A PUBLIC inquiry has been cancelled after an appeal against planning refusal for a ‘care village’ in Catherine-de-Barnes was withdrawn by developers.
But they indicated to the Solihull Observer they are still considering the site.
The proposed development on Hampton Lane was slammed by Solihull residents and councillors over its imposing size and negative effect on the area’s rural character.
It was thrown out by the planning committee of locally elected councillors last October despite being recommended for approval by officers.
And now an appeal which led to the Planning Inspectorate announcing a public inquiry last week has been withdrawn by applicant Richmond Villages.
The inquiry was expected to last until August 16.
We asked Richmond Villages if any further appeal or action will be taken regarding the application or site.
A spokesperson said: “Richmond Villages has confirmed its commitment to the site, should the local council confirm that it’s suitable for a retirement village
“At this stage though the conversations are still between the developers and the local council.
“They’ll discuss the benefits to the local area and whether it’s a suitable site for a retirement village.”
The plan involves the demolition of several buildings and the construction of 13 new building blocks – many three stories.
The main ‘Village Care Centre’ would have 50 care rooms, 49 care suites, a wellness centre, a restaurant and an office.
The luxury village would also include 84 extra care living units presented as either maisonettes, cottages or bungalows.
It was claimed by residents at the planning committee meeting that the development would nearly double the population of Catherine-de-Barnes.
The Planning Inspectorate, an arms length government body, has the power to recommend following a public inquiry that the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government should overturn planning decisions made by elected councillors.
The application had claimed the ‘very special circumstances’ required to satisfy overriding national and local green belt policies exist in this case.
But councillors slammed the ‘massive’ development for breaching policy, saying it was totally inappropriate.
Richmond Villages, owned by private healthcare provider Bupa, argued in its planning application that the ‘very special circumstances’ include the need for care facilities, the lack of alternative suitable sites and the provision of a range of accommodation and employment.
The ‘very special circumstances’ exemption which permits building on greenbelt appears in the government’s National Planning Policy Framework, which otherwise aims to prevent urban sprawl and the unnecessary loss of open greenbelt land.