The Northern Planning Committee have approved an application from the Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS to demolish the existing 12 buildings at the Mary Dendy Unit on Chelford Road, Nether Alderley.
These units will be replaced with three single storey mental health units each housing 15 low security patients, a two storey administration building and secure outdoor space, all of which will be served by new infrastructure and provide parking and bike stands for 50 staff, as existing.
The application, number 09/3056M, initially went before the planning committee on November 25th 2009 when it was deferred in order for a site visit to take place but when the committee reconvened on December 16th they decided to recommend the application for approval.
The new unit will accommodate 45 patients, which is an increase from the existing 15 and the development is to be in 4 phases. The first phase, intended to commence in 2010, will consist of a second 15 bed unit to increase the number of patients to 30, with refurbishment of the existing operational unit. The two further units will only be built as and when required.
Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS stated that the development would help to enhance the security of the site. The same level of care would be provided to an increased number of patients in modern, purpose built units, which would include up to date security features. This would include an anti climb fence, lair locked doors and CCTV.
Nether Alderley Parish Council, Great Warford Parish Council and Nether Alderley Rural Protection Association all objected to the proposal for various reasons. These included: a lack of public consultation, the application being within the Green Belt and the proposal including a change from non-secure accommodation to secure units housing offenders who had committed very serious crimes and classified as likely to commit a further offence. They also voiced concerns over pedestrian and public transport access to the site.
In addition, approximately 16 objection letters were received from local residents on the grounds of: lack of consultation, the change from a non secure to secure unit, poor public transport access, over concentration of care facilities in the area, an increase in traffic, and a design which is out of keeping with the environment.
The planning committee were advised that the determining issues were whether the replacement buildings would have an adverse impact on the character and appearance of the Green belt, reduce the openness of the Green Belt and whether they would be materially larger than the current buildings on the site; the potential impact on local residents; the impact on trees; and the impact on parking and highway safety.
The Committee decided to pass the planning application on the grounds that:
- There is an existing institutional function and operation on the site but the existing accommodation is unsuitable for the NHS needs and does not comply with the National minimum standards and guidance for such accommodation.
- The low secure units would provide support accommodation which would consist of leisure rooms, patient examination rooms – all of which would be low security.
- The outdoor space would be sufficient to prevent interaction and prevent escape to the outside. This will be provided through planting, wire fencing, foliage and the form of the building.
- Overall, the scale of development would be no greater that the existing buildings and as a result it is not considered that there would be a significant impact on the Green Belt.
- The benefits of the proposed development are considered to outweigh any negative aspects and a recommendation of approval is offered.
The full planning application which can be viewed online (using planning reference 09/3056M) will be subject to the The Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS producing and operating a travel plan for the development, a landscaping scheme and providing protection for both trees and breeding birds.