Council unhappy as issues over planned Hucknall brain injury recovery home 'remain unaddressed'

Plans to turn a former care facility in Hucknall into a home for people recovering from brain injuries will go before Ashfield District Council planners again next week.

By Andrew Topping
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 2:56 pm

But papers for the meeting show concerns raised by councillors have not been fully addressed.

The council’s planning committee deferred the application, for the former Elm Tree Rest House on Ogle Street, during a meeting in March over concerns with the management of the site and the facilities proposed for residents.

The building would be turned into a 20-bed house of multiple occupancy (HMO) and act as a supported living environment for people recovering from brain injuries.

Councillors say issues surrounding the plans for the former Elms Rest Care Home have still not been properly resolved

Crossover Consulting and PM Limited brought the proposals before the authority last month, with the initial plans recommended for approval.

But councillors moved to defer the application after a concerned resident spoke in the meeting about the potential noise impact and management of the altered home.

Plans were initially put forward to create four new bedrooms at the former care facility, meaning 20 people would be living on site.

Staff would regularly visit the facility throughout the day to offer support, and all 20 residents would be asked to share one communal kitchen.

During the March meeting, one councillor recommended bringing the number of bedrooms down from 20 to 16, so the facilities broadly reflected the same number of occupants as when it acted as a care home.

Concerns were also raised over the number of parking spaces provided, with seven spaces on offer to accommodate residents, staff and guests at the property.

The applicant told councillors that ‘two-to-three’ spaces would be needed by staff at various parts of the day.

But councillors were also told the parking spaces would not be used by residents given their recoveries from brain-related trauma.

The property’s close location to Hucknall town centre was also deemed to be an adequate remedy to potential parking issues when people are visiting the site.

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However, in deferring the application, councillors asked for a full management plan to be submitted, which they hoped would give residents “peace of mind” that the development would not cause harm to the area.

In revised documents, the applicant states the formal management plan will be finalised by the future site occupier, asking for this measure to be secured via a planning condition rather than via an official document.

The applicant also stated the kitchen facility will be enough to serve all 20 residents, with plans to include four sinks, hobs, ovens, microwaves and fridges.

A communal dining room, the applicant adds, will have seats for eight diners, with not all residents ‘expected to want to eat at the same time’.

And the developer also believes maintaining the site at 20 bedrooms would be ‘appropriate’, given there is an ‘opportunity to redesign the internal layout’ through the refurbishment of the former care facility.

This means the applicant has not reduced the number of bedrooms, as requested by the authority, nor provided a full and detailed management plan.

The application is due before planners again on April 13, and council documents state the applicant has not provided enough information to relay the concerns of councillors.

However, members of the committee will still be recommended to approve the plans based on the original recommendation from last month.

The documents say: “It is disappointing to see that the concerns of members have not been addressed to enhance the quality of life for future occupiers and nearby residents.

“This is despite an opportunity having been provided for concerns to be addressed prior to determination.

“The draft management plan also appears somewhat non-committal.

“It does little to allay the concerns of members, who considered that a full management plan would be required prior to determination so that the full scope of the proposal could be suitably considered.”

A spokesperson for the applicant told councillors in March the site would be ‘appropriately managed’ and assured members the new facility would not cause harm to the area.