Appeal over care home plan on Manchester Road allowed

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An appeal has been allowed and planning permission granted to enable a new care home to be built in on Wilmslow.

Care UK have won their appeal to demolish two detached dwellings with detached garages at 107 - 109 Manchester Road and replace them with a two storey care home.

The controversial plans were refused by the Northern Planning Committee in November 2020 when members went against the Planning Officer's recommendation and voted by 8 votes to 2 to refuse Care UK's plans to build a care home containing 60 ensuite bedrooms and parking for 33 cars at the front of the site.

Having considered the main issues of "the effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area, and whether there is a proven need for the proposal" the Planning Inspectorate concluded "Although the proposal would replace two detached dwellings with a single larger building, I am satisfied that the design and appearance of this would not be so different as to be harmful to that established character and appearance.

"In my opinion, the glazed split in the front elevation, combined with the different approaches and appearances of the elements to either side of it would
successfully integrate the proposal with its mixed surroundings."

Regarding proven need for a new care home, the Planning Inspectorate concluded "The evidence of the appellant is compelling in demonstrating that there is a significant current unmet need for care home spaces in the area, and that this need will continue to grow in the future. Evidence from both parties supports the forecast demographic shifts towards an older population, and in particular, a local population aging at a faster rate than elsewhere in the region or country as a whole.

"Even accepting the degree of uncertainty inherent in any forecasting, given the scale of need relative to the scale of the proposal, I find that the evidence
before me is compelling and that it proves a need for the appeal proposal."

Objections were received from 145 properties who raised concerns regarding a lack of car parking, highway safety issues, poor drainage, doctors' surgeries in the area will be overwhelmed, there is not a need in the area for additional care homes, loss of light and overlooking to surrounding adjacent neighbours, the building will be out of character with the surrounding area and public transport is lacking to the site.

Wilmslow Town Council recommended refusal of the application on the grounds of overdevelopment of the site within a low-density area and being contrary to Policy NE6 of the Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan with regards to garden development. They stated "The development is out-of-keeping with the streetscene, particularly in terms of mass. The proposed parking provision is of poor design, insufficient and contrary to Cheshire East Council's policy in respect of care home parking provision."

The plans can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council planning portal by searching for planning reference 20/1560M.

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Roger Bagguley
Friday 19th November 2021 at 9:24 am
Looks lovely doesn't it as portrait in the picture. Now remove the flowers and fill the front with 33 parked vehicles. Put into the picture the neighbouring houses and see how this monster fills up the space that exists today. How much taller this new build will be, how much mass of build will be presented to the street. Is anyone really fooled by the use of tinted glass to give the impression of there being two beautifully designed houses?

Now consider what is behind this front: a huge two storey build that almost fills a long and large garden and stretches beyond the bottom of the gardens of immediate neighbours. Again we are to believe the clever use of tinted glass will break down this mass to appear as a number of single units filling the plot. There will be no loss of privacy. Ridiculous: where else along Manchester Road do you find a plot full of small
detached houses? Of course the use of glass will fail to achieve the effect. What immediate neighbours will be faced with is loss of light to a huge bulk akin to any large commercial building. The whole thing is a monster.

The use of national formulae and questionable extrapolations does not accurately indicate need for care home beds in a given area. Even before Covid, as I recall, some 60 empty beds existed within the care homes around Wilmslow. Not much more than a mile away on Handforth Road a similar 63 bed monster is under construction. I am not alone in asserting there is over provision here in a council area which has a care in the community policy designed to provide individual care within your own home.

The Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan and policy NE6 is about protecting the amenity for local people and increasing biodiversity. What is approved here totally ignores this policy and the wishes of Wilmslow people. Their aspirations for the town wiped out. Localism meaningless.

Having spent many hours objecting to this application over the last two years giving serious thought to compliance with CELPS and WNP policies, I am disgusted with this decision and left feeling very angry.

Roger Bagguley

Residents of Wilmslow (RoW)
Rick Andrews
Friday 19th November 2021 at 10:24 am
Typical CEC - a council which is not fit for purpose and has no regard for residents. Objective seems to be to remove any open space and fill with buildings, especially in Wilmslow.
Chris Neill
Friday 19th November 2021 at 11:24 am
Roger, I feel and sympathise with your passion and frustration against this madness where greed and the goons have prevailed. Apart from the wishes of the neighbourhood and the negative impact on their lives, why is this allowed to go on, at a time when every green space should be treasured and enhanced for obvious reasons. Total hypocrisy.
Jon Newell
Friday 19th November 2021 at 11:37 am
To Rick Andrews.

Your comments are misdirected. As a member of Wilmslow Town Council I have followed this matter closely and have attended all of the hearings before the Northern Planning Committee of CEC and the Planning Inspectorate. I presented the Town Council objection statement at both hearings. The WTC Planning Committee was unanimous in objecting to the application.

I can confirm that the NPC voted by a significant majority to reject the application, having taken into account the residents’ and, indeed, WTC’s objections.

These objections were all included in the CEC written report to the Planning Inspectorate. The Planning Inspector held an informal meeting in Macclesfield. He made reference to all the documents submitted. He was certainly provided with full details of all the objections.


The only person in the process who thinks this application should be approved is the individual Planning Inspector. CEC used all the tools available to it to object to the proposal - it is not CEC that is unfit for purpose; it is the current planning regime.

I share the concerns expressed here. A commercial business housed in an over sized building simply should not be located in an otherwise residential area.

I understand the Inspector’s case but fundamentally disagree with it.

I take particular exception to the comment that “clever design” makes a single building look like two buildings - this seems to be a view shared only by other architects. The same argument was used on the recent Handforth Road Nursing Home application and it equally wrong then. Unfortunately, under planning law, precedent seems to become the rule on subsequent applications - even when it is wrong!

Jon Newell
Residents of Wilmslow
Stuart Redgard
Friday 19th November 2021 at 4:53 pm
Ito objected to this proposal. When I went to the pre-application consultation day I used the Wilmslow Neighbourhood plan as a reason for my objection. I agreed with Jon Newell. It is not when he says that "it is not CEC that is unfit for purpose; it is the current planning regime."
Mark Goldsmith
Saturday 20th November 2021 at 8:07 am
Cheshire East rejected this as did Wilmslow Town Council too.

It is the GOVERNMENTS Planning Inspector that approved it.

Their view was “the government (my bosses) said before Covid-19 that we need more care homes, so I can ignore every planning rule going, local opinions and common sense to approve it. Right I’m off back to Bristol now and I’ll never see this place again”.

There is no right to appeal.

The only way to stop it is for Esther McVey MP to beg the Housing Secretary to reverse the decision. This is very unlikely to happen but we are trying.

Yes the system is broken but we can’t fix it. Only the government can and they like it that councils get the blame for their unpopular actions.

Therefore, be under no illusion that this decision has anything to do with your local councils. We don’t want it as much as you don’t.

Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Wilmslow Town Council and Cheshire East
Cllr. Barry Burkhill
Saturday 20th November 2021 at 8:30 am
It follows a similar appeal decision on Handforth Road last year, where an inspector also allowed an appeal to build a 60 bed care home. We may as well give up on trying to control this kind of development where developers are targeting building unwanted and unnecessary care homes in affluent areas. The inspector did not even consider the need properly and ignored the objections from the NHS/CCG and local doctors. He even stated that there is a proven need when there is none. The Inspectorate needs reforming so that it cannot interfere with local decisions unless we have failed to consider an important relevant Council Planning Policy. The Planning Inspectorate are unelected and yet they have the power, on their own, to alter the character and appearance of an area at will, depending perhaps on which side of the bed they got out of that morning. Government have to decide who is going to make local Planning decisions; is it elected local Councillors, who give their
time in long meetings to carefully reach the correct decision, or a Planning Inspector acting on their own? No one can challenge an Inspector’s decision unless they have very deep pockets so it is not a democratic decision. I really do despair about our country and how carefully reached local Planning decisions can be tossed aside with impunity. Ba
Malcolm Shaw
Saturday 20th November 2021 at 12:23 pm
As one of the many local residents who are directly affected by this development, I am disgusted with the way this whole thing has been handled. Despite initial rejection, with fierce opposition from the vast majority of local residents, local GPs and Cheshire East Council itself, an individual Planning Inspector appointed by the Government, with no connection with the area has simply caved into a high-powered QC engaged by the developers, using largely spurious national statistics and arguments that have little relevance to the situation in Wilmslow. This experience has completely destroyed any faith I had in a planning system that completely ignores local feeling, whilst at the same time is diametrically opposed agreed local development plans and priorities. At best, this outcome flies in the face of local democracy and at worse raises questions of propriety. Needless to say, there has been little interest by our MP so far to support her constituents in opposing this completely inappropriate development and it makes you wonder why not?
Ian Hughes
Saturday 20th November 2021 at 12:23 pm
I rather like the balcony flat with the blue Lamborghini in the driveway.
Alan Brough
Saturday 20th November 2021 at 9:35 pm
If CE Council is so easily ignored, what is their purpose?
Mike Hennessy
Sunday 21st November 2021 at 6:11 pm
I agree with jon newell that the government should be made to answer a whole series of questions as to how and why this decision was made but I assume they will try and avoid scrutiny. However, cheshire east have questions to answer as well, not least why they sent the planning officer who had originally recommended approval of the care home ( only for councillors to overturn it ) to represent them in the hearing with the inspector; where he was faced with a top professional team from Care UK including a QC who does work for the government. And said individual apparently spent much of the meeting with his head in his hands, completely unprepared to combat the arguments put by the QC. We fielded the equivalent of Macclesfield FC’s ground staff ( no offence intended ) against Manchester City’s first team. Why was the head of Planning not sent with the planning officer to defend the councillors’ decision ? As an aside there is a restrictive covenant preventing the use of the site for commercial purposes – said QC is an expert in having restrictive covenants overturned so we know what is coming next, unless we can stop it

secondly, there must have been a loophole in the local plan which allowed the inspector to find in favour of Care UK. Does CEC know what it is, why it existed and what is being done to close it before we get a rash of care home applications ? and is it asking why the inspector was allowed to use national care home statistics to draw the conclusion that Wilmslow needed one when the councillors used local and therefore more relevant ones to conclude we did not ? and finally, what is being done to ensure that Care UK will not succeed with a change of use application once it is clear that the care home will not make money and they decide that blocks of flats are more profitable ( which they presumably know already ) ?
Peter Croome
Wednesday 24th November 2021 at 3:59 pm
Malcolm Shaw's snide comment about our local MP is out of place and quite unwarranted!
Laurie Atterbury
Wednesday 24th November 2021 at 4:08 pm
Ian Hughes, your comments may well turn out to be true. I read somewhere that the developers are aware there is no real need for this so when it fails to get elderly residents they'll simply apply for change of use planning and convert it into luxury apartments.
Simon Rodrigues
Wednesday 24th November 2021 at 4:50 pm
There really is no point, bureaucracy gone wrong. Whats the point when a majority say no it still happens and gets overturned. Really needs investigating, something smells off.
Audrey Youngman
Wednesday 24th November 2021 at 6:55 pm
I wonder what would happen if both Doctors surgeries refused to take any new patients and stated this before the care home is built.
Jon Williams
Wednesday 24th November 2021 at 8:17 pm
Audrey:
Some of the residents may well be registered already with both doctors surgeries
Susan Allan
Thursday 25th November 2021 at 6:16 am
Despite the huge number of objections from local people , despite the objections from local GP’s, despite the report showing lack of need from Adult Care services, despite the plans contravening the Wilmslow Plan, despite the Northern Planning committee rejecting the application ……… it’s approved by someone from Bristol !!!
Does this sound right ? It’s beyond belief and yet our MP cannot intervene apparently . We need an MP who might at least try …….
Mike Hennessy
Thursday 25th November 2021 at 4:35 pm
in fairness to our MP, she has responded to some residents who wrote to her, pointing out that in law there is little she can do, but that she hasnt finished yet and has raised with gove's department. watch this space.
as per my previous comment on sunday, aside the issue of the inspector's independence when Care UK fielded a QC who also works for the government, there needs to be a separate investigation as to how the decision of the NPC was able to be overturned by the inspector when all of us assumed we had a robust, even water tight case; the new owners of 111 bought on that assumption; and in addition if in law the decision is allowable, how did noone on "our" side anticipate the arguments that the inspector used to sidestep the local plans. no investigation means it will happen again. the precedent has been set.
we also need assurances from CEC that they will not budge on the conditions attached to the decision as soon as the developer seeks to renegotiate them. which he will. not to mention the application for change of use
Jon Newell
Thursday 25th November 2021 at 5:30 pm
Residents may not be aware that the objections of the local doctors’ surgeries were “bought off”. The developer has agreed to pay a one off sum of c£20,000 which will be made available to the local surgeries and effectively over rides the objections.
I hasten to add that this has nothing to do with the local surgeries nor with CEC.
The sum is determined by a national formula imposed on both the Planning Inspectorate and the Local Authority by National Govt. I can not be more precise than this but I am looking at where the formula which generates such a derisory sum originates so that the matter can be challenged in the future.
A similar sum was ordered to be paid as a planning condition on Handforth Road nursing home where similar objections were raised by the local surgeries. At the time, I thought the sum ordered was inadequate but I initially assumed it was an annual payment. I was mistaken; it is a one off sum payable only once.
As I say, I can not figure out how such a derisory sum gets to be hard wired into the process to the extent that it does not even come up in discussions- it is simply rubber stamped with the footnote “national formula”.

Jon Newell
Residents of Wilmslow
Pete Taylor
Friday 26th November 2021 at 9:56 am
A quick Google search re Care UK and historic political donations is quite illuminating, especially with the current "cash for peerages" debate.

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