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Greaves Hotel retirement home plans raise resident hackles

John Freeman

Residents in Greaves, Lancaster, have rounded on developers McCarthy & Stone’s plans for new retirement flats, describing their consultation as a "sham" - and are campaigning for major changes to the four-storey proposal.

The plans propose the building of retirement flats by converting the Greaves Hotel and building a huge four storey extension on the adjacent carpark opposite Belle Vue Terrace.

Subject to planning permission, McCarthy & Stone are already promoting the development, anticipating construction will start in July 2013, with sales release in February 2014.

First occupations would be expected in October 2014.

Greave Hotel owners Mitchells announced they were considering closing the Hotel in January, describing it as "no longer fit for purpose", even though the venue's web site describes as having "luxury en-suite bedrooms" and "warm and inviting Lounge Bar".

The proposed "Assisted Living" development would have its own private access and "will benefit from its close proximity to nearby shops and Lancaster city centre", according to the McCrarthy & Stone web site.

"Assisted Living bridges the gap between one of our conventional retirement living developments and a residential or nursing home," say the developers. "Whilst Assisted Living will never be a substitute for a nursing home the additional features and facilities offered can help postpone the need to ever consider residential care and most importantly with McCarthy & Stone Assisted Living, you continue to retain your independence and own your own home.

"Key features include a residents' lounge, laundry room, waitress service restaurant (in the event of illness arrangements can be made to take meals to a residents flat), function room, guest suite and lifts that give access to all floors."

But opponents to the scheme told virtual-lancaster the plans for the bulk of the development will not be in matching stone and slate to the Greave Hotel but in yellow rendering with a glass roof which the developers say is being done as a deliberate “contrast”.

"They do not seem to have considered the fact that people living in Victorian sandstone terraces do not want to be faced with a tacky modern building totally out of character with the historic townscape," said Karen Mills.

"The drive into Lancaster from the south is going to get a lot more built up and uglier as a result. Local residents are not against the development of this brownfield site as such, but this development is too intensive.

"There are plans for 60 retirement flats, 17 members of staff and an onsite restaurant – yet only plans for around 20 parking places.

"Where are the residents and their visitors plus health professionals (the residents will be in their 80s) going to park ?

"The four storey building will adjoin the hotel and be the same height, towering over the houses behind and blocking the light and view of those in front."

Residents fear Belle Vue Terrace, directly opposite, will now become Blind Vue Terrace as any view across to Morecambe Bay will be hidden not just for residents but passersby.

"No longer will people walking to work be able to glimpse the Lakes and Morecambe Bay but will instead be faced with the yellow rendering of a four storey monstrosity."

But residents say their objections have been ignored as the developers pay only lip service to consultation. McCarthy and Stone hired a PR firm, The Planning Bureau, to carry out a “pre-consultation” which was a series of meetings with individual residents where people made clear their opposition.

"Residents later invited the developers to meet them as a group but this was declined," says Karen, "presumably as the developers could not face more than one of us at a time."

Even letters of objection sent to their agent Chris Butt were not answered.

McCarthy and Stone then organised a consultation at the Greaves Park Hotel, where they posted pictures of the plans which had not been altered one jot following residents’ objections.

"It is clear that the consultation is a box ticking exercise and the developers will press on regardless," feels Karen.

"A development like this makes money for McCarthy and Stone at the expense of local people, and we call on the council to reject these plans unless it is lowered to two storeys and built in stone and slate in keeping with historic Lancaster."

Jonathan Barker, one of the managing directors of Mitchell’s, who own the Greaves Hotel, said the proposals were “testing the water” for a possible future use for the site.

The building has been a pub since the early 1900s, but is no longer "fit for purpose", he told the Lancaster Guardian in January.

“We have been in discussions with McCarthy & Stone for a number of months about the site,” Mr Barker said.

McCarthy & Stone have been the developers behind several local projects in recent years including 

• Local residents have set up their own blog to highlight their concerns -