Update: Today (Thursday 20th) Councillors decided to defer making a decision to enable planning officers to have further conversation with the developer and their agents about their concerns about the scheme as it currently stands – including issues to do with the size of the building, sustainability, light pollution, inadequate parking, and fire escapes (more details). The vote was 10 – 1.
This week Councillors will decide whether to grant planning permission to demolish Harecombe Manor in Crowborough and allow the construction of a new purpose built care home on the site.
Harecombe Manor Nursing Home on Southview Road closed in 2016.
Two previous applications, in 2017 and 2018, to redevelop the site opposite the hospital and construct “extra care” apartments were refused by the committee.
As is their right, the developer ICON Design and Build lodged an appeal for the first of these. The Planning Inspector dismissed their appeal because of the “unjustified loss” of Harecombe Manor coupled with the scale of the replacement building.
Officers are recommending Councillors on Planning Committee North approve this revised application.
There will be 84 bedrooms in the new nursing Home along with communal and staff areas.
When the planning committee considered the 2017 and 2018 applications, there was a debate about whether the scheme fell under planning use class C2 or a C3. With the current scheme there ought to be no debate on the matter, as the rooms only have private bathrooms and no cooking facilities are provided in the rooms.
The current application still includes demolition of the Harecombe Manor. However improved design and the reduced scale of the new building has persuaded officers the replacement scheme is worthy of support.
Wealden District Council’s Conservation & Design Officer has been involved in discussions since the appeal decision. As the committee report explains, in her view, the layout and age of the building is incompatible with modern requirements for care facilities. As a condition of granting planning, a “museum space” will be provided within the new building documenting the history of Harecombe Manor. Materials will be salvaged and any interesting decorative features, such as the three wise monkey carvings, will be reclaimed and reused.
Previously concerns were expressed about the flood risk and whether the public draining system could cope. The agreed solution is storm water from the roofs and driveway will be held in three storage tanks where it will only be discharged into the sewer in Pratts Folly Lane at a controlled rate.
Crowborough Town Council have objected. One of their states reasons is they argue the car parking is inadequate. A total of thirty car parking spaces are proposed for residents, visitors and staff. Thirty spaces is at the lower end of the acceptable range in the parking standards.
Harecombe Manor was constructed around 1903 as a country house for the banker John Kirkwood. It was used as an auxiliary hospital during the First World War, a children’s home and until it closed in 2016 a nursing home.
Planning Committee North will meet remotely at 10.30am on Thursday 20th August. The Agenda and Report (item 8) can be downloaded from Wealden District Council’s website: council.wealden.gov.uk.