Care homes plan for Bridgnorth town centre car park set for approval despite opposition

Controversial plans to build a care home on part of a Bridgnorth town centre car park are set to be approved – despite major opposition.

Plans for a care home on part of the Old Smithfield Car Park in Bridgnorth are being recommended for approval.
Plans for a care home on part of the Old Smithfield Car Park in Bridgnorth are being recommended for approval.

LNT Care Developments is asking Shropshire Council for permission to build a 66-bed care home on part of the Old Smithfield Car Park.

The council's planning officers are recommending that the South Planning Committee approves the proposal, at its meeting on Tuesday.

The privately-owned car park was the subject of a previous plan for five shops – which has now been abandoned.

There have been a number of objections to the latest plan, with Bridgnorth Town Council, Worfield & Rudge Parish Council, Astley Abbotts Parish Council, Shropshire Community Health Trust and Shropshire Council's own conservation department all raising issues with the proposal.

A further objection came from Sport England over concerns about the fact that the care home will border the boundary for Bridgnorth Cricket Club – which has used the ground for 150 years.

In a submission to the council, Sport England raised worries about cricket balls hitting the building, its solar panels or even residents.

Bridgnorth Town Council has specifically raised concern over the impact of the building on the Bridgnorth Conservation Area, and the loss of parking spaces.

In a report, planning officer Grahame French said the site was privately owned and parking could be withdrawn at "any time", adding that the previous approval for shops at the location, granted by the Secretary of State on appeal, showed that the loss of parking is considered acceptable.

He said the developers would be providing £83,000 over two years to pay towards potential costs for the local NHS arising from the care home – a move which is deemed to address the objection from Shropshire Community Health Trust.

Mr French's report outlines how the developer has said the home's rear garden area will have a 'large pergola secured by cricket netting'.

He added the the applicant had confirmed "that the netting would be cricket ball proof", "that glass would be cricket ball proof", "that solar roof panels would be resistant to cricket ball impact" and "that additional planting would be undertaken within the site along the boundary with the cricket club".

Mr French added that the company would also communicate with the cricket club "to ensure that access to peripheral garden areas outside of the netted pergola is prevented when matches are occurring".

He said: "It is however considered that sufficient information has now been provided by the applicant to confirm that the risk of cricket ball strikes can be adequately mitigated. Furthermore, it is considered that the proposals represent an improvement relative to the current situation whereby there is no protection between this boundary if the cricket club and publicly accessible areas which have been used for parking."

The report also dismisses the objection from Shropshire Council's own conservation team, which said the design of the three-storey home caused "considerable concern," over its impact on the conservation area and nearby listed buildings.

Recommending the plan is approved, it states: "The design of the care home has been amended in response to comments from the Conservation officer.

"It is considered that the design responds appropriately to its surroundings and can be accepted in this location."

Councillors will decide on the proposal next week.

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