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Higher Drive owner launches attack on opponents

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A CARE home owner claims his controversial expansion plans are "essential" and has hit out at those opposing the proposal.

The hearing into the application by owners of the high-dependency Highfield House, in Higher Drive, Kenley – who want to expand it 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 the 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 inspector 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 many broken promises from the care home owners.

He said: "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."

Higher Drive owner launches attack on opponents


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