Owners hit back after Kenley care home application refused
CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop a developer expanding a Kenley care home are hailing the application's refusal at a dramatic council meeting.
But the owners have since hit back by branding the opposers "unruly", lodging a second appeal with the Bristol-based planning inspectorate and defiantly claiming "the site will ultimately be developed as a care home".
Committee chairman David Osland was forced to remonstrate with protesters who packed out the public gallery at last Thursday's Croydon Council planning committee due to relentless heckling during the owner's agent's speech.
Shouts of "rubbish" and another offensive word which cannot be printed were hurled. Owners of the high-dependency Highfield House want to expand from 27 to 49 bedrooms, but were blocked by six Conservative to five Labour votes. The proposal involves extending the current home on 92 Higher Drive onto land on 94. Among the protesters was local GP Derrick Cutting, who pleaded with council planning chiefs to save local residents from "total ruination".
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Dr Cutting told the meeting: "The thought of expanding to 49 beds with almost 100 staff coming and going at 8am and 8pm is unbearable.
"We're already suffering on-street parking, hazardous exits from side roads and driveways and delivery vehicles obstructing the highway. Granting permission will reward misrepresentation and contempt for regulation. Is it any wonder residents are enraged? Ninety-two has already spoilt the area. Please save us from total ruination."
Council officers recommended granting permission despite more than 100 objections. The site at 92 and 94 has long been the subject of high tempers as one plan to extend was refused on appeal last year, only for the owners to submit another, almost identical, proposal – the plan refused last week.
Ian Coomber, of Stiles Harold Williams, is the agent for the home's owners, Fairlie Healthcare, who spoke in favour of expansion during the meeting. Suggesting councillors voted against simply on the grounds of political popularity, he said: "Anything positive being said was booed and hissed at while anything negative was cheered. It was in that arena the politicians were making a decision.
"They [the protesters] were unruly. It should have been a professional debate about the planning merits of the application.
"We will be appealing with the inspectorate and we are confident that it will ultimately be developed as a care home."
He added the Planning Inspectorate refused the first appeal due to parking and not design. Increased parking as part of the latest appeal would, he claimed, see the plan granted this time.