Controversial proposals for a 60-bed nursing home overlooking Nowton Park have been approved on appeal by a planning inspector.
The plans for the three-storey building at the Nowton Court Village site next to the Bury St Edmunds park were refused by St Edmundsbury Borough Council last April.
It said the ‘excessive scale’ and ‘utilitarian design’ of the home in very close proximity to trees of ‘high amenity value’ would have a ‘significant detrimental impact’ on people’s enjoyment of the park.
The council also felt there would be an ‘intrinsically harmful impact’ on the site.
A campaign group Park Life Nowton was formed to publicise opposition to the scale of the plan. It called for a smaller care home.
Applicant Euronite Ltd/Heritage Manor Ltd said the proposal would help address an existing and increasing shortfall of nursing home beds in the area.
The home would also cater for the last phase of residents’ needs at Nowton Court.
Following an appeal, planning inspector Lesley Coffey approved the plans.
She said that provided proposed protection measures were adhered to, the development would be ‘unlikely to have a significant adverse effect on retained trees’.
The inspector felt that the building would not intrude on the views along Nowton Park’s distinctive Lime Avenue.
She noted that the eastern wing of the property would be separated from the park’s circular walk by about eight metres.
The building’s design, with three crescent shaped wings centred around a giant redwood tree, would ‘significantly reduce its visual impact within these limited views’.
She added: “The proposal would deliver a number of benefits including addressing a shortfall in nursing home provision within the locality.
“It would also have the benefit of allowing existing residents of Nowton Court to move within the site as their care needs change rather than move to a new location.”
A spokesman for Park Life Nowton said: “This bizarre decision by a bureaucrat from central government flies in the face of strong local feeling and a democratic decision made here in Bury St Edmunds.
“It is little wonder that people are losing faith in our system.
“We will continue to oppose the destruction of historic Nowton Park by buildings unfit for this unique and peaceful setting.”
Simon Patient, managing director of Heritage Manor Ltd, added: “We have always tried to be mindful of the concerns raised through this process, especially of the impact on the surrounding park.
“We are therefore pleased that our plans have now been carefully considered and found to be sympathetic to the location.
“This nursing home site will allow more elderly and frail residents to enjoy the park and its amenities, and will provide a tranquil backdrop to their care.”