Care home buyer of town centre site?

Posted on September 18, 2009. Filed under: News stories |

Wetherby News | By Susannah Berry | 18 September 2009

A NEW care home could be built on the site of the former St James’s Street NHS Health Centre, the Wetherby News has learned this week.

The news was revealed at a Leeds Civic Hall planning appeal on Tuesday which was being held to determine whether a developer’s last ditch attempt to build a 60-bed care home on green belt land in Linton could go ahead.

Leeds City Council senior planning officer, Victoria Hinchliff-Walker said discussions over the former health centre, situated in Wetherby town centre, had been held with a care home provider for the elderly and a sale was now in its final stages.

Wetherby ward councillor, John Proctor had already said earlier during the hearing: “I am aware a purchase is about to be completed by the end of this week through agent DTZ.

“I am also aware talks have taken place with another care home provider over this particular site in Wetherby.”

The revelation came as an apparent surprise to Leeds-based developer LNT Construction who was appealing for the second time to a Government inspector to build a 60-bed residential and dementia care home at the derelict Cragg Hall Farm off Linton Lane under the Orchard Care Homes banner.

LNT planning manager, Phil Brock said his firm had been interested in the Wetherby town centre site itself after it had come on the market in February 2009 but it had not been a viable acquisition.

“We were priced out after we were informed we were not among the top bidders for the site,” he said during the hearing.

“We’ve obviously been interested to know, along with the Wetherby community, who the new owner of the site is but it does smack me as unusual that today (Tuesday) we find out during our planning appeal for our care home in Linton that a care home provider is buying the town centre site.”

The issue of who had bought the former St James’s Street NHS Health Centre was brought up by the council’s planning representatives as they questioned LNT’s search for a suitable care home site.

The hearing also heard from several Linton residents and the parish council who vehemently believe the major Linton development is simply in the wrong place at the back of Linton Golf Club on the green belt.

Avon Garth resident and landscape designer, Mark Lawrence said any such new build there would end up looking like a “Premier Lodge” and would detrimentally merge Wetherby and Linton together.

Collingham with Linton parish councillor, Glynn Robins said: “The parish council has received almost a plea from local residents that it should object as strongly as possible on the basis that Linton’s green belt will be severely jeopardised.”

But LNT put forward a strong case during the all-day hearing that there is a “critical” need for extra care home provision in Wetherby.

Planning and development manager for LNT, Alistair Wood said: “Having done extensive research in the town there is a very evident need in Wetherby for extra care home provision.

“The care homes in Wetherby are full at the moment and homes in places like Cookridge are 14 miles away.

“There are 10,000 plus people in the principal town of Wetherby so if we are looking a sustainability issue this new facility needs to be in or on the very edge of Wetherby and not somewhere like Boston Spa or Clifford.”

LNT said it had done an extensive site search in Wetherby and it was adamant there were no other suitable sites available other than the Linton one for its particular services which it said could be backed up with evidence.

It also said its development in Linton would not harm the green belt as the land was already half developed with derelict buildings and the care home would be screened.

l Tell us what you think. Send your emails to wetherby.news@ypn.co.uk or write to the Wetherby News, 9 Westgate, Wetherby, LS22 6LL.

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