St Albans care home scheme rejected

Demo over fate of London Road trees

Demo over fate of London Road trees - Credit: Archant

A care home which would provide the wrong sort of beds has been refused planning permission despite an officer’s recommendation that it be approved.

The scheme from Signature Senior Lifestyle to demolish properties between 270 and 274 London Road, St Albans, and build a private residential care home for 81 people drew numerous objections from surrounding residents.

They were concerned about the height, bulk and scale of the building, its impact on the trees on the frontage, shortage of parking spaces and the strain on existing health care services in St Albans.

The application was called into a St Albans planning committee last week by Cllr Robert Donald who explained that the issue of the need for care home beds in the district had been misinterpreted.

While there was a need for socially-funded beds, St Albans had practically reached the target for the required number of private beds it should provide - it is only one short.

Cllr Donald said: “The issue of need was not proven and we do not need that type of care bed.”

He explained that the size of the care home was also an issue as it would be a continuous building of 76 metres and its construction would mean the loss of the verdant appearance of London Road which had been commented on by a government planning inspector.

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Cllr Donald went on: “Parking was also a big issue, particularly when staff change shifts. The surrounding roads are already under pressure with parking and traffic issues.”

Residents had already launched a campaign to save the lime trees on the front of the site - all of which have tree preservation orders on them - because of their concern that they would not survive the construction of a large care home.

That had also helped to persuade councillors to turn it down. Cllr Donald said: “There are real doubts that the engineering solution put forward would have protected the roots. There was also a daylight issue because there would be a number of on-street rooms and residents there would have complained about the trees and wanted them removed.”

He went on: “The whole thing was unsustainable and it is required to be sustainable.”

But he admitted it was likely the application would go to appeal and residents were already preparing legal representation for that eventuality. He added: “We will have to fight this hard if and when it goes to appeal.”