A HOUSING scheme to support scores of older people to live independently in their own homes has been rejected after the planned complex was condemned as “horrendous” and likened to a prison block.

Hambleton District Council’s planning committee heard North Yorkshire County Council had called for an extra care scheme to be launched in Bedale, the only market town in the district without such a development offering homes with access to on-site care and support services that can be tailored to the occupiers needs.

The housing association told members the proposed development off Queen Anne’s Drive featuring 15 one-bedroom, 36 two-bedroom and eight studio apartments, residents lounges, a meeting room, public café, hair salon and numerous other rooms would represent a £12m investment in Bedale.

The meeting heard the design, which featured some three-storey elements, had been developed over a long period of time following two public consultation exercises, had been supported by Homes England and would meet the care demands of Bedale for many years to come.

However, the meeting heard scores of residents had objected to the scheme, saying the large complex would be overbearing as it would be the largest building for miles around, sited on the highest point in the town.

John Howe, of Bedale Town Council, told the committee the proposal was neither “desirable or acceptable” due its scale, design and impacts on neighbours and ecology and called on the housing association to produce a proposal that “works with the community, not against it”.

The meeting heard it would be “sheer folly” to create more traffic in an area which could not cope with current levels of traffic due to nearby schools, a doctors’ surgery and a leisure centre and which had previously seen a fatal road accident.

Bedale councillor John Noone said while he supported the county council’s ambition to create extra care in the town, the proposal was in the wrong place. He described the development’s design as “colossal”, “horrendous” and said it was “entirely out of character” with the North Yorkshire town, before likening it to a prison wing.

He said: “This huge building would be shoe-horned into a plot of land that is self-evidently not large enough to house it.”

Ahead of members refusing the scheme, Cllr Noone said the worst aspect of the proposal was the demolition of four social houses. He said: “How can a social provider justify this course of action when we are crying out in Hambleton for this kind of accommodation?”

After the meeting, the housing association said it was “very disappointed” at the decision to go against the planning officers’ recommendation of the scheme. A spokesman for the association said: “The plans, as presented to the committee, had been designed and refined following an extensive consultation process with the community and other stakeholders and would have provided 59 much-needed homes for local people identified as having a care need. This means that people living in Bedale who have this need will now have to leave the town to find suitable housing. As a community-based charity, Broadacres believes being able to age well by living independently whilst supported in your own community, close to your family, friends and local amenities is really important. This is an approach which has been successful at our four existing extra care schemes in Brompton, Stokesley, Northallerton and Leyburn.

“We are now carefully considering the decision of the planning committee and all options remain open to us at this stage.”