the existing stock is slowly becoming obsolete, would not be registered as new by the Care Quality Commission, would not meet current building regulations, fire safety standards or provide even modern basic dignity of care, for example ensuite bathrooms something which we believe should change.
"New Care's award winning standard of care, buildings, interiors and wonderful landscapes all help to provide a happy, healthy and safe home for residents in later life in an increasingly ageing population."
Mr Carr added "I urge you to follow the strong recommendation of your officers and professionals and grant full planning consent today."
Starting the debate Cllr Hilda Gaddum said "For me this is the wrong location, the wrong setting for a care home."
She added "I think it will have an enormous dominant effect the street scene. I think it's overdevelopment of the site from its bulk and massing."
Cllr Craig Browne said "I can't really support an application which we now learn is providing only two thirds of the car parking spaces our standards say should be provided. Our standards are there for a reason and they should respect it."
Cllr Nick Mannion commented "I have no problem whatsoever with the principle with kind of development in this location."
He added "We know we have an ageing population so we don't wait until we have a shortfall. We need to provide quality accommodation. However, it is too big, it's too big. I agree with Councillor Gaddum it is cramming onto the site."
He continued "The parking is inadequate so again I am struggling to support this. The principle I have no problem with but again the applicant is trying to be too greedy. Too much crammed in."
Members of the Northern Planning Committee unanimously agreed that it was an overdevelopment of the site, which results in a lack of car parking, an overbearing impact on neighbouring property because of the bulk and massing as well as being out of character with street scene.