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Methodist Homes retirement scheme approved for Pickering
A RETIREMENT community and care scheme on the edge of Pickering has been given the go-ahead despite fierce opposition from residents and councillors.
Methodist Homes now has permission to build a 168 assisted living units - including 90 care apartments and 78 bungalows - on a four acre site on the Malton road south of Pickering town centre.
The scheme has caused strong feeling the town with some supporting the plans as meeting a desperate need for more care facilities for older people, and others arguing the 168 unit is too big for a town of 7000 people.
The plans were approved at a Ryedale District Council planning committee meeting on Wednesday, August 28. The same committee deferred their decision from a meeting in July to give them chance to visit the contentious site.
Pickering’s Mayor Coun Sue Cowan, district councillor Joy Andrews, and Mike Potter from Pickering Civic Society, all spoke against the scheme. They objected on the grounds that it would be too big, would destroy a valuable landscape asset by building on the green fields, would cause traffic chaos and put too heavy a strain on the GP surgery.
Coun Cowan said: “The addition of up to 200 patients with hugely disproportionate needs would be unsustainable. Please, I urge you to build something smaller in a better place in Pickering.”
They also said they were not convinced the development would attract local people, but would bring elderly people into Pickering from elsewhere, further fuelling the town’s aging population.
And Coun Tommy Woodward, who represents the Pickering East ward, raised concerns about the level of affordable housing in the scheme.
The 15 percent of the units planned as affordable homes is “paltry” provision, compared the council’s standard level of 35 percent for new residential developments, he said.
But Ryedale council’s own planning officials threw their weight behind the scheme, recommending the councillors vote for its approval.
Head of Planning and Housing Gary Housden told the meeting: “I am not saying this scheme will not have any impact. There will be some detriment to the landscape, but there is a bigger picture here.
"The natural population changes will mean there is an increasing need for bespoke accommidation for older people with a care need.
"This is providing something that will be of value in the future."
While the council’s own conservation officer said she had concerns about development at the site, English Heritage had been complimentary about the design, he added.
In a written statement, the conservation officer said: “I have concerns over the principle of developing this site due to the direct significant impact the development would have on the undeveloped and rural character of this landscape.”
The Methodist Homes’ agent Natasha Rowland told the meeting their model of care allows elderly people to live independent lives in their homes, and is particularly well suited to people with dementia.
She added: “This development will be seen as a modest expansion of the town.”
After more than an hour of debate the committee voted on the scheme, and approved it with only two votes against and one abstention.