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Former Thames Hospice site development dismissed on appeal

An appeal from developers hoping to turn the old Thames Hospice building in Windsor into retirement homes has been dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate.

Beechcroft Developments Ltd submitted an application to the Royal Borough in November 2019 to turn the Hatch Lane site into a retirement housing development, comprising of 45 homes with car parking.

The hospice vacated the site when it moved to its new home at Bray Lake, which opened in October.

The plans were refused by the council’s planning committee in September, prompting the developer to appeal.

But in a decision published at the end of last month, planning inspector John Longmuir dismissed the appeal, citing that the effect of the proposal on the character of the area and neighbouring trees would be too great.

In his report, Mr Longmuir added: “From Hatch Lane there is a footpath which follows along the northern edge of the site, which is wide, tarmacked and lit. It appeared to be well used as I noticed during my site visit.

“The site is currently very unimposing on the footpath which allows for a sense of openness and appreciation of the adjacent trees.

“This character would be changed to one which would be enclosed and dominated by buildings.”

The inspector added that the proposal would ‘harm’ trees located near the site, which would force the rooms to become ‘enclosed’ and suffer from ‘impaired daylighting’.

Mr Longmuir did acknowledge, however, that the site would have had ‘adequate’ amenity spaces for intended residents, ‘well related and accessible’ to the various blocks of flats proposed.

But in conclusion, the planning inspector summed up why he had to dismiss the appeal.

“In overall balance, the adverse impacts of the proposal would significantly outweigh the benefits,” he said.

Debbie Raven, chief executive at Thames Hospice said: “We are obviously disappointed with the appeal decision.

"The inspector recommends some relatively minor design changes, most of which have already been incorporated into the second planning application for four less apartments that has yet to be determined, but that we hope will be referred to the planning panel meeting in March.

“The funds raised from the sale of Pine Lodge are critical in ensuring that we are able to pay off the remaining amounts required for our new hospice at Bray and continue to deliver our much needed services to the community.

"Any delay has a major impact on our financial situation. This is especially pertinent at this time when our services are busier than ever before supporting people with urgent palliative and end of life care needs, and some also with coronavirus, and our income taking a hit because our shops are closed and fundraising events cancelled.”

Beechcroft Developments Ltd has not yet responded to a request for comment. 

To view the appeal decision in full, click here.

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