Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Knowle care home plan approved

PLANS for a 60-bed care home for Knowle have been approved.

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The plan for land at Old Silhillians Sports Club, Warwick Road has won planning permission.

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s planning committee last August supported the plan but said it needed the backing of the Government’s National Planning Casework Unit.

The club wants to sell the land – currently occupied by a caretakers’ cottage close to the entrance – to put £1.2m to a £1.5m refurbishment and extension to the club house.

The two to three-storey care home – by Gracewell Healthcare – would cater for people with dementia and create 38 full-time and 30 part-time jobs and 23 parking spaces.

In December 2012, the committee rejected the scheme as the benefits to the club do “not outweigh the substantial harm to the Green Belt”.

Yet Gracewell supplied further information arguing there was a lack of suitable care facilities in the borough.

The building has the “smallest size possible” and the site is the only one “suitable, available and deliverable” a council officers’ report said. To see visualisations of how it will look from the road click here.

As the land is in the Green Belt, the plan would have to fall under “very special circumstances” planning laws.

The 2013 report said: “For reasons of the important function the club fulfils in the provision of play space vs the threat to its future survival of the club, it is considered that this case does amount to very special circumstances.”

It said the clubhouse needs re-wiring, heating improvements and better changing rooms as these do not meet sporting standards.

Some 56 residents wrote to the council to support the plan with a 113-signature petition and letters from Sport England; The FA; England Hockey Board; and the Rugby Football Union.

One said: “Through providing investment in the clubhouse the care home scheme will be directly investing in Solihull’s amateur sports community and help sustain independent sports clubs at this site.”

Three neighbours objected with one saying: “The scale, height and massing of the proposed care home buildings far exceeds the previously developed extent of the site.”

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