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Higher Drive care home owner says opponents lack compassion

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THE owner of a care home has said opponents to its plan to expand demonstrate the wider problem in society where people no longer wish to protect the vulnerable. The hearing into the application of the high-dependency Highfield House in Higher Drive in Kenley, which wants to expand from 27 to 49 bedrooms, was held at Fairfield Halls on Wednesday. The proposal was rejected by Croydon Council in December last year because of cumulative impact on the local area. An initial application in 2011 was also refused on appeal. As a result, the owner, John Whelan, appealed again and the plan was referred to the Bristol-based planning inspectorate for a final decision. As part of the process, the inspectorate called all interested parties together to hear all the evidence available. The meeting was attended by the care home's development agents, council officers, leaders of the nearby Foxley Residents' Association, local councillor Steve O'Connell and members of the public. Following the meeting, the inspectorate also visited the site to help inform his decision which will be returned in the next three to six weeks. Mr Whelan, who provides care for people with serious neurological problems, has said the opposition shows the lack of interest in the wider public to provide facilities for those who really need it. "The extension is essential," he said. "There are only 27 of these high-dependency beds in the old Croydon PCT area and they are full up with people on the waiting list. "No one in the area provides this kind of specialist care and we are in great need of the facilities. The opponents do not even factor this into their argument, they just don't want the building here full stop. "It's a feature of wider society that they do not want to look at these kinds of problems. If you have a terrible accident and need full-time care – who is going to look after you?" However, Simon Brew, the honorary secretary of the Foxley Residents Association, said the local residents had received so many broken promises from the care home about what they would and would not do in development, they just did not trust them anymore. "We oppose it for legal and emotional reasons. You cannot have a facility this size in a residential area, it goes against all planning laws. They claim there will only ever be a maximum of five cars parked on the road, but there are already more than that before the extension which will have twice the impact. "It's a totally inappropriate site for the development and we are very passionate about opposing it. Obviously the planning inspectorate's decision is the last and we were very happy with the process but if it is approved on this appeal, we will be pretty hacked off." A decision on the home will be returned in three to six weeks.

Higher Drive care home owner says opponents lack compassion


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