Villagers object to care home extension

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THERE was standing room only at a meeting where scores of villagers objected to a proposed 84-bed extension at a care home in the countryside.

The planning meeting at Spratton Village Hall last night was held to discuss St Matthews Healthcare’s plan to expand the site at Broomhill, in Holdenby Road, Spratton, from 15 beds to 99.

Spratton Parish Council unanimously voted to object to the plans at the meeting, which ran to more than two-and-a-half hours.

Among the residents objecting were former Northamptonshire and England cricketer Devon Malcolm, and Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder.

Objections from the public included the size of the building, its sustainability, its impact on the landscape, whether the plan offers any local benefit and the amount of traffic which would access it.

But Sean Sidhu-Brar, director of Kingsley-based St Matthews Healthcare, told the meeting he facility would not be a secure mental institution, and would primarily cater for elderly people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

He said he wanted to be a part of the village for many years to come.

Resident Paul Honeywell, aged 58, of Spratton Lodge, lives next door to Broomhill, and gave a presentation to the meeting.

He said: “Out of 166 letters which have gone in to Daventry District Council, two per cent are mildly in favour and 98 per cent are against.

“This dwarfs a historic building and will be permanent, not only for us but for our children.

“For a local population of 2,000, which is twice the size of the village, a maximum of 20 beds would be needed. A development of that size - I would welcome it.”

Speaking on a video which was played at the meeting, Mr Malcolm said: “I am fully up to speed with the application and totally object to it. This project is massively out of proportion to the village.”

Mr Mallinder was one of several residents who asked to speak but was unable to due to time constraints.

Other residents gave presentations to the meeting.

Lucille Knapp said: “It is six times the original size. It will not enhance it, but will be intrusive into the beautiful countryside.”

Peter Hunt said: “I have lived in Spratton for most of my life and I was born less than half a mile from Broomhill. This development will change the village that we love.

“I am trying to unravel how a local authority would allow such a monstrosity on our beautiful landscape.”

But the one person who spoke in favour of the plans was repeatedly interrupted and heckled, and the hecklers were told they would have to leave if they continued.

Former builder Terry Broughton said it was up to the private sector to provide these facilities as the Government cannot cope with the demand.

Talking about the people speaking against the plans, he said: “Those involved are void of any compassion and I would urge them to reconsider their position. “

Parish council chairman Barry Frenchman said: “I have spent a lot of time going through the planning documents for reasons to refuse this and I think I have found many.

“I have a list of things which I think we can invoke to raise our village’s objection to the application. I think the sheer scale of it, the design of it and the way it treats Broomhill as a historic building is to my mind very poor indeed.”

People can still make representations to Daventry District Council on the plans. The deadline is Tuesday, September 11, and the plans can be seen on the council’s planning portal by searching for reference DA/2012/0514.