Health centre and homes plan for Whitchurch mansion face defeat
Controversial plans to demolish an historic mansion in Whitchurch and replace it with dozens of supported living homes, a medical centre and cafe have been recommended for refusal.
Wrekin Housing wanted to demolish Pauls Moss House and transform the area into a new community.
It would feature 74 assisted living units inside one main building, a medical centre, pharmacy, a community hub, cafe and 84 parking spaces, along with other facilities.
But Shropshire Council’s North Planning Committee has been recommended to refuse the application when it meets next Tuesday.
Planning officers say the loss of Pauls Moss would harm the historic nature of the area and that the development is too large scale.
In his report to the committee, Philip Mullineux, senior planning case manager for the council, said it represented over development of the site.
He said: “The boundary of the Whitchurch Conservation Area was drawn to incorporate the Pauls Moss mansion when designated in 1987 and this building is considered specifically to make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area by virtue of its design, detailing, historic character and visual significance within the site.
“The proposed demolition of the Pauls Moss house would cause total loss of a non-designated heritage asset and substantial harm to the significance of the Conservation Area which is a designated heritage asset.
“Whilst the community benefits of the scheme are acknowledged insufficient justification has been provided in order to justify the substantial harm to a designated heritage asset. Therefore the application does not comply with the National Planning Policy Framework.”
He added: “The application proposes development of a scale and mass that is considered to represent over-development of the site, incongruous to the built form and urban grain of the surrounding area, which will therefore have an overbearing detrimental impact on the character of the surrounding area. The design and external construction materials of the development are not considered to provide any enhancement to the surrounding Conservation Area.”
Mr Mullineux added that he felt the proposed development did not offer enough open space.
He added: “Landscaping provision on a site considered over development.
“Further still, it has not been adequately demonstrated that off-site provision and connectivity can be provided as indicated in the information submitted in support of the application.”
The plans had come under fire from many residents, but was supported by Whitchurch Town Council, which said there was a great need for a new medical centre.
In supporting the application it said: “Whitchurch Town Council takes on board the general concerns raised by residents, however there is a need for a medical centre in Whitchurch and therefore this council supports the development.
”The Pauls Moss building is in poor repair apart from the entrance hall, therefore Whitchurch Town Council request that the developers consider incorporating some artefacts from the current building into the new centre.”
The committee will meet at Shirehall at 2pm next Tuesday.
Medical centre funding warning
A major opportunity to revitalise Whitchurch’s healthcare provision and create new jobs is now under threat, according to a developer.
Wayne Gethings, chief executive of The Wrekin Housing Group, said he was “deeply disappointed” that Shropshire Council planners were not supporting the Pauls Moss scheme.
Mr Gethings said it was possible that funding opportunities needed to bring a new medical centre to the town would now run out.
“It is deeply disappointing and frustrating that Shropshire Council’s planning officers have recommended the planning committee refuses the application,” he said.
“You have to consider the big picture, because we have just one opportunity to create something special – a vibrant wellbeing hub which is desperately needed in Whitchurch.”
Shropshire Council’s north planning committee will meet next Tuesday to make a decision on the development, and Mr Gethings is still hopeful of a positive outcome.
“We’re currently in a position to deliver a unique and innovative development,” he added.
“The funding opportunities have been clearly defined. It’s crucial that we have a positive decision at the next planning hearing, as any deferment would see this partnership scheme not go ahead and a great opportunity for the town lost forever.
“Our plans for Pauls Moss were developed with input from our project partners and it is clear to us that to maximise health and medical benefits we need to create a wholly new building that considers the local area but is at a scale to make a real difference to the town and surrounding area.”
The Pauls Moss site needs to meet set milestones by March 2021 in order to qualify for funding streams.