Care home for 405 ‘too much’ to ask
Planning officer shares villagers’ concerns about dementia centre plan
CONCERNED villagers packed a village hall to grill a borough planning officer about plans for a private dementia care home.
Almost 60 people crammed into Park Lane Village Centre on Monday to hear what Hillingdon Council planning officer Adrian Waite had to say – and many aired their worries about an application to build on land next to Harefield Hospital.
Care company Red and Yellow has applied to build a 405-home centre specialising in the care of people with dementia at the 20-acre site in Hill End Road.
The plan for a dementia ‘village’, submitted to the council in August, includes a health and wellbeing centre, a community restaurant, an arts therapy studio and an education centre, with landscaping and parking space for about 400 cars and 230 cycles.
The applicant says it will create 500 jobs but it was clear that villagers at the meeting set up by Harefield Tenants’ and Residents’ Association (HTRA) are staunchly opposed to the proposals.
HTRA has set up a sub-committee to closely scrutinise the plan. Villagers oppose it because the site is within green belt and they claim the development could have a negative effect on the ecology of both that site and neighbouring Old Park Wood, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Mr Waite said this was also a major concern for council planning officers.
“The fact that it’s a green belt site, that is the biggest issue,” he said. “The council is very concerned with protecting the green belt.”
Despite the designation, Red and Yellow’s planners argue that the land is a previously developed site because Harefield Hospital built temporary wards on the land in the early 1900s. They say that means it can also be considered as ‘brownfield’, reducing the number of restrictions for planning approval.
But Mr Waite reassured people at the meeting that the council’s planning department does not share Red and Yellow’s view.
“We disagree that it is a previously developed site,” he said.
“The fact is Red and Yellow will have to prove very special circumstances for building on the green belt and we have to make a decision on whether those very special circumstances outweigh the harm caused.”
In an information sheet handed out at the meeting, HTRA states: “The proposed development is not in the interests of the local people of Harefield, it is not an NHS dementia village and has no connection to Harefield Hospital.”
Other objections include the increase in traffic, which villagers claim could have an effect on narrow village roads and potentially restrict emergency access to Harefield Hospital. Villagers also argued it would put a huge strain on local services, including the GP surgery, without any local need for the development, and that the catchment area would spread from Bedfordshire to Surrey.
“They are asking too much of this community,” one HTRA member said.