Care home for 405 ‘too much’ to ask

Plan­ning of­fi­cer shares vil­lagers’ con­cerns about de­men­tia cen­tre plan

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Zoe Drewett zoe.drewett@trin­i­tymir­

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.

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