Care village proposed for Basildon green belt

A “nature-led” care village that would offer three different levels of care to more than a hundred older people could be built on green belt land near Basildon.

Proposed for land in Bowers Gifford, the development would consist of a 70-bed care home, 42 assisted living units and 13 retirement bungalows, as well as gardens and community spaces such as a cinema room.

The developer, listed as Metro Property Investments, also hopes to build a car park for nearby St. Margaret’s C of E Primary School, encouraging visits from children and aiming to combat a congestion problem in the area.

But according to a design and access statement by DAP Architecture, public response was mixed, with the plans receiving 12 written representations opposing the proposals and 12 in support.

The main reasons for opposition were impact on the green belt, landscape and neighbouring properties, and loss of views.

The developer says it has improved the design by moving and reducing the buildings and lowering the overall scheme by 1.2m.

A section of the statement read: “The proposal seeks to be a nature led scheme that makes efficient use of the site, while minimising the impact on the Green Belt and the neighbouring dwellings along Ilfracombe Avenue, by establishing clear, legible, permeable and landscape lead layout.

“The site will offer a high-quality Care Village for people over the age of 55, providing varying levels of care for residents and the wider community. The Care Village will host a range of retirement tenure, providing varied levels of care, as required.”

A planning application was received by Basildon Council on September 28, and will be validated on October 28, according to the council’s planning website.

The application seeks outline permission for a new 70 bed care home, 42 assisted living units and 13 retirement bungalows, together with vehicle access onto Ilfracombe Avenue, a new school parking area for parents and pupils of St. Margaret’s C of E Primary School, new nature area, landscaping and communal facilities including a day care centre and cinema room.

According to the design and access statement, the current site is an open field which neighbours Jackamans Farm and the Bowers Park Cottages.

The statement continues to reveal that in addition to gardens and nature areas for residents, discussions have taken place with Bowers Gifford Parish Council over the intention to create a “green ring” in the village, which would encourage the public to explore the area.

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly increased older peoples’ need for care, according to a statement by Age UK earlier this year.

For example, 1.45 million people in the UK aged over 60 now have difficulty walking short distances outside when previously this was not a problem for them.

The House of Commons voted to increase national insurance by 1.25 per cent in September, breaking a Conservative manifesto pledge, to help fund adult social care.

The application has a determination deadline of January 27, 2022.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter