Developer's appeal dismissed
A developer has lost a planning appeal over a scheme to build a retirement village at a beauty spot on the Devon coast.
English Care Villages Ltd challenged a decision by Torbay Council that the company had run out of time to start work at Sladnor Park, a former holiday park at Maidencombe near Torquay.
Planning permission for a 188-unit retirement village had been granted in 2006, then updated in 2008.
The approved scheme included healthcare, leisure and restaurant facilities on the country estate above the village, which later became a holiday park with chalets and lodges.
But the council decided in June 2020 that work had not started within three years of the original decision and permission had expired.
The developer appealed against the decision, but a Government-appointed planning inspector has found in favour of the council.
The inspector’s decision notice says work to create part of an access driveway into the site was carried out in 2011.
But it says that work was authorised in 2006 and had taken place after the end of the three-year permission period.
That meant it did not count as starting work on the scheme in time, and the council’s refusal to grant a certificate of lawful use to the developer was upheld.
Planning permission is usually granted with a condition that work has to start within a limited three-year period.
The appeal decision follows the council’s refusal of a new planning application for a care village on the site in December 2020.
Councillors were told the scheme above the coastal village was for 159 self-contained units, for ‘close care’ and ‘assisted living’, including 11 apartment blocks, with health facilities.
The plans showed a 10-storey block forming the village core with a reception area, staff office and accommodation, nursing stations, restaurant and bar, cafe, shop, gym, hair salon, consulting and treatment rooms, laundry, swimming pool and sauna.
The council’s planning committee voted for refusal after hearing it conflicted with planning policies for the area and would harm the landscape, had poor access and transport links, and would risk flooding and drainage problems.
Backers of the scheme said it would provide much-needed housing for the elderly and support the equivalent of 75 full-time jobs.
Objectors said the plans were in the wrong place and the development would add too much pressure to local health services.
They argued the price of the homes would be too high for local people, and would result in wealthy older people coming to Torbay from elsewhere.
Councillors were told people would have to rely on private cars to reach the site off Teignmouth Road, a narrow winding route with an hourly bus service, which went against sustainable transport policies.