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£30m renovation of Wildernesse House care home in Seal, Sevenoaks given go-ahead by council

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Plans to renovate an iconic, Grade II listed building in Sevenoaks - at a cost of £30m - have been given the go-ahead.

Wildernesse House was home to the Royal London Society for Blind People for over 60 years until 2013 when retirement housing provider, Pegasus Life, became the new owner.

Last summer bosses revealed plans to demolish parts of the Seal Georgian mansion, formerly known as Dorton House, and construct three new buildings as part of a state-of-the-art care home.

Wildernesse House in Seal
Wildernesse House in Seal

The redevelopment - which could be completed by spring 2017 - will include the demolition of parts of the mansion and the construction of a kitchen, bar, care facilities, library and a gym.

There will also be parking for up to 118 cars and an access driveway.

The 49 acre site has been at the centre of previous planning disputes, including a failed attempt by local residents to have it listed as a community asset.

An aerial view of the site
An aerial view of the site

Plans were subject to a huge amount of criticism. Both Seal Parish Council and Sevenoaks Town Council argued against proposals.

The town council claimed plans were unsympathetic to the house and inappropriate within a green belt area.

Parish councillors also raised concerns over traffic but chief planning officer Richard Morris believed works would result in less than substantial harm to the listed building, which would be "outweighed by public benefits in enhancing the character and integrity of the building".

Despite issues cited by a number of campaigners, the application was given the green light at a development control committee meeting last night.

Plans for a second large scale care home in Seal are due to go before the council on May 27.

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