Care home plan for car park site risks 'hindering' Bridgnorth

Bridgnorth Town Council has thrown its support behind a movement to stop a controversial proposal to build a nursing home on a town centre car park.

Adrian Tacchi at a previous protest against the car park plans
Adrian Tacchi at a previous protest against the car park plans

The council has voiced its objections to the plans for Smithfield Car Park, saying it would "hinder the growth" of the town and detract from its openness.

LNT Care Developments wants to build a three-storey care home on the old car park, which would initially result in the loss of about 150 spaces.

A planning application submitted to Shropshire Council states the 66-room home would require about 50 full-time staff, who, along with visitors, would make use of 24 dedicated parking bays.

The application comes after planning permission was granted to Ziran Land to build five retail units on the site in 2018, despite it belonging to Sainsbury's at the time, sparking protests across the town.

Bridgnorth Chamber of Commerce raised concerns to Shropshire Council about the possible sale of the car park to a care home developer in 2020, to which planning chiefs denied all knowledge.

In February 2021, Ziran Land bought the car park from Sainsbury's for £1.2 million – with LNT Care Developments listed as a beneficiary.

Viability

A statement from the town council said: "The need for this specialist facility has not been demonstrated. Further, if the facility relies on attracting residents from outside the Bridgnorth area for its commercial viability, this could place undue strain on local facilities and be unsustainable.

"We note that part of the site is within Bridgnorth’s designated town centre, and that the part which is not would be regarded as 'edge of centre' when considering proposals for town centre uses. We consider that developing this land for a non-town centre use may ultimately hinder the growth of Bridgnorth town centre and may be regarded as not an efficient use of land.

"Given extant planning permissions for retail use of the site, evidence of the non-viability of development of the site for main town centre uses should be supplied.

"No heritage impact assessment has been provided. We consider that introducing buildings of this detailing and height to the edge of the Smithfield Car Park, adjoining the cricket ground, would detract from the openness of the street scene and could be detrimental to the nearby Bridgnorth conservation area.

"We further note the loss of car parking that the proposal entails. Whilst we accept that the land is privately owned and there appears to be no obligation on private owners to provide public car parking, we do consider that there is likely to be an excess of car parking demand over supply in Bridgnorth at peak periods and feel that Shropshire Council should review this and put an appropriate transport and parking strategy in place for Bridgnorth as a priority."

Former councillor Adrian Tacchi branded the plans an "utter disgrace", and Bridgnorth Chamber of Commerce chairman Stephen Robbins called for residents to voice their objections. The chamber spent £50,000 fighting proposals in 2018, but Mr Robbins said it didn't have the funds this time around.

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