New 66-bed Royal Navy veterans care home for Portsmouth approved despite legal row
A NEW 66-bed care home for navy veterans will be built in Portsmouth after councillors ruled against officers’ recommendations amid concerns over size and pollution.
During a heated planning committee meeting on Wednesday members overturned an expected refusal despite being told it was not legal, for the site in Locksway Road in Milton.
The home, which will be named Admiral Jellicoe House and run by the Royal Navy Benevolent Trust (RNBT), will replace the former Forest Lodge home on land south of the St James' Hospital site that is also set to be redeveloped.
During the virtual meeting, Ian Maguire, the council's assistant director of planning, said councillors couldn’t legally approve it without an appropriate assessment by officers after concerns over ‘poor design, excessive scale and massing’, as well as nitrogen pollution in the Solent worsened by building.
But Councillor Matt Atkins believed 'exceptional circumstances' were needed for a refusal. He said: ‘They reviewed a large number of sites across Portsmouth where they could put a care home of this nature.
'We have an obligation to find site for naval veterans and provide them with the care they need. They need to be exceptional circumstances to turn down these plans.’
Cllr Luke Stubbs agreed. 'I think care homes do have a standard look and feel to them because they are all dealing with the same economic constrictions,’ he said. ‘Make it too small and it won’t be viable and make it too big and you can’t fill it.’
‘That's why this application is the size it is. We could say “let’s make it smaller” but that's a way to say “let's not do it”.’
Cllr Donna Jones added: ‘I can’t understand how you can say there's no legal way to approve. I'm really really concerned about what's going on here.’
However, Cllr Lee Hunt urged the committee to defer plans to another meeting. He said: ‘I agree with the officers. I think we are accepting it far too quickly. It’s my experience from 20 years on this committee we can say no to something and it will come back.’
Four councillors voted to approve the plans and two abstained. Council officers need to lay out conditions of the recommendations and work out a nitrogen mitigation solution before it is technically approved and work can begin.
Admiral John Jellicoe was a Royal Navy officer who commanded the fleet at the Battle of Jutland in the First World War, before becoming the First Sea Lord.
The RNBT chairman of trustees, Nick Fletcher, said: ‘We are delighted that the city council has given the go-ahead for this most important project which will deliver residential, nursing and dementia care for naval veterans in Portsmouth, the home of the Royal Navy.
‘It will be the centrepiece of our centenary – what better way to mark our hundred years of care than by building such an impressive and important care home for naval veterans.’