Efforts to find a care home provider willing to operate from Leighton Buzzard’s former police station site will be stepped up after outline permission was granted for the land’s development.
But one resident who spoke at Wednesday’s development control committee of Central Beds Council will be dismayed at the decision, after telling the committee of the severe impact the scheme would have on his family.
Samuel Towe said his Hockliffe Road home would be overlooked by the new building which would have up to 68 bedrooms.
He said: “The police station is two storey, if planning permission is granted my house would be severely overlooked by the three storey building directly facing my garden and rear of my house.”
He added: “Hockliffe Road is already an incredibly busy road and well beyond capacity when it comes to traffic flow and parking. This will only worsen with the proposed build. The entrance to the care home is directly adjacent to my property, five metres from my front door.”
He said there would be considerable disturbance during the demolition and build phases as well as when the home was in operation, adding: “What is going to be done to compensate residents directly affected by the new building? Both direct neighbours have moved properties due to this.”
Central Beds Council submitted the outline planning application for the 1.11 acre site after completing the purchase of the land in November last year for £930,000.
Simon Tindle, for Barford&Co, the council’s agent, pointed out the plans were only indicative at this stage and matters of layout access, scale and landscaping would be considered when a reserved matters application was brought forward by a care home operator once one had been indentified.
He said privacy for neighbouring properties had been highlighted as one of the key constraints of the site early on, but said a “suitable separation distance” between neighbouring properties could be achieved.
Ward councillor Brian Spurr said he felt the condition attached to the outline permission would give Mr Towe some protection and added that the detail of how the site would be developed would not be settled until later on.
He added that he wished to see works contained within the site with vehicles not parked in Hockliffe Road when the build took place.
A planning officer added that the distance between Mr Towe’s property and the new care home would be greater than the minimum 21 metres set in CBC’s design guide.
He said there would be a constuction management plan to ensure work took place at reasonable hours.
Cllr Tom Nichols said he supported the plan, adding: “It is going to be a useful and important facility for Leighton Buzzard and outer areas.”
Cllr Mike Blair said the concept was fine, but expressed concern about market forces.
He said: “It’s very disturbing that West Central Beds is deficient in [care home] places when a short time ago we lost an approved care home in Ampthill due to developers being unable to find a care home operator who was willing to pay their price.
“How are we going to protect the intention to have a care home when ultimately it is going to have to be marketed and the normal market forces as regards funding for a care home will apply, the same that applied in Ampthill and which led to an inability to bridge that gap?”
He said the Ampthill site was now totally housing.
Cllr Ray Berry pointed out Leighton-Linslade Town Council supported the plan, particularly with the likely closure of Westlands Care Home.
He said: “We are going to need the care home, as a town and as Central Beds. It’s an admirable use of the site. The facility is essential. Access is much better than to the old police station.”
> The vote went 9-0 in favour of the outline plan, with one abstention.