Care village plan for Solihull countryside will override green belt protection if approved tonight - The Solihull Observer

Care village plan for Solihull countryside will override green belt protection if approved tonight

Solihull Editorial 3rd Oct, 2018 Updated: 3rd Oct, 2018   0

PLANS to build a ‘care village’ in Solihull borough look set for approval despite harm to the environment – overriding greenbelt protections.

A council officer’s report to Solihull’s planning committee recommends the application, while accepting it will detract from the countryside’s character.

It claims the ‘very special circumstances’ required to satisfy national and local green belt policies exist in this case.

The report, presented to the committee today (October 3), states there is a ‘critical undersupply’ of care accommodation in the borough.

Due to a rapidly ageing population, the council says there is a shortfall of 214 elderly care home beds, and 337 extra care units.

Plans involve the demolition of several buildings and the construction of 13 new luxury building blocks – many three stories.

The main ‘Village Care Centre’ will have 50 care rooms, 49 care suites, a full wellness centre, a restaurant and an office.

The village will also include 84 extra care living units presented as either maisonettes, cottages or bungalows.

The application site is near Hampton Lane and Friday Lane near Catherine-de-Barnes.

The council officer’s report states: “The proposal represents inappropriate development in the greenbelt that is harmful to openness by definition and to the purposes of including land within the greenbelt.

“In addition, the proposal will detract from the open rural character of the site.

“Notwithstanding this, the proposal is of a high quality design, it will not be harmful to any important trees on or adjacent to the site, it will not be detrimental to residential amenity or highway safety, and with adequate mitigation it will not be prejudicial to protected species.

“With this borne in mind it is considered that very special circumstances have been sufficiently demonstrated that outweigh the harm to the greenbelt and any other harm and as such there is no reason to withhold the granting of planning permission for this much needed form of development.”

It adds: “The need case is based on a demographic of the increasing needs of an ageing population for care facilities and the assessment of sites is based on the requirements of sites large enough to accommodate a proposal of this scale.”

The report also states more than 120 jobs would be created.

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.

The applicant 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.

Following a public consultation, 12 parties have formally objected to the application while 11 people registered their support.

The Canal and River Trust has also objected on grounds of overuse of a towpath on a nearby canal.

If the planning committee approves the application, it could potentially go to appeal.


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