Controversial South Chailey care complex for the elderly rejected by council

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The latest plans for a controversial OAP care complex in South Chailey were thrown out on Wednesday.

Members of Lewes District Council’s Planning Applications Committee overwhelmingly rejected the bid to build Gradwell Park, off Mill Lane, despite a recommendation by officers that the scheme be approved.

The Retirement Villages Group Ltd wanted to build 40 extra care flats and a 40-bed care home on the site. The application has been fiercely opposed locally.

Committee members decided the proposal would result in a very large new development in an unsustainable location and not in conformity with any of the planning policy exceptions for new development in the countryside.

The isolated location was considered inappropriate for the uses proposed and the need for a development of this type and scale was not sufficient to override the strong presumption against major development in a rural location poorly served by local amenities and facilities.

Members felt the development would change the character of the area and have a serious detrimental impact on people living near the proposed site.

Opposition campaigner Adam Walker said after the meeting: “The residents and concerned parties who opposed the proposed Gradwell Park development are delighted with the outcome of months and years of hard campaigning.

“The sustained opposition by residents who wrote letters, lobbied their parish councils and did everything possible to engage the wider community, was greatly enhanced by the retention of a planning consultant to present the case as professionally as possible.

“The professionalism of our objections was clear to see and we hope to have seen the back of this approach by Retirement Villages, to other more suitable and sustainable sites elsewhere within the Lewes District. We are intent on securing the use of the site for the good of the community.”

David Phillips, Development Director for Retirement Villages Group Ltd, said: “Despite the strong local need for care in this area of Lewes District and the support of the local Adult Social Care team, the local CCG, and planning officers who recommended the application for approval, members have still taken a different view. This application addressed previous concerns. On this basis, we will now be considering the options of going to appeal.”

An outline application for a much larger scheme at the South Chailey site was submitted to Lewes District Council in 2008. It was for 24 EMI (elderly, mentally ill) rooms, 61 nursing home rooms and 74 close care flats, but was withdrawn prior to consideration.

In 2010 a further outline application was made for a care complex comprising 24 EMI rooms, 30 nursing rooms, 55 extra care flats and a six bed special nursing unit. It was recommended for approval by officers but was refused in June last year.

The council had receieved 75 objections to the latest application (four from one address and four from outside the district). Also 58 ‘survey monkey’ responses, of which nine were outside the district.