Planners back scheme for older people's housing near Chester-le-Street town centre

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PLANS for a major housing complex near the centre of Chester-le-Street is being recommended for approval.

Durham County Council planning officials are recommending councilors grant permission for local social landlord Cestria Community Housing to build on the Garden Farm Estate.

It plans to build 57 homes for the over-55s at the redundant 1970s-built Lawson Court and Riddell Court sheltered housing sites. The existing buildings would be demolished with a development, to be called The Elms, replacing them.

The scheme would include six, two-bedroomed self-contained bungalows and 51 apartments for rent and sale. The majority would be affordable homes.

The complex will have facilities including a beauty treatment room, technology suite, cafe, laundry, community allotment and office and community exhibition space.

Cestria says in a statement to councilors: “This is a hugely innovative development that will help to change perceptions of older people’s housing, by embracing lifetime community design principles.

“We recognise that locally there is a severe shortage of high quality housing for the over 55’s, and the development will go some way to meeting the strategic housing need.”

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has given £1.76m to the scheme from its Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund.

Cestria says each home will be dementia friendly' and will encourage a healthy and active lifestyle.

The north area planning committee will be told next Thursday (December 19) that the Coal Authority objects to the scheme, saying that there should be a report saying how old mineworkings could impact on the development.

A neighbor has also objected, saying that their views od Lumley Castle and Penshaw Monument will be lost if the development goes ahead.

Planning officers say in their report that the development would bring quality, energy-efficient homes to the area.

They say views of Lumley Castle would be affected by the development but“on balance it is considered that the design, scale and massing is acceptable in its context.”

The report adds:“Careful and thorough consideration has been given to the objection from the local resident, and concerns raised throughout the consideration process, and these have been taken into account and addressed in detail within the body of the report.

“However, on balance these issues were not felt to be of sufficient weight to justify refusal of this application.”

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