The ups and downs of planning saw permission granted this week for the demolition of a care home, to be replaced by... a care home.
The site in question is Harvard House in Ringmer which was run and managed by East Sussex County Council until its closure several years ago.
Now the green light has been given by Lewes District Council’s Planning Applications Committee for it to be bulldozed.
In place of the 50-bed building will be a 60-bed facility, the majority of it two-storey but with a three-storey element to provide staff accommodation.
Ringmer Parish Council had strongly supported the revised application, which had made changes to avoid overlooking neighbouring properties and improved access to the site.
The original proposal had attracted 12 letters of objection from residents, raising concerns over an unreasonable increase in the size of the home and potentially dangerous volumes of traffic movement. There were also worries that the new building would not be in keeping, that there would be loss of privacy, increased light pollution and increased noise pollution.
There had also been a petition to preserve the tree at the front of the site.
Amendments to the scheme attracted more muted opposition and a letter of support stating that the care home would provide a much-needed facility when built, create jobs and boost the local construction industry. The planning committee heard that the council’s Tree Officer did not consider the honey locust tree at the site to be of sufficient worth to warrant a Tree Preservation Order.
The application was made by Titleworth Holdings and Galleon Care, private companies that offer care services across the South East region.
The replacement care home would provide 30 bedrooms for nursing care and 30 bedrooms for dementia care.
East Sussex County Council has highlighted the need to provide such facilities to meet the needs of an ageing population, which is projected to increase to 37.4 per cent of the local population by 2026.
Within the Lewes District there is a significantly higher percentage of residents over the age of 65 – 23.7 per cent compared with a national average of 16.7 per cent. This figure is projected to grow to 43 per cent by 2026.
The planning committee on Wednesday accepted the officers’s recommendation that the application be approved.
However, no work should take place until the developer has secured a programme of archaeological work.