Plans for care village in Suffolk countryside refused
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Plans to establish a care village in the Suffolk countryside have been unanimously rejected amid a swathe of concerns over access to services, rural impact and health service capacity.
Christchurch Land and Estates Ltd lodged plans to build an 80-bed care home alongside 72 assisted-living two bedroom bungalows, a club house and bowling green on land off Yarmouth Road in Melton, citing the desperate need for retirement living properties.
However, East Suffolk Council's planning south committee last week unanimously agreed to refuse the plans in line with the recommendation by planning officers.
Among the concerns were nearby health services already facing capacity pressures, the impact it would have on the rural character of the area, its poor link to nearby services - many of which were beyond walking distance, and the lack of mix within the properties.
The land is not listed for development in either the local plan or Melton's neighbourhood plan.
Nigel Brown from Melton Parish Council said the site was "within the countryside and outside the defined settlement boundary of Melton village" and developing it "would in effect join up the villages of Melton and Ufford".
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Kathryn Jones from Ufford Parish Council said development would have an "urbanising effect" and added: "Ufford residents are particularly concerned about the effects on local infrastructure and services which are already at capacity".
Ward councillor Rachel Smith-Lyte said public transport was "patchy" and "local services are not within walking distance for many".
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An application had previously been submitted on a larger portion of land there, which was refused. That application went to appeal but was withdrawn prior to a planning inquiry beginning.
Richard Brown, agent on behalf of the developers said nearby GP surgeries were continuing to accept new patients.
He continued: "The proposals respond to an acute need to care homes and assisted care bungalows, and that has been confirmed unequivocally in the adopted local plan and accepted by the council."
Mr Brown said the local plan identified the need for 1,287 retirement homes by 2036 in the district, but no actual allocations for care homes or assisted living bungalows.
Planning officers said it was expected those should be constructed on allocated sites, not greenfield land.
Public comments included 41 in support and 81 objections.