Plans to replace former nursing home with apartments set for decision


Plans to demolish a redundant nursing home and replace it with a block of retirement apartments in Handforth will be determined by the Northern Planning Committee next week.

Churchill Retirement Living are seeking planning permission to demolish Cypress House, located on the corner of Wilmslow Road and South Acre Drive, and erect a replacement building containing 39 apartments for retirement living along with a guest apartment, communal facilities and 20 car parking spaces.

The existing building, which was used as a nursing home until 2006 has been unoccupied since. The replacement building will contain 25 one bedroom apartments and 14 two bedroom apartments, a reception, owners lounge and one guest suite for family and friends.

Handforth Town Council recommend refusal of the scheme on the grounds that there was no significant change in the number of apartments to improve the parking provision in the area around South Acre Drive; the application does little to address the requirement for increased amenity space for residents; the proposed planting could not mitigate the physical presence of the building and the lack of space around it and the proposal would harm the character and appearance of the area.

Objections were received from 7 addresses, concerns raised include: the building is still sited to the front of the site and would be visually dominant and out of character with the surrounding area; the parking provision is inadequate; at 3 floors it is too high; lack of landscaping space; the concerns of the previous Inspector have not been overcome and it would lead to a lack of privacy and loss of light to the existing dwellings nearby.

The planning officer has recommended refusal of the planning application at the meeting of the Northern Planning Committee on Wednesday, 23rd February.

The planning officer concluded "the comments from the previous Inspector in relation to the impact on the street scene, particularly along South Acre Drive have not been adequately addressed. The proposal introduces a large three storey building almost the entire length of the site with minimal space to the pavement resulting in a dominant building that would be out of keeping with the existing spacious character of the surrounding area. The application is therefore recommended for refusal."

A previous planning application for 45 apartments, on the site of this application (ref: 19/3218M), was subject to a planning appeal in early 2021. The appeal was dismissed due to concerns over the amount and quality of amenity space, particularly external, and the impact on the character of the area due to the limited amount of formal landscaping.

In response, the number of apartments and overall footprint of the building have been reduced to enable the landscaped areas to be increased. The owner's lounge and coffee bar have also been relocated and now open onto a south facing terrace. Additionally, the south and west facing facades having been pulled back away from the boundary.

The revised plans can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website by searching for planning reference 21/3555M.

Cypress House, Northern Planning Committee, Planning Applications


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

Stuart Redgard
Wednesday 16th February 2022 at 5:21 pm
I am pleased to see that the planning officer has recommended the refusal of the planning application.

My father lived in a similar type of development in Harrogate prior to his death in 2013.
From his 11 years of living there, his comments were

1) The communal area was virtually never used. The only time he could recall it being used was when he organised a Christmas carol service on two occasions.

2) There was insufficient parking

3) There was a communal laundry that was insufficient to cope with demand.

4) The guest room was booked most weekends of the year and had to be reserved well in advance
5) The onsite wardens flat was sold and replaced by a part-time office-based member of staff between 9 am and 5 pm Monday to Friday

Having looked at the layout plan for this development I would suggest the following.

1) The communal area is too large

2) There appears to be no communal laundry
3) There appears to be insufficient space for laundry facilities in each flat.
4) There is insufficient car parking provision.

I have sent this feedback to the applicant and hope it will help them to develop a better scheme.
David Smith
Wednesday 16th February 2022 at 10:03 pm
More muppetry from those who run our lives round here!

Where's the logic in knocking down an unused/redundant nursing home with plenty of parking and NEAR to a railway station, pub, shops, doctors, library, bus stops and more - to build homes. THEN recently approve the demolition of two houses not far away [one in Wilmslow and the other in Handforth] in order to build nursing homes that have almost NO parking, miles from shops, a train station, doctor surgeries and more.

Does anyone in charge have a big picture and even bigger PLAN or is it again another example of favouring the property developers?

What do YOU think?
Cllr. Barry Burkhill
Thursday 17th February 2022 at 11:02 am
The application 19/3218M was originally refused by The Northern Committee on 9th September 2020 after the case officer recommended approval in the committee report. Residents and I spoke against the application and in favour of refusal. The committee were persuaded to back us, not easily done against an approval recommendation and decided to refuse the application for the following reason :

"The scale of the proposed development would result in an overdevelopment
of the site leading to a lack of private amenity space, lack of soft landscaping
and a shortfall in car parking provision, having regard to the demographic
profile of future residents . The proposal is therefore contrary to policies
SD2, SE4 and appendix C (parking standards) of the Cheshire East Local
Plan Strategy (CELPS), policies H1, H8, H9 and H11 of the Handforth
Neighbourhood Plan and paragraph 127 of the NPPF".

The applicant appealed the decision but the appointed inspector agreed with us and the appeal was dismissed. This present application 21/3555M seeks to overcome the inspector's decision but the scale to almost the entire length of the site, massing, height, lack of open space and conflict with the existing spacious character of the surrounding area, remain a concern, which has resulted in a recommendation of refusal.
This site is prominent, at the highest point of the area and at the entrance to Handforth and it must reflect the high standard of development coupled with amenity space which we expect for our area.
David Smith
Thursday 17th February 2022 at 12:52 pm
Thank you Councillor Burkhill for a valiant detailed explanation of how those who are elected to represent the local people are doing their best to stand up against the property developers who just see a bit of land as somewhere on which to plonk as many houses as possible with the purpose of making as many £££'s for their own pockets.
You still, however, have to come up against this mysterious, anonymous character called 'the Northern Planning Officer' who I seem to remember in past planning disputes often has the last word and can authorise whatever he/she likes.
It still amazes me that after such a media grabbing COP26 from Glasgow before Christmas there still doesn't seem to be even the slightest lip service towards low energy homes or any dwelling that actually uses VERY little energy [solar panels, heat recovery systems, water saving systems, thermal insulation etc.] with the benefit to the OWNER/OCCUPIER of the property of much reduced energy consumption and bills.
These property developers just don't seem to be on any bandwagon that is looking to saving the planet. This site is perfect for homes WITHOUT car parking - or even a road to the property so they can't even park a car in the street. This would at least be a nod of support in the direction of those who wish to live a life free of the motorcar - of any kind of propulsion. Living this future way of life would be ideal on this site as all amenities are just a few minutes away by foot or pedal. The problem is such dwellings might be in a lower price bracket which will make them ideal purchases for wealthy persons wishing to add to their 'property portfolios' at the expense of those who still dream of owning a home.