A CARE home in Fernhurst has been lambasted by South Downs National Park Authority planners after ‘failing’ to communicate with residents and officers.
Two planning applications for Rosemary Park were put to the planning committee on Thursday: for a 12-room extension to the nursing home; and for 20 ensuite bedrooms at the St Magnus specialist unit. Despite being part of the same complex – reached by one country lane – committee members agreed to grant planning permission for the larger development at St Magnus.
The care home extension was recommended for refusal by officer Pat Aird who described the design as ‘completely out of character’.
“We have had discussions but the applicant has made no movement in changing the design,” she said.
Cllr Doug Jones said: “Better pre-application discussion from the applicant might have saved public money.”
Sarah Bain spoke on behalf of Fernhurst residents. “At no point has this care home made the slightest effort to inform the parish council of their plans,” she said. “Daily we despair about the traffic blocking the lane. There is persistent potholing.”
A total of 92 objection letters were sent to South Downs National Park Authority from residents determined to fight the applications.
Cllr Barbara Holyome said the developers were ‘incapable’ of talking to residents, despite protestations from the agent for the applicant, Ian Donohue, who said the care home had ‘once’ attended a parish council meeting.
He also said there was a ‘proven need’ for additional beds in both facilities.
Jo Randall, operations and nursing director, highlighted the needs of the patients, whose needs had been mentioned ‘very little’.
Committee member Charles Peck said: “The need for care is clearly growing.
“However, the owner is standing defiantly against the community and we are dealing with hostility from the community. We are greeted with lack of management plans.
“We have to meet the aspirations of our community. What we have here is an application which will expand this area.
“Everyone is passing the buck. The inspector is passing the buck to the committee today. This is not why I came in to the National Park. Clearly we have got it wrong here.
“We can blame our limited position only so far. With 162 patients we are going to have a lot of traffic.”
Six members of the committee voted in favour of the plans for the St Magnus extension and one voted against.