Care UK wins on appeal in Wilmslow

The senior living operator has won through with its plans for a 60-bedroom development on Manchester Road.

The project, on a 1.2-acre site, involves the demolition of two buildings, at 107 and 109 Manchester Road. and attracted the opposition of Wilmslow Town Council and numerous residents ahead of consideration by Cheshire East Council’s northern planning committee a year ago.

Although recommended for approval by officers, Cheshire East refused the application on grounds of over-development, having also previously twice denied another care operator New Care consent on a scheme on nearby Handforth Road. That decision has now been over-ruled.

Care UK said in a statement that “the home will create a large number of new employment opportunities for local people and Care UK is looking forward to working with, and becoming part of, the local community”.

In an appeal decision dated 10 November 2021, Planning Inspector S Dean stated that the two main issues at Manchester Road were the impact on the character and appearance of the area, and whether there was a proven need for the development.

On the visual impact of the scheme designed by KWL Architects, the Inspector said the scheme as proposed is appropriate: “Although the proposal would replace two detached dwellings with a single larger building, I am satisfied that the design and appearance of this would not be so different as to be harmful to that established character and appearance.

“In my opinion, the glazed split in the front elevation, combined with the different approaches and appearances of the elements to either side of it would successfully integrate the proposal with its mixed surroundings. The existing street trees, wide verge and set back from the front of the plot would also successfully tie the proposal to its context.”

Addressing the second matter, the Inspector said that the applicant, advised by sector specialist Healthcare Property Consultants, had demonstrated the need for more care facilities using accepted methodologies.

Dean said: “The evidence of the appellant is compelling in demonstrating that there is a significant current unmet need for care home spaces in the area, and that this need will continue to grow in the future.

“Evidence from both parties supports the forecast demographic shifts towards an older population, and in particular, a local population ageing at a faster rate than elsewhere in the region or country as a whole. Even accepting the degree of uncertainty inherent in any forecasting, given the scale of need relative to the scale of the proposal, I find that the evidence before me is compelling.”

Although the Inspector acknowledged the impact of Covid-19 on the care sector he said there was no reason at this point to think it would alter the long-term need for more care home capacity.

Essex-headquartered Care UK was also advised by planner DLBP and was represented in the appeal by Neil Cameron QC of Landmark Chambers.

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