‘Alternative’ plan hope for developer after Whitchurch medical centre plan is rejected
The organisation behind rejected plans to demolish an historic Whitchurch mansion for new sheltered accommodation and a medical centre has said it will consider alternative options.
Council planning officers had recommended the application was refused, but it was only thrown out on the chairman's casting vote after the committee was deadlocked at 4-4.
The proposal had been to demolish the Pauls Moss building, and to build 74 supported residential units, a health centre, a pharmacy, cafe, and community rooms, in its place.
The application had proved divisive, with campaigners arguing against the loss of an historic building, but a number of supporters insisting it was essential to prevent a collapse in medical care in the town.
Council planning officers had made their recommendation based on what they said would be the development's impact on the Whitchurch Conservation Area.
They had also objected to the scale of the development.
A spokesman for the Wrekin Housing Trust said they would now look at what could be done with the site.
He said: "We are disappointed that the planning committee has narrowly voted to reject our proposal for the redevelopment of Pauls Moss.
"We believe that the scheme would have delivered considerable health and economic benefits to the local community and it is a shame that this will no longer be realised.
"We would like to thank our supporters, particularly in the Whitchurch Patients Group for sharing our vision. We will now take some time to consider alternative options for the site."
The trust had come in for some criticism during the planning meeting, with Joyce Barrow, Shropshire Councillor for St Oswald, suggesting that the medical centre had been used as blackmail in an attempt to get the application approved.
Despite her concerns Councillor Barrow voted to approve the plans, which she said were in the best interests of the people of Whitchurch.
Councillor Vince Hunt, who represents Oswestry West, said that the issue of a medical practice should have been solved by Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
He said: "I think it is almost reprehensible that there is not a facility being built at this very moment but I think it is something for the CCG to address, not the planning committee."
Councillor Thomas Biggins, who represents also Whitchurch North, had also told the committee that the town faces a crisis in GP care, with the closure of one practice, and the planned retirement of two partner GPs.
He said: "This new medical centre will attract young doctors into the town but without it as on GP said, we are looking at a medical catastrophe in Whitchurch.
"It would not be perfect, and certainly needs more care parking, but as a Whitchurch councillor I am not prepared to risk the lives of Whitchurch residents."