Care home plans for the 'Rolls Royce' of facilities in Flitwick get the green light

The plans for the Bedfordshire site have been approved at the council’s Development Management Committee

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 12:14 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 10:25 am

Work could start on the 'Rolls Royce' of care home facilities in Flitwick this autumn, if preparations can be finished on other aspects of the site in time.

The project is part of Central Bedfordshire Council's (CBC) programme to deliver improved specialist accommodation for older people and is expected to take two years to complete.

It will provide a residential care home with 72 ensuite rooms and a private garden, and an eight-bedroom short breaks premises, according to the local authority.

"This includes a range of shared facilities co-located with the care home for adults with learning and/or physical disabilities," CBC said.

"There's also an independent living scheme consisting of 88 one-bed and two-bedroom self-contained apartments for the over 55s.

"The scheme will have private recreational space, with shared community facilities, as well as a lounge and roof gardens for residents.

"A café, hair salon, function rooms and dedicated area for use by health professionals will be provided."

Steppingley Road main entrance (Pic: Concertus Design & Property Consultants)
Steppingley Road main entrance (Pic: Concertus Design & Property Consultants)

Planning officer Stuart Kemp described it as hybrid plans on the former Flitwick Leisure Centre site in Steppingley Road.

Part of the project is in outline and the remainder at the full application stage, he told the council's development control committee on Wednesday, May 5.

The care home will serve as a replacement for Ferndale Residential Home in Easton Road, which was approved for closure by the council's executive in December 2019.

That process could take around three years to complete, it was explained at that time.

"The extra care housing has a link through to the town's new leisure centre, and consists of 55 one-bed and 33 two bedroom apartments," explained CBC.

"It has access to care 24/7, communal informal meeting spaces, a secure outdoor space and private lounge.

"There are 106 parking spaces, with some extra for visitors, while the apartments will all be affordable housing, half for social rent and half for shared ownership.

"They will be designed for accessibility and to be easily adaptable to changing needs.

"Detailed proposals for bungalows and apartments for those wanting something smaller and more manageable on part of the site is expected at a later date," added the council.

There were four objections and four comments made, said a report to the committee.

Opponents referred to it as "overdevelopment of the site", calling it "an outdated model" and "likely to dominate nearby housing".

They remarked that "older residents would prefer support in their own homes".

But one comment asked for "more of this type of accommodation" and another suggested it was "good to see PV solar panels on the roof".

Independent Flitwick councillor Gareth Mackey said: "It will be an excellent development for the town and certainly as a replacement for Ferndale.

"It's almost the Rolls Royce of delivery, so I commend the council on this."

Conservative Flitwick councillor Charles Gomm described it as "a positive benefit to the town and surrounding areas", saying he had concerns over parking provision.

Stressing the need to prevent parking problems on Steppingley Road, he said it "serves a number of traffic generators, such as the Rufus Centre, the leisure centre, the railway station and Tesco supermarket".

CBC's head of service MANOP (meeting the accommodation needs of older people) Tobin Stephenson referred to a "substantial" gap in provision of care home places locally, and in independent living and downsizer housing.

Councillors approved the proposals with nine votes in favour, none against and one abstention.