TOWN councillors have welcomed proposals for a new care home in Newbury, despite concerns over the impact on traffic on the nearby road network.
Castleoak Care Developments has applied to construct a 64-bed care home on land between the David Lloyd leisure centre and Falkland Surgery, off Monks Lane.
Fears over the impact on traffic along the busy route, with two schools in the vicinity, were expressed at a recent meeting of Newbury Town Council planning and highways committee.
However, discussing the application during Monday’s meeting, councillors said the benefits of the proposed development outweighed the negatives.
Council leader Adrian Edwards (Con, Falkland) initially raised concerns over the additional traffic on Monks Lane, as well as a lack of parking for staff and visitors at the site.
“You’ve got doctors, nurses, provision merchants all coming to service that building – so my main concern is that there are insufficient car parking spaces,” he said.
“It would also have a significant effect on Monks Lane.
“It’s yet another access point on Monks Lane, which is a very fast and heavily-used road.”
The application states a total of 80 full- and part-time staff will be employed from the local area, however, a maximum of 25 staff members will be on site at any one time.
A total of 30 parking spaces will be provided.
In a transport statement, the applicant says staff shifts will be staggered to prevent a large number of car journeys at any one time.
According to the application, the development will result in 10 additional two-way vehicle journeys in the morning rush hour and nine in the evening rush hour.
The applicant concludes: “Such activity is immaterial and would not affect existing and permitted future traffic and safety conditions.”
As such, Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft), who is also executive member for highways and transport on West Berkshire Council, replied to Mr Edwards: “I think the applicant has gone to great effort to tackle the traffic issues.
“There’s a great need for care homes – they have analysed nine other sites and this was the best.”
Miles Evans (Con, Victoria) added: “It says there’s a concern over Monks Lane, which we have visited on numerous applications.
“It is a busy road, very busy during school periods, but I think by staggering the times that people are entering and exiting the site, it should reduce the impact.
He concluded: “I don’t have any problem with the application.
“As was said, there’s a great need for care homes.”
Dave Goff (Con, Clay Hill) offered support for the application, saying: “I think you have to balance the need against the risk.
“I think this is a good location for a care home to go and I’m happy to support it.
“The benefits outweigh any of the other issues.”
A motion of no objection was ultimately passed, with five councillors voting in favour and three against.
Mr Edwards asked for his vote against the motion to be recorded.
If approved, the care home will be operated by Porthaven and will include provision for a full range of nursing, residential and dementia care services and a continuing pathway of care can be offered should residents needs change over time.
The ‘future-proofed’ home will include en-suite bedrooms and communal space, including a café, activity rooms, hairdressers, lounges, dining spaces and quiet rooms.
Documents assessing the need for the facility said that the number of people aged 65 and over within the home’s catchment is projected to increase by 5,576 by 2026.
West Berkshire Council will make a decision on the application in the coming weeks.