PROPOSALS for retirement housing on the site of the old Bromsgrove Fire Station, library and offices on Windsor Street have been thrown out by district council planners.
The application, put forward by McCarthy & Stone, was a revised one after the previous plans were turned down on several grounds.
They included the development not having a sufficient area for bin lorries to turn around, the pedestrian access to the accommodation being unsuitable and the design of the buildings which officers deemed inappropriate because of the close proximity to older buildings, considered ‘heritage assets’.
Officers said, despite offering advice since the first rejection, the issues raised had not been addressed by the developer.
Darren Humphreys, regional managing director for McCarthy & Stone, said the company was disappointed with the decision, especially in light of the design improvements made and the regeneration benefits offered by the proposals for what was a disused site, including affordable homes for people over 55.
“Our plans also received a high level of local support, including support received from local traders, neighbouring residents and local older people interested in downsizing to retirement accommodation close to the town centre.”
He added there was a considerable need both locally and nationally for this kind of specialist accommodation for older people and the development would also contribute to the overall housing needs of Bromsgrove District Council.
“The local over 65s population is predicted to grow by 67 per cent over the next 20 years.
“The provision of specialist retirement living accommodation significantly increases local housing choice and also helps to release family homes back into the local housing market as older residents move to more appropriate, maintenance free accommodation.”
Speaking against the application at Monday’s meeting was resident Mark Norton who criticised the design of the buildings as being ‘more suited to Birmingham City Centre than being of an aspirational design adjacent to listed buildings’.
And he said there was a wider issue for planners to consider.
“I am passionate about seeing a positive future for the town centre and feel building another retirement block so close to that town centre, when there is already an extensive development ongoing on Recreation Road, would create a negative image of Bromsgrove as a town.
“Thanks to documents provided by McCarthy & Stone, I have found there are already 22 sites for retired people within approximately half a mile of the town centre, and that is not accounting for Recreation Road – surely this is enough.
“Now, sadly, the restriction on this site on this site being used for retail has been dropped, surely a residential development for young people and families would help enhance the image of the town.
“Such people would be more likely to use the nearby leisure facilities in the evenings, increasing business opportunities.”
And he added with it being so close to the bus station, it would be ideal for those working in Worcester, Birmingham, Kidderminster and Redditch by allowing them to travel in a more environmentally friendly way.
* WHAT do you think? Are there too many developments in Bromsgrove for older people? Would it be better to earmark this site for housing for young people and families? Send us your views to email@example.com