Fears care home development would harm Surrey village labelled 'absolute tosh' by county councillor

Objections to a new care home in a Surrey village have been described as "absolute tosh" as county councillors overruled planning officers.

The green light has been given to a new Lingfield care home despite Tandridge District Council (TDC) officer objections at a planning meeting on May 29.

Criticism of the affordable extra care facility, on East Grinstead Road in the village, was based on the opinion that the three-storey building would “markedly change the character” of the surroundings and be too “imposing” on the street scene.

READ MORE: The food bank highlighting a 'heartbreaking' need in Surrey

READ MORE: Pub landlord in village with 'do not drink' notice says business is suffering

Objecting to the application on April 30, TDC officers found the density would detract from the area’s character. Despite an “acknowledged need” for affordable care housing, TDC officers judged “the harm” of the three-storey proposed development “clearly and demonstrably outweighs the benefits”.

“Absolute tosh” was the response from Councillor Ernest Mallett MBE (Residents' Association and Independent/ West Molesey) who said he was “staggered by the comments”. He added: “I'm surprised that any planning officer would put its name to that.”

Council documents show a need for 50 extra care units every year from 2016; only 16 units were provided from 2016 - March 2022 rather than the required 312. Reports state this indicates a “significant unmet need” and should support a grant of planning permission.

Proposed on the former Orchard Court Care Home site, the care facility will be three-storeys (with a basement) and will comprise 54 apartment units, staff and communal facilities and associated parking. It is designed for elderly residents wishing to move to smaller homes, in the hope of freeing up local housing.

But neighbours and locals objecting to the proposal said the three-storey building was out of keeping with the nature and heritage of the area. Overlooking balconies and anxieties about privacy were some of the issues raised in the 10 letters against the application.

Concerns raised by planning officers included the ability of local health care services to cope with the development. Around 104 people could reside in the new care home, with each apartment as one bedroom two person units, which could cause strain on existing health services.

Speaking on behalf of the applicant, Carol Bell said the proposals “offer individuals a home of their own, with their own front door, where individual needs can be met”. She added that the benefits of the site include a higher level of care and independence than traditional, sheltered housing with personal care, meals as well as a range of social and leisure activities.

SCC overruled TDC officer’s objection to the application as the council did not agree the risks of damaging the character of the area outweighed the benefits of affordable care provision. Issues of the care homes’ appearance and landscape environment are to come back to the committee at a later date.

Get more news from SurreyLive straight to your inbox for free here.