Mayor welcomes homes for elderly in ‘neglected’ Wetherby area

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A ‘neglected’ part of Wetherby could be redeveloped to provide homes for the largest portion of its population – older people.

Owners of the former Benfield Motors car show room on Deighton Road revealed plans for closure in 2012, and in the years since the site has remained empty. However, a renewed bid to build 56 sheltered apartments for people over the age of 60 on the site could see a neglected brownfield area taken up to accommodate this important provision.

Mayor of Wetherby Coun Harry Chapman.

Mayor of Wetherby Coun Harry Chapman.

Developer Churchill Retirement Living Ltd has submitted the plans which, according to a planning statement, ‘would provide much needed sheltered accommodation for the elderly’, ‘making better use of a brownfield site’.

Mayor of Wetherby Coun Harry Chapman told the News he is fully supportive of the proposals, which would benefit both the elderly people in the town and for an area of Wetherby in need of attention.

He said: “We have a lot of elderly people in Wetherby, it has become an elderly town, so we are certainly in need of developments for them and the more the merrier.

“It also has the benefit of releasing some of the houses for younger people who want them.

“It is getting such a mess down there and after a year of this you tend to think anything would be better.

“It is totally tatty and there are broken windows and it really needs sorting.”

In 2015 figures indicate that a third of households will be headed by someone aged over 65 and 75 per cent of older people will be owner-occupiers.

Over the last two years the industry has only built 500 new homes for older people, and in places like Wetherby this is a real issue.

According to Churchill Retirement, there is forecast to be an increase of 8.5 per cent, 9,600 more people in the over 65 group between now and 2017 in the Wetherby area, and the 75 and older age group is expected to increase by 65.4 per cent by 2037.

Managing director Andrew Burgess said: “We think there is a considerable need for this type of accommodation in Wetherby and that is accepted by us and the council.”

After losing an appeal against Leeds City Council (LCC) for non-determination of its initial plans for 63 apartments, Churchill Retirement Living Ltd resubmitted these proposals, with significant amendments.

There are now 56 apartments planned, the height of the fronting has been reduced, glazed links break up the buildings, and much of the rest of the proposal, including the scheme’s entrance, windows, and landscaping, has been redesigned.

A decision is expected in late March or early April 2015.