Care home plans for former school approved

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

First published in News by

PEOPLE in Chipping Norton say they feel their views don't count after plans to convert a former school into a new care home and assisted living development were approved.

Despite pleas to scale down plans for the major development on the Penhurst School site in New Street, they were passed without alteration by planners at West Oxfordshire District Council.

The school for severely disable children was run by Action for Children until it closed last year.

Beechcroft Developments and Porthaven Care Home Group submitted plans for a 55 bed care home and 43 assisted living apartments, which were approved by the Uplands Area planning sub-committee at its meeting on August 4.

The approval came despite strong objections from residents' action group The Penhurst Liaison Group and concerns from the town council.

Mayor of Chipping Norton, Cllr Mike Tysoe, said: “We are very disappointed that planners do not seem to take our comments into consideration.

"We make sensible comments which are completely overruled.”

The Penhurst Liaison Group complained to the town council that the scale of the development was excessive and overbearing for people in Diston’s Lane, and said people were concerned that the height of the main three-storey building would cause loss of privacy.

But despite their objections being supported by the town council, the plans were passed.

District councillor for Chipping Norton, Geoff Saul said: “The town council made their views quite clear and I voted to refuse the plans at the meeting but unfortunately only one other councillor supported me."

He feels councillors may have been influenced by the planning officers' recommendation for approval.

“Councillors were concerned that if they did not pass them the developers would appeal and it was very likely that their appeal would be successful resulting in substantial costs to the council," he said.

Mr Saul had hoped that planning officers would negotiate with developers to reduce the size of the main building from three to two storeys but not enough committee members agreed that the height was an issue.

Councillor Alec Corfield, who is also an architect and town planner, said: “The third storey in the main building seemed only destined to be used for staff changing rooms which could go anywhere, but officers recommended approval of the plan in its present form. We only have the best interests of the people of Chippy at heart and we are fed up with our comments being ignored time and time again.”

Giles Huges, head of planning and housing at the district council, said: “The concerns of residents were considered and there was specific debate over the three-storey element of the proposal. However, because the three-storey element is 50 metres away from neighbouring properties and is in the middle of the site the committee considered that it would not have a detrimental impact.”

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