New village for elderlygiven go ahead by city

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A new village just for elderly people has been approved, subject to conditions, by Leeds City Council planning chiefs.

Audley Court Ltd submitted plans to redevelop a site at Scarcroft Lodge in Wetherby Road into a 172-home “community care village” along with car parking and communal facilities.

Plans include keeping the existing lodges as houses, while existing office buildings will be demolished to accommodate the new cottages.

The meeting also heard how measures should be requested to protect houses from a nearby cricket pitch.

Speaking during discussions on the site, Coun Dawn Collins (Con) asked: “There appears to be no pavements on the CGI image - is this going to be pedestrianised or is there another reason why there is no pavement?”

A council planning officer responded: “It’s a highly accessible development for people with wheelchairs, sight and mobility problems. When cars enter the site, they will realise a change of surface and realise they need to slow down.”

Representing the applicants, Benedict Crowther added: “Our traffic usage [on our other sites] is very very low. The best way of dealing with pedestrians and vehicles is having shared surfaces. We found that having curbs is very dangerous for people with sight impairments.

“We haven’t had any accidents and are very content with this.”

There were also concerns raised about the closeness of an existing cricket pitch to the site, with suggestions that netting between the pitch and the housing would stop balls being hit towards the residents.

Responding to the suggestions, Coun Barry Anderson (Con) said: “Your average cricket player could not clear the pitch and the trees and reach those houses.

“Even most of the England players playing at Headingley couldn’t - maybe Johnny Bairstow could, but the rest could not.”

Chairing the meeting, Coun Kevin Ritchie (Lab) said: “It’s a development which strays into the green belt, it’s laid out in the report the special circumstances that have to be met, and I think they have been met.

“I think it’s a good plan and I’m pleased with it - I am likely to support it, perhaps with additions in the process, such as how we sort out the cricket pitch.”

A report into the plans by Leeds City Council officers added: “It is understood that the average age of an occupant being cared for at the proposed community care village would be 79 years of age and level of care offered would range from flexible care right through to high level 24-hour care including monitoring three times per day.

“The development would be built out by the applicants who would go on to be the care provider.”

The report concluded: “In terms of the planning balance, taking into account all factors, officers consider that subject to conditions and the completion of a legal agreement to secure the restoration of Scarcroft Lodge, Grade II Listed Building, landscape buffer scheme to the north, east and south of the application site and future management plan, it is officers view that the proposed development delivers sustainable development and accords with national and local policy in respect of the Green Belt by demonstrating that very special circumstances exist which outweigh the harm to the Green Belt.

“It is therefore considered that the proposal is acceptable in Green Belt terms. Therefore, the application is recommended for defer and delegate approval to the Chief Planning Officer subject to a legal agreement to secure developer obligations listed at the beginning of this report.”

The meeting agreed to defer and delegate to the planning officers for approval.

Coun Ritchie said: “It looks like an exciting scheme, so we wish you well with it. We look forward to seeing it in operation.”