Hostel plan for WG Grace birthplace

February 24 2017

PLANS have been put forward to convert the Downend birthplace of cricket legend WG Grace into a hostel.

PLANS have been put forward to convert the Downend birthplace of cricket legend WG Grace into a hostel.

The John Turley Memorial Trust wants to turn Downend House in North Street into thirteen studio apartments for people who need housing and care.

The proposal submitted to South Gloucestershire Council says the trust's objectives are “to provide housing and hostel accommodation in the community together with associated facilities and amenities for former psychiatric patients and persons suffering or recovering from mental handicap or disability.”

It says the trust, established in 1994, offers services through specialist professional providers.

However, the application does not say whether any of the planned accommodation at the Grade II listed property  would be for staff. This is a concern raised by Downend and Bromley Heath Parish Council, which says the proposed three to five parking spaces might not be enough.

The parish council has objected to the plans for the 19th century house, currently used as offices and  on the market at £595,000. “This is an inappropriate location for the proposed major change of use,” it said.

The council also asked: “As the property is to be changed to a residential hostel with a total occupancy of 13 rooms for patients with mental health issues, has adequate individual consultation taken place with all neighbouring properties, especially the existing adjacent home which caters for vulnerable dementia sufferers?”

It wants its representatives on South Gloucestershire Council to look into the proposals, saying “[the proposal] will have a major adverse impact on the residents of Downend & Bromley Heath, noting particularly the proximity to school and youth clubs”.

The parish council does not object to the proposed structural changes to the historic property.

The architects for the John Turley Trust say it is looking for “accommodation which can be developed to provide quality self-contained bedsit apartments for an expanding client need”.

The proposals are for each of the studios to have en suite, cooking and storage facilities.

The architects say the development would provide a new lease of life for the neglected building, restoring it to its original significance and blending it in with the neighbouring properties including the recently built Gracefields care home.

They say the change of use to residential care accommodation is consistent with government policy.

The  application can be viewed on the South Gloucestershire Council planning website with the reference PK17/0276/F.