Controversial plans to redevelop a Lancaster pub as retirement flats have been given the green light after a planning appeal.
Despite strong local opposition, developers McCarthy & Stone won their appeal against Lancaster City Council’s refusal of planning permission for a five-storey block of 54 extra care apartments for the over 70s on the site of the Greaves Hotel and adjacent car park.
The development was turned down by the city council in January on the grounds of its poor design, overbearing scale and inadequate parking.
But the Planning Inspectorate has overruled local feeling and given the go-ahead following an appeal hearing led by Anthony Lyman, a planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State, at Morecambe Town Hall.
Several local councillors – Andrew Kay, Paul Woodruff, Sheila Denwood, Roger Dennison and Tony Johnson – spoke up in support of local residents. Coun Josh Bancroft also lent his support to the residents’ campaign.
“What point is there in objecting if we are ignored?” said Gillian Whitworth, who lives in Belle Vue Terrace.
“Communities Secretary Eric Pickles’ Localism Bill is designed to give more power to residents over planning but there is little evidence of this.
“Instead, the Planning Inspectorate is prioritising “sustainable development” over the views of local people.”
Fellow Belle Vue Terrace resident Gary Rycroft said: “Unprecedented numbers had written to the council about the plans and it just seems a shame that the views of local people have been overlooked.”
Karen Mills, who lives directly behind the proposed development in Ash Grove, said: “Local people don’t want this but it is still going ahead.
“It’s too big and it’s too close and we think it will affect parking, daylight and privacy.”
Ward councillor Sheila Denwood added: “Obviously the residents are disappointed. We did our best to defend what they wanted because we could see their point of view.”
Steve Secker, regional managing director for McCarthy & Stone, said: “We’re very happy with the decision that has been made and look forward to bringing one of our specialist schemes to Lancaster.
“This development will bring great benefits to the area, including the regeneration of a vacant brownfield site and will provide much needed accommodation for older people in and around the area, filling a gap in the provision of housing in Lancaster.”
Subject to planning conditions, construction of the development is likely to begin next summer, with first occupations in late 2015.