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87-bed care home in Sutton Valence refused after GP says ‘we can’t cope with more patients’

Plans to construct a new “care village” in the countryside have been turned down, after the local GP surgery said it couldn’t cope with more patients.

Objections from the Sutton Valence Group Practice, near Maidstone, helped put a halt to proposals for an 87-bed care home and 12 assisted living apartments in the village.

Plans for an 87-bed care home in Sutton Valence were rejected
Plans for an 87-bed care home in Sutton Valence were rejected

In a statement read to Maidstone council’s planning committee, Dr Will Mangar, principal partner at the GP group, said his surgery was already under serious pressure and had been forced to close its books to new patients.

It already has one large care home in its area and another was being built in nearby Langley.

Dr Mangar said that there was a recruitment crisis and it was proving impossible to find new doctors, and therefore he feared his practice would be unable to provide safe care to the residents of the “care village.”

The council was considering a proposal from Cloverdown Ltd for the development in the grounds of Forsham House, off Forsham Lane, in Sutton Valence.

Council officers acknowledged there was a need for more care places in the borough, but nevertheless recommended refusal, saying the chosen site was in an “unsustainable location, outside the limits of built development” of Sutton Valence.

How the assisted living quarters would have looked
How the assisted living quarters would have looked

It was also said because of its size, the development would have an adverse impact on the countryside and in views from the nearby Greensand Ridge.

The applicants had submitted research showing that by 2031 Maidstone would have a shortfall of 348 standard care home spaces and 782 care beds with wet-room facilities – despite new homes being built currently.

Abheay Singh, spokesman for the applicants, argued the council was not paying enough attention to the over-riding need for extra care-home places, and said over two years of meticulous preparation the firm had “ticked all the boxes.”

He said they even guaranted to undertake a legal commitment to provide a GP specifically for the site, and the prosposal included a GP consulting room.

Cllr Wendy Young (Con) gave scant regard to that promise, saying: “GPs are extremely hard to come by.”

Cllr Wendy Young
Cllr Wendy Young

She said that the fundamental objection was that the proposal was in the open countryside and would “totally dominate in a very beautiful area.”

Cllr Clive English (Lib Dem) agreed, adding: “No-one is questioning that there is a need for more care places –but that doesn’t mean that one has to accept just any proposal that comes forward.”

The application was rejected unanimously.

Details of what had been proposed can be found on the Maidstone council website.

Use application reference number 23/5000230 to view the plans.

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