Chris McGoff, chief executive of New Care, has called for the resignation of a Warrington councillor over what he claims are “inaccurate, inappropriate, and misleading” comments about the developer’s application for a mixed-use scheme in Lymm.
McGoff has taken action after Liberal Democrat representative for Lymm North and Thelwall, Cllr Ian Marks, accused New Care of being “a greedy developer completely ignoring the community in which the site is located”.
In an email to Warrington Council’s planning department, Marks objected to New Care’s plan to build a care facility on the site of the Macdonald Hotel on Whitbarrow Road, and claimed the proposals would be “gross over-development” of the site.
Marks also said the traffic generated by the project would be “horrendous and quite unacceptable” and added: “I cannot believe you will approve [the application], but if you were minded to do so, I request that it be taken to the Development Management Committee for determination with a site visit beforehand.”
“I urge you to send this back to the drawing board and ask the owner and developer to come back with a scheme that hopefully retains the hotel and is acceptable to the community of Lymm.”
New Care’s proposals cover a plot of land bordered by the Bridgewater Canal, Statham Avenue, Statham Close, and Whitbarrow Road.
The planning application features a 66-bed care home, a children’s day care centre, and elderly care apartments. New Care said the application said the proposals had “full support” of Macdonald Hotels “due to the loss-making nature of the current hotel”.
Hitting out at the councillor’s comments, McGoff said they were “highly offensive” and “completely hypocritical”.
“Only as recently as July, Mr Marks was quoted in the Warrington Guardian highlighting the lack of social care in the area and calling for better joined up thinking’ to avoid more ‘years of misery where the sick, vulnerable and elderly are repeatedly let down’.
“He is playing politics at the expense of potentially depriving the delivery of much needed fit-for-purpose facilities in an area where there is a proven and well documented shortage and in our view is potentially technically misrepresenting the application.”
The application has, however, attracted a significant number of objections from local residents, where a number of neighbours have raised concerns over traffic and pressure on local services.
A previous application by New Care was also refused by Warrington Council in 2017. This featured a 72-bed care home, an 120-capacity nursery, and 52 retirement flats, meaning the latest application is significantly smaller than the previous scheme.
As a result, McGoff said he “entirely objected to the accusation of being a greedy developer,” as levelled by Cllr Marks.
“As this is not a quick return investment often associated with the build and sell of open market housing. These are purpose-built care facilities that we build, retain and operate from, with a very lengthy return on investment and we are in this for the long haul.”
“Accusing us of being ‘greedy’ will undoubtedly lead to some people forming a negative opinion about the business, and in turn this application, which could then lead to its refusal.
“Furthermore, his throwaway comments could potentially be responsible for denying local people the private investment that could enable them to benefit from high quality local care and stay in the village where they have always lived.
“In addition, given that the extant permission is significantly bigger than the new proposal, which will be viewed as a material consideration at the ensuing appeal, he is also exposing the local council taxpayer to a massive potential financial claim for costs should the application be passed. We will have no alternative but to seek the same should we have to pursue this route to gain an approval.
“Notwithstanding the course of the application though, the ‘developerphobic’ comments made by Cllr Marks are completely inappropriate in this day and age and he must resign now or be removed from his post.”
Warrington Council has been contacted for comment.