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Former clergy house and care home in Tovil, near Maidstone, to become 29-bed house of multiple occupancy

A former care home and clergy house is to be transformed into a house of multiple occupancy (HMO).

The Haven in Church Road, Tovil, near Maidstone, was deemed “inadequate” last August after a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection was carried out following the death of a resident.

The Haven in Tovil, Maidstone is to become a HMO for 29 people
The Haven in Tovil, Maidstone is to become a HMO for 29 people

It was visited in December 2022, but the report was not published until March three months later.

Investigators found the care home “unsafe”, the leadership “ineffective” and said people living there were at risk.

The business closed shortly after, with residents finding new places to live.

The building is still in the same ownership of Mr and Mrs Bhanji, of Kingston Road, south London.

An application was submitted by the pair to Maidstone council in July to convert the property into a 29-bed HMO.

Tovil's parish sign
Tovil's parish sign

Tenants, who will each have their own room, will use all formerly occupied by the care home patients.

En-suite sinks and toilets also comprise the home, with some residents to use communal showers if they don't have their own.

The ground floor of the building is to be converted to a large shared kitchen with six hobs, plus there will be two communal living areas and a communal conservatory.

Parking spaces would be increased from five to nine, with six cycle spaces provided.

The substantial building was once the vicarage to St Stephen’s Church, which was demolished in 1990, although you can still walk around its graveyard, and the building is still remembered in the Tovil Parish sign.

St Stephen's Church, seen from Church Road
St Stephen's Church, seen from Church Road

Information released on the application's planning statement says: "The building currently stands empty.

"The proposed change of use would make a positive contribution to housing in the area, providing a particular type of accommodation for a particular need.

"It will allow affordable and sustainable living in an urban area."

The application was put before Maidstone council's planning committee following objections by Tovil Parish Council.

Despite being recommended for approval, prior to being given the green light there were objections to it on the grounds of a lack of outside amenity space for the new residents.

They also raised concerns about the number of parking spaces, which cannot be mitigated by on-street parking because of the restricted availability in the area.

Finally, they added that although the care home could have had 29 residents previously, they were largely dementia patients who did not have a need for individual vehicles, whereas the new residents will have a much greater need for personal transport.

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