Villagers’ anger as plans for Knebworth retirement flats given green light

PUBLISHED: 07:02 10 January 2018

An artist's impression of the McCarthy and Stone development on London Road in Knebworth.

An artist's impression of the McCarthy and Stone development on London Road in Knebworth.

Archant

Planning permission for an assisted living retirement complex to be built in a village high street has been granted – despite concerns surrounding parking, increased traffic and poor use of the space.

The site on London Road in Knebworth had been home to the family business Chas Lowe and Sons Builders’ Merchants since the 1950s.

In 2009, there had been talk of the business moving to the outskirts of Knebworth, in the hope the prime location could be used to expand village services, but the site was bought by property developer McCarthy and Stone last year after brothers Peter and Kevin Lowe decided to sell up.

North Herts District Council has now granted planning permission for McCarthy and Stone to build 47 apartments for the elderly, as well as three ground floor commerical units, on the site.

Doctor Leo Batten, who lives in Orchard Way, said: “I am extremely unhappy. Knebworth is already well-serviced with care homes and assisted living flats.”

He said the parking allocation is “seriously inadequate” and is concerned the development will increase traffic congestion.

Dr Batten added: “There is a much greater need for affordable homes for younger people trying to get on the housing ladder.”

Linda Brookes, who lives in Oakfield Avenue, said: “I acknowledge the benefits of providing suitable housing for the elderly, but I strongly feel this site, which is at the heart of our village, should be developed in such a way that it brings life and vitality to the community.”

A London Road resident added: “This site has a key position within Knebworth, and just filling it with endless flats for the elderly is poor use of the space.

“The land would be better used for a mix of retail, homes and amenity space – the latter being sadly lacking within the village.”

A spokesman for McCarthy and Stone said: “We are pleased permission has been granted for our proposals and look forward to continuing to work with North Herts District Council and the residents and businesses of Knebworth in the coming months.

“Throughout the application process we have endeavoured to put forward proposals that responded to local feedback, fulfilled a local need for this type of accommodation for older people and minimised impact on neighbouring shops and properties.”

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