Planning chiefs have rejected proposals to extend a Bath care home, after their last decision to approve it was overruled by a High Court judge.
A resident launched a judicial review after Bath and North East Somerset Council members defied officer advice last year and granted planning permission for the 52-bed Cedar Park to ensure its viability.
But Judge Cotter QC quashed the decision, branding it “irrational” when it came before the High Court in July 2018.
The application came back before the authority last week, with councillors this time following officer recommendations and refusing planning permission.
Planning associate at Thrings solicitors, Ros Trotman, took the challenge to the High Court along with No5 Chambers and represented objectors last week.
She said: “The decision of the planning committee to refuse to grant consent is great news for local residents.
“They recognise that care homes are vitally important, in the right place and at an appropriate scale.
“However, these particular applications went far beyond what was needed and would have had a significant and lasting negative impact on heritage assets and local people.
“We all want to retain Bath’s heritage assets whilst also providing quality care home provision, but in this case, the scale, design, materials and loss of open space and trees would have had a detrimental impact and would not provide the quality of future care home expected by local policy.”
When the application first came before B&NES Council’s planning committee, members said care homes need to expand to remain viable, and so the extension was necessary to ensure this viability and to safeguard jobs.
But Judge Cotter QC found there was no evidence to support these arguments, instead concluding that seeking “greater profit does not mean that an existing enterprise is not and will not remain profitable”, particularly when the care home has been successfully operating for 15 years.
Recommending refusal, officers said the extension would be “unsympathetic and disrespectful” to the listed building and the proposals would overdevelop the site.
Committee chairman Matthew McCabe said: “Committee members followed officers’ recommendations in refusing both the planning and listed building applications to alter and extend the former Cedar Park Care Centre.
“The planning application was refused nine votes in favour with one abstention and the listed buildings application was unanimously refused.”
Cedar Care Homes managing director, Ash Desai said: “Having received committee support previously and with need and viability agreed we are naturally very disappointed that our application was refused.
“While we acknowledge that the objections of our neighbours have outweighed our intention to create a comfortable environment for our residents in this case, we would like to continue to provide care and support for older people at Cedar Park.
“We will therefore explore other options to improve and maximise the beauty and functionality of the building whilst ensuring that it remains in harmony with its environment.
“However, if we cannot secure support from the council then we will seek to redevelop the site with an alternative use.”
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter