St Albans care home wins planning appeal - and part costs

Demo over fate of London Road trees

Demo over fate of London Road trees - Credit: Archant

Residents have lost their battle to prevent a private care home for more than 80 elderly people being built along a busy St Albans road.

Signature Senior Lifestyle has won a planning appeal against St Albans council’s decision to refuse permission for the demolition of 270-274 London Road and its replacement with a residential care home.

The planning inspector also made a part award of costs against the council because councillors had gone against what was described as a balanced argument in the officer’s report in favour of allowing the application and had not recognised the need to boost the supply of housing land in the district over the next five years.

Neighbours of the scheme had many concerns when it first came to light in 2014, not least its size, its impact on the community and parking concerns.

They launched a campaign to save lime trees on the frontage of the site which they feared would not survive the construction of a large care home although they are protected by tree preservation orders.

Councillors backed their concerns when the application was called into a planning committee by Cllr Robert Donald, partly on the basis that St Albans was only one short of the target for the required number of private care home beds it provided while it was short of socially-funded beds.

But in his appeal decision, planning inspector Anthony Lyman said there were three main issues of consideration - the effect on the area and the impact on the lime trees, whether the loss of three family houses would be outweighed by the provision of a care home and how the development would affect the living conditions of neighbours.

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He felt that as the care home would appear as two buildings when seen from the pavement it would be a sympathetic addition to the area. He also did not believe it would adversely effect the protected lime trees.

On the loss of three family houses, he maintained that would be significantly outweighed by the provision of more than 80 homes for the elderly and did not accept the council’s contention that there was no significant need for more private care home beds in St Albans.

Mr Lynam also felt that neighbours would not suffer as a result of the development.