An appeal lodged against the refusal of planning permission for a care home in Wilmslow has been dismissed.
Altrincham based New Care Project submitted an appeal against the decision to refuse permission for the demolition of two 4-bedroom detached properties at 51 and 53 Handforth Road in Wilmslow and erection of a 65-bedroom care home (reference 18/4024M).
The proposed scheme was met with strong opposition with 84 letters of objection received - mainly from local residents but also from the NHS Eastern Cheshire clinical commissioning group 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".
The Northern Planning Committee disagreed with the recommendation though and in April 2019 members voted to refuse permission on the grounds that the development would be detrimental to the interests of highway safety through an increase in parking and the proposal would lead to an overdevelopment of the site which would have an overbearing impact on the living conditions for neighbours.
The applicant argued that the parking provision is acceptable because the proposal would generate no more than a dozen vehicle movements during either of the network peak hours, the impact of which will be negligible, and the parking provision is slightly higher than the demand at 3 other similar sites in Macclesfield, Wilmslow, and Holmes Chapel.
In regard to the second reason for refusal, the applicant states "To the north, there is a sufficient gap with extensive screening from protected trees to ensure that the development would have an acceptable impact on the properties to the north.
"To the south the adjacent property would be number 49. Changes in the topography and orientation reduce the impact on this property in terms of loss of light or loss of privacy. The proposed building would be positioned over 40m from the closest rear habitable windows of number 49.
"The proposed side facing windows at first and second floor would be positioned over 22m from the boundary with number 49, which together with the mature boundary screening would ensure that this relationship is within acceptable limits.
"Further into the site the building would be over 24m from the closest point of the properties along Tarporley Walk. This is within acceptable limits."
However, the Planning Inspector concluded that the appeal should be dismissed.
He said "I have found that the appeal proposal would cause harm to the character and appearance of area. Due to the permanence of the building, this harm would be significant and lasting."
Mr Dowsett added "Although I have found that the proposal would not cause harm to highway safety, or living conditions of neighbours, neither of these matters either singly or collectively would justify or outweigh that harm that I have found. Nor is there any substantive evidence that there is an overriding need for care home provision that would warrant the harm that would be caused."
A second appeal against the refusal of permission for a two-storey rear extension at 44 Hawthorn Lane, which is located within Hawthorn Lane Conservation Area, was also dismissed.
The plans involved building an extension in a recessed area on the rear elevation of the 4-storey period semi-detached, replacing a two storey bay window feature that encompasses the lower ground and ground floor levels and is mirrored on the adjoining semi.
The scheme (reference 19/1456M) was refused due to the effect of the development on character and appearance, with particular regard to Hawthorn Lane Conservation Area, and the living conditions of the occupiers of 46 Hawthorne Lane in respect of light.
The applicants argued that "The rear of the property is not visible from public land and therefore any alterations will not impact on the character and appearance of the Conservation Area. It is therefore clear that the proposal would preserve the character and appearance of the Hawthorn Lane Conservation Area."
Adding "There are numerous examples of similar extensions in the Conservation Area that have been allowed."
In order to address the Council's second reason for refusal - the loss of sunlight to 46 Hawthorn Lane - the applicants sought an "expert opinion".
Mr Kennedy, who visited the site and assessed the plans, said "In conclusion based on the analyses work I have prepared and taking full account of the guidelines and recommendations detailed in the BRE Guide the proposed extension works cannot, in my opinion, be viewed as works that will result in an acceptable loss of light or sunlight to the relevant area at No.46."
However, the Planning Inspector concluded that the appeal should be dismissed, saying "I have found no harm from the proposal on the living conditions of the occupiers of 46 Hawthorn Lane, however I have found there would be harm to the character and appearance of the area and the CA. That is the prevailing consideration."
In August 2019 New Care Project submitted another set of revised plans to demolish the two residential properties at 51 to 53 Handforth Road and replace them with a 60 bedroom care home which will be arranged over three floors.
The new scheme proposes 34 car parking spaces, including 4 for disabled use, with one vehicle and one designated pedestrian access point, replacing the two existing driveways.
The revised plans are yet to be determined and can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website.