Proposals to extend a 52-bed Bath care home will come back before planning chiefs after their decision was overturned in the High Court.
A resident launched a judicial review after councillors defied officer advice and granted planning permission for Cedar Park in Oldfield Road.
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.
He quashed the “irrational” decision in July last year, so the application will come back before Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning committee on July 3.
A previous application for the Grade II-listed care home, which is rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission, was refused in July 2017. Subsequent plans were approved in September that year, despite officers saying it appeared that “no genuine attempt has been made to overcome the reasons for the earlier refusals”.
They are again recommending refusal.
In a report to next month’s meeting, B&NES Council planning officers said: “The building has suffered a number of poor quality additions and extensions through its use as a care home and this has compromised its architectural interest.
“Nevertheless, parts of the interior of the principle building are still intact and these make an important contribution to the overall character and significance of the building.
“The proposal is seeking planning permission for the demolition of the existing central link building and construction of a replacement two storey block, together with additional two storey extensions located to the south and east. The retained buildings are to be refurbished and augmented.”
The plans have been revised slightly since the approval was quashed. The number of bedrooms proposed has been cut from 68 to 66 and the landscaping has been revised.
The rooms will have en suite facilities for single occupants, which Cedar Care managing director Ash Desai said are in demand.
In a response to objectors, he said his firm has “the financial strength and track records to invest in accommodation fit for the future and this application is an example of our desire to support the authority in that way”.
But planning officers said the extension will be “unsympathetic and disrespectful” to the listed building and the proposals would overdevelop the site.
They added: “The works are considered to be beyond the minimum required to secure the long term use of the asset.
“The proposals will create a single, large visual element in the landscape and result in loss of trees and open space which would impact the character and appearance of the Conservation Area and the wider World Heritage Site.”
Cedar Care has submitted an independent viability review claiming that the development is necessary to ensure the ongoing viability of the home, and that it is necessary to ensure the demand for care home beds is met.
Council planning officers said these arguments were outweighed by the “seriously detrimental impact” on the listed building, the conservation area and the wider World Heritage Site.
B&NES Council’s planning committee will decide the fate of the application.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter