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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

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Failed Cumbrian flats scheme back on the table

Rejected plans to build homes for the elderly are set to be put back on the table.

David Sheard photo
David Sheard

Impact Housing Association is poised to resurrect proposals for 38 extra care flats at the Irthing Centre in Brampton.

These were first put forward by Brampton & Beyond Community Trust last year and refused planning permission by Carlisle City Council.

The group appealed this decision but the Planning Inspectorate upheld the authority’s judgement.

However, a Cumbria County Council official told a meeting of the town’s parish council the housing association has adapted these plans and dealt with the concerns brought up.

David Sheard, an area support manager with the authority, told members he would like to see them support the idea.

He said: “We have been trying to look at various sites for facilities like extra care housing and, basically, there is no other site around the area that is appropriate apart from this one.”

Extra care flats are designed to house senior citizens who need assistance but want to carry on living independently.

In Brampton, the flats would replace a disused part of the Irthing Centre, which was originally used as a business and conference centre.

The plans were rejected by the city council’s development control committee

Grounds given included that the building would have had an impact on the privacy of neighbouring properties; three protected trees would have needed to be chopped down; the internal layout, closeness to trees and access and parking arrangements would not have created a good living environment for residents; and the building would have been out of character with other structures.

Mr Sheard said Impact had looked into these issues and had altered the plans accordingly.

He added that the housing association had hoped to submit a formal application before Christmas but was unsure if this would now happen.

Funding for the project can only be secured after planning permission has been granted and there is a short timescale for this.

The Homes and Communities Agency, responsible for regulating social housing, has made funds available for housing associations to build properties but projects receiving this money must start building work next year and complete it by March 2015.

Mr Sheard added that the extra care flats would be a replacement for the county council’s care home Moot Lodge, on Front Street.

“All of us are clear that, looking forward 20 years, this type of facility is not what anybody would want,” he said. “This is 1920s-style care and we want to get away from that.”

However, he was keen to stress the council currently had no plans to close the home.

If the project goes ahead, the county council plans to transfer its ownership of the land the Irthing Centre is on to Brampton & Beyond, which would then charge rent to Impact and use to fund its own projects.

Mr Sheard called on the parish council, once the planning application is submitted, to make clear it supports the principle of extra care housing on the site.

“If we don’t get it through this time I don’t know when we will get the funding again to make this happen.”

Councillor Margaret Smith said: “In principle it is a good idea, I think as a parish council we should support it.”

Councillor John Harding agreed but added: “As long as the design is right.”

Councillor Lawrence Fisher, who represents Brampton on the county council, pointed out that Brampton & Beyond runs the town’s community centre, also on the Irthing Centre site, and money generated form rent could be spent on improvements there.

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