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Former Newlands care home in Walmer to be demolished

Councillors have narrowly passed controversial plans to replace a former nursing home with seven homes.

Dover District Council's planning committee last night voted five to four in favour of the scheme for Newlands in Wellington Parade, Walmer.

Protesters fought to save the Edwardian building from being demolished, which they say is "iconic."

Newlands, photographed this April
Newlands, photographed this April

They are now taking legal advice following the council vote.

But planning officers, and the applicants, argued the building had fallen into a state of disrepair and new homes were needed.

The scheme is to build six flats and one house.

Cllr Sue Chandler told the meeting last night: "No more traffic would be generated than with the previous use of the site.

"This development also doesn't impact of the heritage of buildings nearby and it provides housing, which we need."

Councillors against the scheme included Helen Williams who feared it would generate too much traffic.

Cllr Sue Chandler Picture: Rebecca Holliday
Cllr Sue Chandler Picture: Rebecca Holliday

She said: "There is only a one-way bus service that stops at 7pm and there are no buses on Sundays so people would need a car.

"The road is also not wide enough for a lorry and car to pass."

She also argued that the design was out of character for the area, saying: "It is a nice design for an urban setting but this is a seaside setting."

Leading opponents to the scheme were the Wellington Road Residents' Association.

David Harris, from the group, told the meeting: "There are 84 objectors.

"Seven homes would be a gross over development and it is totally out of character with the area.

Newlands protesters at Tuesday's site meeting. Picture: James Ross
Newlands protesters at Tuesday's site meeting. Picture: James Ross

"There is a suggestion that this will help towards housing but we feel these homes will be overpriced for local people.

"Local residents will be greatly saddened to see such a development.

"We urge the committee to reject it."

Walmer Parish Council also opposed the scheme on design and density grounds and that not enough parking was provided.

The application, which would create a part single/part two storey building, is by the care home's original providers Charing Dane (Deal) Ltd.

The agent Pete Hadley, of the chartered planning consultants Robinson Escott told the meeting: "This is a high quality design and will be a worthy addition to the mixed character of the existing building is currently an eyesore and attracts continual vandalism and trespassing.

Newlands, which closed as a residential home three years ago
Newlands, which closed as a residential home three years ago

"We believe there will be less traffic generated than when it the building was an 18-bedroom care home."

Research for the council report found traffic would come from visitors to the 18 residents and the 22 to 26 staff and delivery drivers.

The amount of objections led the council to originally postpone a decision on the plan and hold a site meeting last Tuesday.

But council planning officers said they had been unable to find any information to support the argument the property was of local historical interest.

They added they were satisfied the new building would be a worthy addition to the areas' mixed character of structures.

The shabby state of the Newlands site in April
The shabby state of the Newlands site in April

Officers also felt that parking proposals were adequate.

The original Newlands ResidentialNursing Home closed in 2016 following a damning Care Quality Commission report.

Despite its unkempt appearance protesters believe that the building is a jewel in Wellington's Parade's crown.

Neighbours like Hugh Mitchell argued that the building was "iconic."

After the meeting he told KentOnline: "The care home was there for 18 years and we had no significant amount of traffic from it."

Fellow protester James Ross said: "There is only a shingle road there, so there will be too much traffic on it,which would be a danger to cyclists and walkers.

"We are disgusted at the council's decision and our legal team says that there could be grounds for a judicial review."

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