CHIPPING Norton residents and councillors say they feel their views don’t count, after plans to convert a former school into a care home and assisted living development were approved.
Despite calls to scale down new buildings proposed for the site of Penhurst School, in New Street, they were given provisional planning consent without any changes by West Oxfordshire District Coun-cil’s uplands planning sub-committee earlier this month.
The school for severely-disabled children, run by the charity Action for Children, closed last year.
Beechcroft Developments and Porthaven Care Home Group submitted plans for a 55-bed care home and 43 assisted living apartments.
The town’s mayor, Mike Tysoe, said: “We’re very disappointed that planners do not seem to take our comments into consideration.
“We make sensible comments, which are completely overruled.”
The Penhurst Liaison Group, set up by neighbours, complained that the scale of the development was excessive and overbearing for people in Diston’s Lane, and said people were concerned that the height of the main three-storey building would cause loss of privacy.
Chipping Norton district councillor Geoff Saul said: “Councillors were concerned that if they did not pass them, the developers would appeal and it was likely an appeal would be successful, resulting in substantial costs to the council.”
Town councillor Alec Corfield, who is also an architect and town planner, said: “The third storey in the main building seemed only destined to be used for staff changing rooms, which could go anywhere, but officers recommended approval of the plan in its present form.
"We only have the best interests of the people of the town at heart and we’re fed up with our comments being ignored time and time again.”
Giles Hughes, the district council’s head of planning, said: “The concerns of residents were considered and there was specific debate over the three-storey element.
“However, because the three-storey element is 50 metres away from neighbouring properties and is in the middle of the site, the committee considered that it would not have a detrimental impact.”