A CARE HOME provider has lost an appeal over a ‘care village’ in Catherine-de-Barnes.
Richmond Villages, which is part of healthcare group Bupa, appealed to the Planning Inspectorate over Solihull Council’s decision to throw out its application in October 2018.
Proposals for 71 retirement apartments at Oak Farm, close to the Grand Union canal, were seen as ‘an inappropriate development in the green belt’ by planning inspectors.
As reported in the Observer last year, the development on Hampton Lane was condemned by Solihull residents and councillors over its imposing size and ‘negative effect’ on the area’s rural character.
It was rejected by the planning committee in 2018 despite being recommended for approval by officers.
Following the refusal of planning permission, Richmond Villages withdrew its appeal, but then resubmitted it in late 2019.
An inquiry was held over January 2020, but the inspectorate sided with Solihull council planners – citing green belt impact and traffic concerns.
Following a site visit to Oak Farm, the inspector said: “Plans amount to just below 19,000 square metres of floorspace and accommodation ranging between one and three floors.
“The buildings would occupy a large part of the site, spread around in blocks of development, along with car parking and the access road.
“[The buildings] would make a significant, harmful and extensive reduction in openness both spatially and visually.”
The developers, Minton Ltd, had claimed the offer of aged care meant green belt rules could be waived for ‘very special circumstances’.
But residents told councillors the development would nearly double the population of Catherine-de-Barnes.
Inspector Katie McDonald said: “For very special circumstances to exist, the other considerations would need to clearly outweigh the substantial harm to the green belt.”
“Special circumstances necessary to justify the proposed development have not been demonstrated and it falls that the appeal should be dismissed.”
Bupa’s planning application stated the ‘very special circumstances’ included aneed for care facilities, the lack of alternative suitable sites and the provision of a range of accommodation and employment.