Marks Gate care home to expand despite objections

Abbey Care Home in Collier Row Road

Abbey Care Home in Collier Row Road - Credit: Archant

A care home has been allowed to expand by 310 per cent into green belt land, despite the objections of nearby residents.

Councillors approved plans to demolish Abbey Care Home, in Collier Row Road, Marks Gate, to make way for a larger home at a development control board meeting last night.

Currently housing 17 residents, the 20-bed home has 617sq m of floorspace, but is set to be transformed into a 1913sq m building with 38 beds.

Although the development intrudes into green belt land, the majority of councillors were satisfied that the plans represented very special circumstances, with eight voting for and two against.

Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas wrote a letter supporting the plans, but 10 residents sent letters of objection – five from relatives of people at the home concerned about resident welfare, the other five from neighbours unhappy about the intrusion into green land.

Cllr Edna Fergus, a qualified nurse, said: “I understand what the objectors are saying, but they may be the ones needing the care one day.”

The home, which specialises in old age and dementia care, will employ 30 full-time and 20 part-time staff members when work is complete, but will only have 15 car-parking spaces.

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Retired engineer John Torrance, 78, lives opposite the home and said outside the meeting: “I feel very depressed about it.

“I’ve got an old, 350-years-plus cottage and that is going to rot from autumn to spring because the new building will cover it in shade and it won’t be able to dry out.”

Retired book-keeper Linda Farthing, 65, has lived opposite the home for 28 years and was similarly angry about the decision.

“I came out of that meeting completely disillusioned with the system,” she said afterwards. “No consideration has been taken of the cottages.”

“We applied for a three-foot extension on the side of our house but got rejected because it’s green belt land, and yet they’re allowed to get away with this.”

Mr Cruddas has since said he will be meeting with residents and councillors over the coming weeks and months, to try resolve the issues raised.”

“The care home in its current state was struggling with the pressures caused by increased residents and families relying on its services, and needed to be upgraded or faced possible closure,” he said.

“There is currently a shortage of nursing and residential beds across the borough. In principle I therefore welcomed the expansion.

“I fully understand the worries of some of the homes residents, and for that reason it is important that there is a smooth transition with as little disruption as possible during construction if the plans are eventually agreed.”