A 20-year slog to replace beds lost in Cranleigh Village Hospital ended in defeat for a charity hell-bent on joining forces with a commercial partner to build an 80-bed private care home in the heart of Cranleigh. The application was refused by 15 votes to 5 with 1 abstention.
After a short hiatus, when members of the Joint Planning Committee were told the applicant had sought a deferment, which was promptly refused by majority vote – Due to Chairman Richard Cole’s role, on Cranleigh Parish Council’s planning committee he felt unable to consider the application with “an open mind,” and left. His deputy David Beaman took the chair.
Cranleigh councillors were not alone in their opposition to a development which has been eagerly awaited for a year. During which time public meetings have been held by objectors, petitions containing over 5,000 signatures raised by Alfold resident Andy Webb. Due to Cranleigh Village Hospital Trust refusal to meet the public who backed them, the mood of objectors grew darker by the day. Three Cranleigh councillors have been verbally attacked in the street by one of its Trustees, a former parish councillor, as a result – the public mood worsened.
Outlining the scheme officer Patrick Arthurs explained why officers concluded that the development in an ASVI – an Area of Strategic Visual Importance – was unacceptable and should be REFUSED. The development would damage the intrinsic character and beauty of countryside beyond the Green Belt, and the impact of the scale and mass of large buildings – a care home/20 community beds and a 26-unit health worker building- must be proportionate to the impact for the principle to be considered acceptable. Harm must be balanced against benefit.
He said previous consents obtained by the charity had lapsed ...
.. the scheme before members was significantly larger and, despite the benefit of community beds did not outweigh the harm the whole development would cause. There was no formal agreement with stakeholders, including Surrey County Council that the community beds would remain in perpetuity. Neither was there any definite evidence of the catchment area it would serve.
This was confirmed in person later by a representative of the Surrey Integrated Care Partnership.
Cllr Patricia Ellis, who called in the application, claimed Cranleigh residents would be “prioritised” She argued the health sector had changed since the original concept of a hospital and day hospital was mooted. She then applauded the superb outpatient, X-Ray, physiotherapy and podiatry and other services now being offered in the old cottage hospital.
There were many excellent nursing homes in and around Cranleigh, but most were “very expensive,” Her claim that the site was accessible to car parks and good public transport was later contradicted by Cllr Paul Follows, who said he relied on public transport every time he visited Cranleigh, and public transport was anything but accessible!
Cllr Gerry Hyman questioned why no Community Infrastructure Levy was charged and why couldn’t he find all the viability statements? He objected to such a huge building, and, against a background of laughter from councillors and the public gallery, said couldn’t understand why there was no highway objection in such a congested road?
Speaking for Cranleigh Parish Council Rowena Tyler said the council had supported the delivery of a Hospital and Day Hospital. The Charity had witnessed the council’s unanimous refusal of this commercial scheme for a profit-making organisation and its reasons for doing so were based on strong planning grounds. The land transfer had included a covenant, and the council had believed the beds would be for the Cranleigh communities use, not for the whole of Surrey. It could not support the hostel, which combined with the 80-bed care home was totally inappropriate overdevelopment in an ASVI. A 1.8metre fence, she argued, would be of no benefit to the community.
Villager Kathy Plank spoke for the 5,000 people who had written in and signed the petition she held. She described the huge fundraising efforts to build a replacement hospital and day hospital; There wasn’t a man, woman or child a business, school or organisation who hadn’t proudly displayed the CVHT logo as they swam, sang, cycled played cricket, football; held tea and bridge parties, and enjoyed the 60th Anniversary D-Day Concert; all of which produced over £1.4m in 10 years. Many bankers orders were made out and money jars filled – and the coffers of the Charity coffers had grown. Legacies were left in Wills.
Alfold Cllr Kevin Deanus lambasted the scheme, saying there were eight good policy reasons for refusing it. First, it came in with a scheme for 2,400 sqm then 4,000 sqm (lapsed) and then 6,180 sqm, a 48% increase – if they had wanted to squeeze any more onto this site they would have needed a crowbar. I will object.
Farnham’s Carole Cockburn said she would be opposing it on its sheer mass and scale.
By the time Cranleigh Cllr Liz Townsend flipped on her microphone, the fate of the scheme was signed and sealed. She registered her concern that SCC only made block bookings of beds for one-year, and the CCG for five years, and reiterated others concerns on the impact on the ASVI.
Not a problem said Cllr Anna James. The borough needed – lots of old people’s homes, and if there were lots of beds in the private care home that weren’t required, then the county council could have even more. Cllr Ellis agreed, if Cranleigh people didn’t want the beds they could be filled by others from elsewhere. However, Cllr Brain Edmonds said: “Well, I certainly wouldn’t want a bed in that home!”
Cllr Jackie Keen believed, although the county council may get the beds it needs, Cranleigh would get all the traffic and yet more development.
Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Follows: wondered what would happen to the community beds if Surrey County Council’s money ran out? What happens when they cannot afford them – will they go into private use? And, I have a real issue with student dormitories, being described as “affordable homes.’
After the vote 15 against, five for and one abstention. The committee went on to consider an application by Surrey County Council to build 91 homes on two school sites in Parsonage Road and off Church lane, Cranleigh was also refused. The subject of another post.
A link to the webcast.
The benefits by way of 20 community beds, 60 private nursing beds and affordable health worker accommodation are not sufficient to outweigh the (visual) harm and adverse (landscape) impacts. It is therefore recommended that permission is refused.
Access opposite Berkeley Homes.
- This proposal is not for a hospital. It primarily seeks to create a large profit-making private care-home. Residents have been grossly misled with regards to community funding;
- Short-sighted and commercially-driven project;
- This is not the right development to meet the needs of the community;
- The land is allocated for a new hospital, not a nursing home;
- A new hospital is required in the village to serve the needs of not only existing residents but all the new residents who will live in Cranleigh in the new residential developments being added to the village;
- Not against the proposals in principle but not on this site;
- Unsatisfactory layout and excessively dense form of development, amounting to an over-development of a small site, adding to the urbanisation of Cranleigh;
- Previous proposals for the site’s development were much smaller in scale;
- The buildings are too big and should be single-storey only;
- Unsatisfactory road access
- Cranleigh cannot accommodate any more new buildings, to protect its integrity as a village and its peaceful character;
- Rowland House, a purpose-built elderly person care-home, was demolished in favour of that site’s redevelopment for affordable housing yet the proposal here is for another care-home;
- The proposal will harm the village in practical, environmental and aesthetic terms;
- Additional traffic in Knowle Lane and greater congestion at the junction of Knowle Lane with Cranleigh High Street, adding to the hazard for both pedestrians and drivers and increasing journey-times;
- The staff accommodation is another way of adding another 26 households to Cranleigh, over and above the large number already permitted;
- The 66 car parking spaces to be provided for the development is insufficient;
- Disturbance, especially due to the 24-hour operation;
- Over-looking and loss of privacy;
- Storage of hazardous materials;
- Loss of trees and wildlife.
The 2005 outline planning permission for a replacement community hospital and health-centre (WA/2003/1778) permitted a building with a footprint of approximately 2,400 sqm (18% of the site area), total floor area of development 4174.65 sqm, with parking for 48 cars, accessed by means of a new access from Knowle Lane (indicative site layout and elevation shown below). A key feature of this proposal is that development would only have occupied the southern half of the site, with the remainder being left undeveloped to provide a spacious landscaped setting for the development. The permission was not implemented.
This was followed by an application in 2006 (WA/2006/0095) for reserved matters, this time in the form of a 3 storey building, with a footprint of 2,180 sqm, but again spaciously situated within the site (16% of site area), and occupying roughly two-thirds of the southern part of the site, with the balance being left as open-space and parking.
There are significant differences between what has previously been proposed and permitted and what is now proposed under the current proposals in terms of the content of the development proposed.
Firstly, previous proposals for the site envisaged the provision of a health- centre, alongside the community hospital. This was not supported by the NHS and led to the development of an alternative health-care strategy, which involved the development of the new health centre in Cranleigh High Street and the upgrade of the former community hospital, to provide an enhanced diagnostic service.
The health centre is, therefore, no longer part of the current proposals because it has already been provided elsewhere.
The question to be addressed, therefore, is whether the large amount of “other” development that is also proposed alongside the community beds would be excessive, unjustified and beyond what is necessary or desirable to deliver the community beds.
It is also necessary to be clear as to the nature of the benefit to the community that will accrue by the provision of these beds.
The provision of the private nursing-beds could also, arguably, be a benefit to the community but whether 60-bed spaces are justified is another matter. A view, therefore, needs to be taken on this important issue too.
Likewise, it needs to be considered whether the provision of health-worker accommodation sought has a benefit to the community and, even if it does, in
the principle, whether the amount of development sought is justified, in terms of it being necessary to ensure the deliverability of the scheme.
The qualifying criteria that patients must meet to be a priority for occupancy of one of the community beds have not been set. The applicant has confirmed that the criteria will be developed with the ICP and this could include a matrix of medical need combined with distance home address is from the new facility.
Residents of the new nursing home will have a range of medical conditions from dementia to end of life care. A patient could start off in need of medical treatment, provided at one of the local hospitals, which then develops into a need for nursing care or end of life care, which might be provided by the occupancy of one of the community beds. The community bed allocation criteria will reflect this range of need and health considerations.
The commitment of the CCG cannot be guaranteed beyond 5 years. This raises the important issue of what might happen to the community beds after 5 years; whether they will still be available to the community, for what purpose and through what mechanism
the nature of the benefit to the community and the extent to which it can be relied upon for the future remains unclear.
Surrey County Council, as social care provider, needs a supply of affordable nursing home provision, within its guide price range, to meet the needs of SCC funded nursing-home residents on a long term basis and, therefore, welcomes the provision of the nursing-home beds proposed, which it sees as helping to meet local needs through the Integrated Care Partnership.
It is proposed to provide two links from the site to the Downs Link bridleway; one to the north of the site and one to the southeast. These will facilitate trips to and from the surrounding area via the Downs Link, including to Cranleigh Village Community Hospital and Cranleigh Medical Centre.