Beccles care home owners plan to keep it open despite plan for flats approved

The former Wainford House in Beccles. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

The former Wainford House in Beccles. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

Owners of a struggling care home in Beccles say it will continue as a care home despite securing planning permission to redevelop it for flats.

Councillor Norman Brooks said the Wainford House building was not suitable for care home provision.

Councillor Norman Brooks said the Wainford House building was not suitable for care home provision. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK CONSERVATIVES - Credit: Archant

Farrington Care Homes Ltd lodged plans to convert the Grade II Listed Wainford House care home in Saltgate into nine flats – five one-bedroom and four two-bedroom.

The home is rated ‘inadequate’ by the health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which looked to remove the home’s registration.

In its planning statement, Parker Planning Services on behalf of Farrington said that the “site itself is no longer fit for purpose” which prompted a new use to be sought, with planning officers also under the impression that it would be closing in the near future.

However, Farrington has now claimed that it plans to continue running it as a home for as long as possible.

Vinay Nathwani from the firm said: “We did receive a very disappointing report from CQC back in December 2019 which led to a request from CQC to remove our registration.

“We believe very strongly in the home and fought legally against the decision and with success we were able to overturn the regulator’s decision to close the home down with legal costs to ourselves ranging over £100,000 plus some excellent support from the local Suffolk council.

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“The home itself has also been subject to vast improvements including a whole new management team, fully decorated front and façade and full renovation of all hallways and bedrooms. We are very proud of the establishment we run.

“We at Farrington would like to make clear that we intend to run Wainford House as a care facility for as long as we can long into the future. We would be happy to show anyone around the site and our wonderful residents anytime.”

East Suffolk Council’s planning north committee approved the plans to convert it to nine flats by eight votes to one at its meeting on Tuesday, October 13.

Councillor Norman Brooks said: “This is most spectacularly unsuitable for a care home.

“The rooms are small and very tight.

“I don’t think anybody is going to put this back into use as a care home, it’s just not viable and in consequence what we can do to keep it [in use] is to approve this application.”

Councillor Andree Gee added: “This way forward would be a means of ensuring that both the exterior and the interior is retained as well as possible.

“I do think it’s essential we keep this beautiful building alive.”

Parker’s planning statement said: “We acknowledge some parties may continue to lament the loss of the care provision but it must be recognised that it is the property itself that has rendered that use inappropriate.

“If it were not a listed building then maybe more could be done to explore the adaptation of the building, but it is listed and therefore significant adaptation is not possible.”

Concerns were raised over the number of parking spaces, as only a maximum of six could be provided, while Beccles Town Council in its written submission also had fears about the access onto Puddingmoor and the loss of a walnut tree among other issues.

The Beccles Society has also raised concerns over lack of parking and access arrangements.

However, the provision of nine homes in a town centre location coupled with the continuing use of a Grade II Listed building were felt to outweigh the concerns.

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