A planning application for a three-storey nursing home overlooking Nowton Park has been refused by a small majority.
Members of St Edmundsbury’s development control committee were today almost evenly split between those who felt the 60-bed home was too big for the Nowton Court site next to the Bury St Edmunds park and those who felt it was designed to blend in.
Nine councillors voted to reject it, while seven voted against refusal.
Rosemary Phillips of Park Life Nowton, which was formed to publicise opposition to the plan, said they accepted the need for accommodation but would prefer a smaller nursing home. She backed planning officers’ description of the building as ‘utalitarian’.
John Popham, speaking for the applicants Euronite and Heritage Manor, said: “The impact on the park will be very localised. It will not have an impact the rest of the park.”
He said the side closest to the park would use darkened glass to reduce its visual impact by reflecting trees.
Carol Perry from Nowton Parish Council said they were concerned about traffic emerging onto a busy road and felt the county Highways idea of widening the opposite side of the road would not help. Some borough councillors later agreed with her.
Ward councillor Terry Clements said the scale of the building was out of place. He added: “I haven’t known an application that’s had so many responses.”
Cllr Angela Rushton said: “A three storey building is too big on this site. If they removed the top floor I would consider approval.”
Cllr Julia Wakelam said: “It’s a surprise to come across Nowton Court as you walk around the park. A building of this size would have too great an impact.”
Cllr Peter Stevens added: “I think this building has integrity and there’s obviously a need, but I don’t think it’s the right location – you’re going to compromise what is a historic 19th century arboretum.”
But other councillors said while they disliked the impression given by the initial drawings, they changed their minds after visiting the site and seeing colour renditions.
Cllr Alaric Pugh observed: “The somewhat Soviet style of the original drawings have done this scheme a huge disservices.
“For me the building is as sensitive as a building could be on that site.”