Hitchin sheltered scheme proposed for Minsden care home site

The former Minsden care home in Hitchin. Picture: John Francis

The former Minsden care home in Hitchin. Picture: John Francis - Credit: Archant

A Hitchin care home that was earmarked for housing could be replaced by retirement flats.

Minsden, a care home off Wratten Road West, closed in 2015 – with North Herts District Council granting outline planning permission for 11 homes in 2016.

Now the district council has received a planning application for a Churchill Retirement Living sheltered scheme of 53 apartments, with communal facilities and 26 parking spaces.

Churchill Retirement, based in Hampshire, is behind Astonia Lodge in Stevenage. It is also seeking planning permission for a scheme in Royston’s Mill Road.

The proposed Hitchin scheme is already listed on the company’s website, where the development is described as boasting 36 flats. The planning application is for 32 one-bedroom and 21 two-bedroom apartments, across three storeys, and for sale only to people aged 60 or over.

Minsden sits alongside the A602 Park Way and next to the Girton Court sheltered scheme, run by North Hertfordshire Homes.

Under the Churchill Retirement Living plan, Minsden and neighbouring Sheridan House would be demolished to make way for the new scheme.

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The application describes the plan as a way to better complement the Hitchin Conservation Area, which lies to the north and east of the site.

“Redevelopment of the site creates scope for a high-quality development which complements the remaining historic context and allows a distinctive set of buildings to come forward that will be of townscape value and create an active street frontage,” the report says.

It concludes the plan would “would provide much-needed retirement living accommodation in an attractive and safe environment, within a defined urban area and in proximity to the town centre.”

Churchill Retirement Living leafleted about 480 neighbours and 20 businesses about the plan last year, with four responses received – two in favour, one undecided and one objecting.

Concerns were raised about the width of the proposed access road and the size of the car park.

The statement says the parking space ratio of 0.49 is significantly higher than the ratio of 0.32 normally provided by Churchill Retirement Living, and that the site’s central location would reduce reliance on private cars.

To have a look at the proposal for yourself, go to the planning portal at north-herts.gov.uk and search for reference 17/02771/1.