New Garstang care home approved - but 'prison-like' appearance will have to change

Councillors have demanded that a planned new care home in Garstang be given a facelift before it gets off the drawing board.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 7:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 7:44 pm

Members of Lancashire County Council’s development control committee dismissed the current design for the proposed facility on Garstang Road – with two of them likening it to a prison.

The new premises will replace the Bowgreave Rise residential home, which opened just over 50 years ago and specialises in dementia care.

The £5.5m scheme will see a replacement building constructed in the grounds of the existing property, allowing residents to move directly across to their new home once it is complete. There will be 45 places available in the new three-story block, an increase of around 50 percent on its current capacity

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The provisional look of Garstang's new care home did not impress county councillors (image: PRP via Lancashire County Council planning portal)

It is part of a wider development in which the original home will then be demolished to make way for a separate “extra care” scheme, providing self-contained supported accommodation.

Committee members approved the overall project, but outlined their expectation for natural stone or stone-cladding to be incorporated into the frontage, which currently comprises a buff-coloured brickwork and contrasting grey masonry. An existing condition requiring the submission of design details has been amended to reflect their wishes.

During the discussion of the application – made by the county itself, which operates Bowgreave Rise and will run the planned new home – the appearance of the facility was described, variously, as “appalling”, “ugly” and “out of character” with the surrounding area.

Cllr Andrea Kay said she was concerned about the potential impact on those making the move to the new home.

Bowgreave Rise has been providing care in Wyre since 1970 (image: Google

“We do not want people to think that they are going into a prison block – we want [residents] to feel at home in the area that they’re used to. They shouldn’t have to suffer by going into an apartment block like that that’s not very appeasable to the eye,” Cllr Kay said.

Cllr Jimmy Eaton also alluded to the penal-like look of the grey sections of the frontage.

Wyre Council, in whose patch the development sits, raised concerns that the “monolithic and blocky appearance” of the building would make it look like a “commercial or institutional” development.

However, County Hall’s principal planning officer Jonathan Haine said he believed that the proposed design – which includes a ‘green wall’ on one of its side elevations – was “reasonably successful” in providing a “sensitive frontrange” to the site.

The design of the Garstang Road facility makes it difficult to meet modern standards for its residents, some of whom have dementia (image: Lancashire County Council)

Committee member Cllr Cosima Towneley added that there was need to be realistic about the “utilitarian use” of the buildings – but urged further discussion about the appearance of the extra care facility, which was submitted only for outline approval, meaning there is so far little little detail about its design.

Lancashire County Council aims to create at least one extra care unit in each of its 12 districts by 2025. Five such sites are currently open, including in Preston and Chorley.

The Garstang facility will be operated by a registered provider and will offer 65 one and two-bedroomed apartments, with the security of 24-hour on-site support and access to pre-planned care packages.

Ian Crabtree, Lancashire County Council’s director of adult disability and care services, said he was pleased that the plans had been approved.

“The new care home will be a modern replacement for the existing Bowgreave Rise Home, which was built in 1970 and has an old fashioned layout which makes it difficult to meet modern quality standards. Each resident will have their own en-suite bedroom and there will be communal facilities. Current staff will move to the new home to ensure a continuity of care.

“The new care home will be built next to the existing one and will be fully operational before the existing service is closed.

“The extra care facility will provide more complex support to meet people’s needs as they change over time. Each flat will have its own bathroom, kitchen/lounge and bedroom or bedrooms, and there will also be communal facilities including a restaurant and lounge for residents,” Mr. Crabtree explained.

Wyre has the highest number of over-65’s in the county – more than 31,000 – and the highest prevalence of dementia at 2.59 percent.

The committee approved the development by a majority of nine votes to two.