Villagers pile on pressure to run old care home

The former Moor Plat Care Home in Caton
The former Moor Plat Care Home in Caton

COUNTY chiefs are being urged to rethink the proposed sale of a former care home site in Caton by residents who want to turn it into a community hub.

More than 500 people have signed a petition urging Lancashire County Council, the owner of Moor Platt, to shelve plans to sell the building.

They have called for the house and its grounds to be used for community facilities such as allotments, a village green, and an outdoor activity area for youngsters, possibly alongside start-up business units and affordable homes.

Other suggestions have included fitness equipment, outdoor table tennis, sustainable energy measures and mega-speed broadband provided by the Broadband 4 Rural North project.

Plans for 36 extra care retirement homes following the closure of the residential home in September 2003 have never materialised and that permission, secured in 2006, has since expired.

But the county council this week revealed it has accepted an offer from a new potential developer.

Martyn Ellis, the county’s principal estates surveyor, said the prospective buyer had indicated that the building would be turned back into a care facility.

“As the site has been unused and subject to vandalism for some time, the proposed sale and redevelopment promises to be a positive outcome for local residents,” he said.

But locals behind the petition fear that even if a care facility is developed at the property, the site’s large grounds could be used for market housing.

They had hoped that the site could be leased to a local community group, which would seek grant funding and possibly a partnership with a housing association to help make its vision a reality.

Parish councillor Chris Kynch, one of the residents spearheading the community campaign, is calling on the council to pause for thought and seriously consider its idea before proceeding with the sale.

She said: “The package suggested by people in the community meets long-standing village needs – local groups and partners are ready to shape provision and prospects for grant funding look attractive.

“Lancashire County Council should save money, too, as increased well being, through better health, social activities of young and old and more local families.” She also urged the provision of a village green in any development.

Before becoming a residential home in 1955, the historic 19th Century country house was a home to the wealthy Jowett family and featured a luxury cellar cinema, glopanels in the bathroom, a yacht shaped mirror, cherubic chandelier, and its own entrance onto Caton station.