Mixed response to plans to convert former school

Cotswold Journal: PAST TIMES: Penhurst School pictured back in the 1930s. Picture: Action for Children PAST TIMES: Penhurst School pictured back in the 1930s. Picture: Action for Children

A FORMER school for severely disabled children in Chipping Norton could be converted into a care home and assisted living units if plans get the go ahead.

West Oxfordshire District Council is considering the application for the former Action for Children-run Penhurst School, New Street, which includes the retention of John Cory House and Cottage, the demolition of redundant buildings and the conversion of Monks Dene to allow for the new care home.

The plans by Beechcroft Developments and Porthaven Care Home Group, include a 58-bed care home and43 assisted living apartments and houses for the elderly.

The proposals have caused some discussion with residents living nearby to the site, who have formed the Penhurst Liaison Group (PLG), who say while they support the development in principle they have some concerns.

In a written statement to the town council, they said: “We acknowledge many of the buildings on the site are of no architectural merit.

"We also acknowledge the public and individual consultation the developers have afforded us. However the plans now presented do not address all of our concerns.”

Their issues include the “excessive” scale and mass of the care home building making it overbearing to a property in Diston’s Lane and worries about the height of buildings and loss of privacy.

Discussing the plans at last week's meeting, town councillors echoed some of their concerns.

Mayor Mike Tysoe said: “I think the general conclusion is the development is such we don’t object to but we do object to the large mass of the new care home which is going to be three storeys.

“We would very much like to see if they can get that down to two storeys. We would also like to see some figures about heights which are remarkably lacking from the plans.”

Councillor Alex Corfield added: “That middle block should be reduced in height in respect of the properties of Diston's Lane.”

The design and access statement, prepared on the developers' behalf by BHP Harwood, says: "The proposed development has been designed to avoid any adverse impact on the adjoining properties.

"Particular care has been taken in the design of the massing of the Care Home in proximity to the residential properties in Diston's Lane.

"The redevelopment of the site will make significant improvements to the character and appearance of the locality and these latest proposals offer a viable and sympathetic strategy that will prove a more sustainable development in the future."

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