Developers try again with rejected Pembury care home
7th August 2019
DEVELOPERS of a new care home that was rejected by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council over fears to ancient woodland have submitted a new planning application.
Quantum Group last year applied to build a 76-bed care home along with 19 care houses in Owlsnest Wood, Pembury, across a five hectare site opposite Tunbridge Wells Hospital.
At the time, council planners rejected the application on the grounds it was an ‘inappropriate development within the Metropolitan Green Belt’.
Villagers concerned about the damage to Owlsnest Wood caused by the development had contested the planning application despite Quantum saying the care home would bring a number of benefits to the local community including 36 part time and 30 full time jobs.
They also estimated it would generate an estimated £400,000 in additional spending in the local economy per annum.
Planning officers rejected the applications, saying: “The harm to the landscape, and character of the area, by virtue of the scale of the development, amount, layout and site coverage, would not be outweighed by the identified benefits of the scheme.”
Now, more than twelve months on, the developers have submitted a revised planning application with a number of ‘significant changes’.
A spokesperson for the group, said: “We have reduced the original number of units, and are now only building a care home and not the extra care houses and there will be no development on any ancient woodland.”
The plans also include opening up the grounds for the public to enjoy a lake that up until now has been private.
Quantum says the lake will be a place for local people, schoolchildren and staff and visitors from Pembury hospital to relax and enjoy the natural wildlife in a tranquil woodland setting.
They also claim the scheme has the support of the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust as it sees the benefits of having a specialist dementia care home that will provide an allocation of 10 beds for NHS hospital patients for ‘step down’ care – to ease the burden of bed blocking.
A public consultation is now underway, where the residents of Pembury village will have a chance to ask questions and provide feedback on the planning application.
Resident Sue Nuttall, said: “We fought the original application and it was rejected. This is just a similar offering.”
Villagers are already campaigning against a planning application put forward by car dealership, Hendy.
The vehicle retailer wants to open a ‘motor village’ on the edge of Pembury and is currently consulting on the proposals.
The local Parish Council has vowed to block the application, citing traffic concerns.
The village has also been earmarked for around 300 houses in the council’s draft Local Plan.
“It is one thing after another,” said Mrs Nuttall. “We are becoming a suburb of Tunbridge Wells.”