Battle over retirement homes plan 

SOUTH Gloucestershire Council is set to fight an appeal by a developer that wants to build 42 retirement flats on the site of the former Staple Hill Infant School.

Churchill Retirement Living submitted plans for four-storey apartment buildings with one- and two-bedroom flats, communal facilities and car parking on the corner site in Page Road last September.

The application was validated in October, giving the council a three-month window to decide whether to approve or reject it.

The time limit ran out in January and the Voice reported in April that the developer had appealed to the Planning Inspectorate over the council’s failure to determine the plan in time, which means the final decision on whether to build the flats now rests with a government inspector.

Churchill Retirement Living has also submitted a revised plan, with some amendments to its original scheme.

However the council has issued a statement of its own case, saying that, had Churchill not made the appeal, it would have refused the application on six grounds: massing and density that did not “respect the character” of the surroundings; inadequate private or useable communal amenity space; insufficient parking, with no disabled parking; no safe non-vehicle access route; no provision of public open space to mitigate its impact on the area; no appropriate provision for affordable housing.

The council said it “will show that the proposed development will result in adverse impacts which significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits”.

Churchill Retirement Living has now submitted a 42-page proof of evidence and a series of other documents ahead of an appeal, which is due to be heard over four days in August.

The company, which has already built New Pooles Lodge retirement development on nearby Staple Hill Road,says the site is a “highly sustainable location” and its plans “accord with national and local planning policy”.

There have been five objections to the plans, mainly focusing on parking, congestion, design and the size of the development, on the site of the old infant school building demolished in 2019.