Controversial care home plans rejected

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to convert a former care home into student flats have been rejected by councillors.

Planning committee members have refused developers planning permission to transform the Edwardian Wearcourt building, in Rock Lodge Road, Roker, into 33 units.

The move had attracted opposition from residents, who submitted a 59-signature petition branding it an “over development” of the site.

Neighbours also argued it was out of keeping with the rest of the area and would cause late-night noise and disturbance as well as traffic problems.

However, a decision on the change of use application has now been made at a meeting of the development control north area sub-committee, whose members agreed with many of the householders’ concerns.

Council planning officers had earlier recommended the proposals for approval, arguing that the enforcement of a management plan – submitted by applicant Moorlands Care Homes – should ensure occupants behave respectfully and the facility is run in a “considerate manner”.

They concluded: “It is considered that the proposed change of use of the building to a house of multi-occupation is acceptable in principle given the prevailing residential land use in the locality.

“The proposed use of the building may have some impact on the character of the area, given the likely changes to the frequency and timing of movements to and from the premises.

“But the arrangement of other residential properties in the area should mean the amenity of occupiers of those buildings will not be unacceptably harmed as a result of the change of use.”

As part of the application, the developers said the accommodation was aimed at “more mature, foreign post-graduate students” who are “unlikely to be noisy or particularly active late at night”.

They also explained other possible uses for the building had been explored, but there was no demand for a care home, regular apartments, and the cost of refitting it as a single family home was prohibitive.

They said that if it remained empty, it would become derelict and vandalised.

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