A Florida-style retirement village for older people complete with homes, a surgery, bistro and open space with ponds has been given the go-ahead for Grimsargh.
A masterplan for the 4.77ha greenfield site at Preston Road on the western edge of Grimsargh presents a vision for older people to live with the buzz of community with easy access to health support.
The housing element includes proposals for residents aged over 55 years with a 60 bedroom care home, 60 apartments and 20 bungalows.
Planning documents on behalf of applicants Applethwaite and Your Housing Group state: “The proposal comprises an opportunity to develop an innovative approach to housing for older people in Preston – the development is unique in this respect.
“The social benefits of ‘planning’ for retirement in this way are substantial and will be borne out in the mental health and well-being of future residents with economic spin offs in the local area.”
Documents continue: “The proposal contains a communal bistro, lounge and extensive areas of open space and high quality landscaping – all of which come at a cost - albeit the payback for future residents in the form of their mental health and well-being is intangible.
“The development of an older person’s village must be sufficiently attractive to encourage those who are downsizing to leave their long term family homes.”
The social aspect of the vision behind the plans is to provide “sustainable” accommodation for older people nearing retirement in order to prevent loneliness at a time when some may be facing problems with their health.
The doctor’s surgery, for example, could be welcomed as the wider North West area of Preston is inundated with housing schemes leaving other nearby surgeries struggling to cope with ever increasing patient numbers.
Proposals regarding the clinic say: “It is anticipated that the proposed doctor’s surgery will be able to offer existing and future residents two consulting rooms and one treatment room.
“The surgery would be open between the hours of 8am and 6.30pm with possible late opening and weekend cover subject to demand.
“It is likely one to two GPs will operate from the premises supported by health care assistants, practice nurses and associated staff.
“Centres such as this often provide a base for other related health care professionals such as physiotherapists and podiatrists.
“The surgery will be made available for existing residents in Grimsargh as well as future residents of the development.”
But while plans could give the impression of an oasis for those wanting to embrace retirement life, the reaction to the scheme from the local parish council is luke warm.
Chairman of Grimsargh Parish Council coun Lindsay Philipson said: “There are mixed feelings. Certainly within the village there were people who are in favour of it and there were people who not in favour of it.
“It is a difficult issue when planning comes to take out another green space.
“I’m not entirely sure that what’s being proposed is something that people want to see. People in general would prefer there not to be another further large development with the traffic problem being the top of the list.
“We’d prefer to see affordable houses for people with a local connection and bungalows prove quite popular.
“We have heard that bungalows in this application might have three rooms. People in their mid 70s and 80s are not going to be able to afford that.
“They are likely to be too big and expensive.
“A car home in the village has been closed for two years so a care home could be an asset but whether a huge three storey care home is an asset is another matter.
”Once the reserved matters application comes up there will be a bigger decision about it.”
At this point an application in “outline” has been accepted by planners at Preston City Council with a “reserved matters application”, which will flesh out the detail of point such as how many bedrooms bungalows will have, will become apparent. The second application is due to be sent to planners in Spring this year.
A spokesman from Eric Wright Group of Companies, at which Applethwaite is a residential development company, said: “We are currently working up a scheme that respects the local site constraints to deliver the development.”
Lindsay was also sceptical about plans to bring a surgery to the area through the scheme.
There is no doctor’s surgery in Grimsargh but there are two in Longridge.
According to Lindsay however, “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get appointments quickly”.
But referring back to the plans for the village surgery she added: “You can’t just set up a GP surgery and expect the NHS to fund it.
“That’s down to the regional health authority.”
For a new GP surgery to be brought to an area numerous bodies are involved. Firstly the local Clinical Commissioning Group would need to look into the need, examining multiple factors such as the number of homes, the deprivation of the area, numbers of children or elderly people and various other cultural factors.
Other authorities including NHS England, Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council and GPs, as independent contractors, would also have a say.