Retirement housing scheme backed by planning inspector

The Government Planning Inspectorate has given its clear backing for a retirement housing scheme for the redevelopment the Hotel Blue Conifer in St Marychurch, Torquay, in an appeal decision released yesterday.

Renaissance Retirement's bid to redevelop the Higher Downs Road site with nine new retirement homes was initially rejected by the Council's Development Management Committee last October against the advice of Planning Officers. Following the Council's refusal of the proposals on primarily design issues, the retirement housing specialist lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate.

In the decision published, the Planning Inspector gave the go-ahead to the proposals disagreeing with the stance previously taken by the Council in refusing the application. Aside from recognising the "significant social and economic benefits" of the proposals, the Inspector concluded in his assessment of the scheme that the "proposal would not result in material harm to the character of appearance of the surrounding area."

Simon McFarlane, Renaissance Retirement's associate planning director commented:

"We welcome the Inspector's decision, which supports the approach we took to the scheme's design and which confirms that Council Officers had assessed the impacts of the proposals correctly in their earlier recommendation for approval. We're also particularly pleased to see the comments that were made by the Inspector over the critical need for and the important benefits of retirement housing."

Simon added:

"During the time this application was with the Planning Inspectorate, we were able to secure permission locally through revised plans. Despite this appeal having been allowed, in the light of the concerns raised and the support given by Torbay councillors to our recently approved revised proposal for a scheme of more traditional design appearance we have decided to build out that scheme rather than that allowed on appeal."

In allowing this appeal Inspector JP Roberts Bsc (Hons), LLB(Hons), MRTPI, also had regard to the Government's Planning Practice Guidance that identifies the critical need to provide housing for older people given that the projected increase in the number of households aged 65 and over accounts for over half of new households.

The Inspector commented, "...In my view, the provision of sheltered accommodation brings with it significant social and economic benefits which do not appear to have been weighed in the balance by the Council."

Renaissance Retirement's revised plans for this site, which propose a more traditional design, were given by the green light by the Council at last month's Development Management Committee. Work on the construction of the development is planned to start in the coming months.


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Notes to Editors:
  • Renaissance Retirement's initial application was submitted in May 2016 and sought permission for a scheme of 10 retirement apartments, which was later revised during the course of the application process to include 9 units This proposal was subsequently refused by Torbay Council's Development Management Committee at its meeting on 10 October 2016 following an Officer's recommendation for approval

  • This initial planning application was refused on the following grounds:

  • Scale, bulk and design of building
  • The proposed development would constitute overdevelopment of the site and would result in a form of development that would be out of keeping with the established character of the area

  • Renaissance Retirement prepared a revised application (9 retirement apartments) in direct response to the committee's earlier comments over design. This second application, which was submitted in December 2016, proposed a more traditional design approach

  • The revised application was unanimously approved by Torbay Council's Development Management Committee at its meeting on 13 February 2017