Planners back residents’ objections

Published on: 03 Aug 2015

RESIDENTS’ objections to a large care home off Cleeve Hill in Downend have been backed by planning officers and councillors.
The developers who want to create the 60-bed home on the former Downend & Fishponds Tennis Club courts have already appealed to the Planning Inspectorate because they say South Gloucestershire Council did not make a decision quickly enough.
But the issue was brought before South Gloucestershire’s Development Control (East) Committee because of the large number of objections from people living in the area, as well as from Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council.
Council planning officers explained that if the authority had been able to determine the application, they would have recommended refusal. They will now prepare a case for the appeal on that basis.
The committee, whose members had previously visited the site, heard that 85 people had written to the council to oppose the plans, mainly on the grounds of loss of green open space, insufficient parking, dangerous access and egress because of poor visibility on the steep hill, and inadequate bus services and road crossings.
Alistair Lightfoot, of 63 Cleeve Hill, said it was disappointing that the developers had made little effort to engage with residents.
He described the proposals as an “ill thought out  land grab” that was contrary to the spirit of planning policy.
Mr Lightfoot, speaking on behalf of many of his neighbours, said their objection was to the size and potential impact of the scheme. Any development should be sympathetic to the local surroundings, he said.
“There will be no disguising its bulk. It will be extremely overbearing,” he said.
Planning officers agreed that the fundamental problem was the scale of the planned building, which would be “significantly at odds with the pattern and character of the surrounding 1930s development”.
They noted that 67 Cleeve Hill was a locally listed building, as an example of a detached  arts and crafts style inter-war villa and was part of the development of the former Cleeve Hill House estate. But concerns were also expressed that before the sitebecame part of the Cleeve Hill estate it was occupied by an a house that later became Dr Fox’s asylum, meaning that there might be archaeological remains.
Downend Councillor Janet Biggin said there was no provision for parking for residents or visitors or a visiting doctor and not enough spaces for staff. The lack of safe pedestrian access, the speed of traffic and the fact that Cleeve Hill was not on a main bus route  made it very difficult to feel this was a good development, she said.

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