Waltham Abbey care home to become flats after three year delay

A former care home for adults with learning disabilities will be turned into flats after a three year delay.

Epping Forest District Council approved the plans for Shernbroke Hostel in Waltham Abbey last night (March 16), which will turn the site into 26 flats including 10 specialist homes to provide social care for vulnerable adults.

The planning application by Essex Housing was submitted in 2019, but was delayed due to potential impact of air pollution from the development on the Special Area of Conservation, protected land around Epping Forest.

The facility has already been demolished by Essex Housing to prepare the site for redevelopment, according to planning agent Michael Ward, from Strutt & Parker.

He said: “I do believe that the proposals now before you represent a good quality development that will not only provide new market housing for the district but also new accommodation for people with learning disabilities.”

Essex housing is aiming to tackle housing shortage by redeveloping vacant county council owned properties and brownfield sites.

However, Waltham Abbey Town Council objected to the plans over the character of the blocks of flats.

A section of the town council’s objection read: “Whilst the committee is not objecting to the principle of the development, the committee feels that the design is not sympathetic to the surrounding area, and is therefore out of keeping.

“A four-storey development is too high in that location and so would be over dominant, and concerns were raised concerning the designing out crime report from the police, expressing their concern regarding the design.”

Use of the 25-capacity facility declined over time and by the end it only had seven permanent residents in 2018 when it closed. It also needed maintenance and structural improvements.

The county council now prefers to move people with learning disabilities to supported living, rather than to residential care homes such Shernbroke Hostel.

The application was held in abeyance due to its potential impact on the Special Area of Conservation.

However, following the adoption of the district council’s air pollution mitigation strategy, the application was allowed to be brought forward to the planning committee.

Of the 26 new homes, nine will be specialist flats for adults with learning disabilities, and one will be carer accommodation and an office.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter