Plans to convert Swanage care home into flats

A planning application has been submitted to change Wordsworth Care Home in Swanage into 16 apartments, following its closure after the death of 16 residents from Covid.

The large Victorian property in Durlston, one of the most desirable areas of Swanage, was put up for sale shortly after it ceased operating in May 2021, unable to financially recover from the Covid crisis.

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No provision for homes designated as affordable

Planning permission is now being sought by Ken Parke Planning Consultants on behalf of its clients Mr and Mrs Cooke, to convert the house and build a new three storey side extension. This would provide 15 two bedroom apartments and a one bedroom apartment.

Despite Dorset Council planning officers advising in advance that some affordable housing would be required, the application makes it clear that the proposal does not include any homes designated as affordable and the flats would be sold on the open market.

Architect plans for Wordsworth Care Home
UX Architects

The proposed redevelopment plans

Wordsworth house

The existing frontage of Wordswoth Care Home

Wordsworth house

The current back of Wordsworth Care Home with seaviews from the upper floors

“Site cannot support any affordable housing provision”

In a report by Karen Beech from Ken Parke Planning Consultants it says:

“The economic viability assessment and the commercial viability report submitted with the planning application confirm that redevelopment of the site cannot support any affordable housing provision.”

This is because the property is empty and therefore qualifies for a vacant building credit which reduces the percentage of affordable accommodation required by law.

In addition, the applicant claims that an economic viability report, which has been sent to officials but not made public, says that the redevelopment wouldn’t be financially worthwhile if it had to include affordable accommodation, although with the vacant building credit, this requirement would only be two homes.

Wordsworth house

The plans include building a new wing on this side of the property

Redevelopment of brownfield sites

The vacant building credit exists to encourage redevelopment of brownfield sites, rather than seeing them left empty.

The report mentions that the property has been marketed without success as a care home for more than 9 months in the last 12 month period and adds that a change of use is justified:

“It is evident that the building can no longer compete with the supply of bespoke modern extra care units that are now being constructed.”

Convalescence home for people with TB

The property in Belle Vue Road, which was constructed in the late 19th century, has an interesting history.

It was once a convalescence home for people with tuberculosis, as well as a private dwelling, a hotel and most recently a care home. In the 1980s a new wing was built to increase the number of rooms for the care home.

The Downs

The Downs, recently designated as a Local Nature Reserve, is a minute’s walk away from the property

Pipistrelle bats spotted

The application notes that a number of environmental surveys have spotted pipistrelle bats on the roof hanging from tiles, so the application makes provision for an integrated bat box along with suitable hanging tiles. It’s also proposed to include bricks to home swifts and bees.

Solar panels on the roof are included in the planning application along with a landscaping scheme beneficial to wildlife.

Wordsworth house

It’s proposed to make the new addition in the 1980s more sympathetic to the original building

“Sensible and beneficial high quality new residential scheme”

The report concludes:

“This application proposal represents a sensible and beneficial high quality new residential scheme in a sustainable location.

“The potential to provide 16 new homes represents a considerable benefit which should be given much weight in this constrained area, with an unmet housing need.”

Further information

  • The planning application ( P/FUL/2022/07397) can be viewed on the Dorset Council website
  • Any comments may be sent to Dorset Council planning officers until Tuesday 3rd January 2023

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