Anger as controversial Harolds Way care home scheme is approved

The development site

The development site

There was dismay and anger in the council chamber in Kingswood last night when controversial plans for a 107-bed care home for the elderly in Hanham were given the go-ahead.

South Gloucestershire Council’s Development Control (East) Committee spent a long time discussing Springfield Pension Fund’s outline application which was referred to them by local councillor John Goddard on access and safety grounds in the narrow approaches to Harolds Way.

In 2012, the Springfield Pension Fund lost its appeal, having had planning permission refused by the council for a care home on the overgrown plot running from Magpie Bottom to Harolds Way. But at the time the planning inspector Gyllian Grindey was not worried about access but the closeness of the building to the High Street.

At the end of last year Springfield submitted a revised scheme for a 107-bed care centre in two buildings, the main one being an extension of Harolds Way and the other fronting the High Street near the roundabout, but set further back.

In total more than 70 objections were received from local residents as well as local councillors and Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore.

Local concerns focus on vehicle access via Harolds Way and the fact that the parking situation on residential streets in Hanham has deteriorated noticeably since Hanham Community Centre restricted parking to its own users, leading to a loss of 120 parking spaces. Tesco also has permission to open a store on the old Kleeneze site which when it opens will cause more traffic movements.

Local councillor Heather Goddard said that the possibility of a one-way scheme being introduced at Crews Hole would also push more traffic on to the main A431 in Hanham.

Speaking on behalf of local residents, several of whom were at the meeting, Rob Sutton said the access to the site was “convoluted” and that the traffic report drawn up was four years old.

He said the proposed building fronting the High Street was still overbearing as it was only being moved back by three metres.

Mr Sutton said the developer had made no attempt to communicate with local people about the scheme.

Local councillor John Goddard urged the committee to delay making a decision to allow for a new traffic survey to be carried out.

But planning chiefs considered the scheme provided adequate onsite car parking provision (35 spaces) and would not lead to an increase in on-street parking.

As access had not been an issue for the inspector, it was not felt that could be used as a reason to reject this application.

Cllr Pat Hockey (Lib Dem, Frampton Cotterell) said the inspector had “shot us in the foot” over the access issue.

Outline permission was granted which drew an angry response from the public gallery. One councillor, Gareth Manson (Labour, Woodstock) voted against it and was cheered and thanked by residents.

The developers will come back at some point with detailed plans.