Neighbour’s concerns over ‘overbearing’ development

An artist's impression of Abbeyfield's proposed Alnwick hub, subject to further consultation and planning permission.
An artist's impression of Abbeyfield's proposed Alnwick hub, subject to further consultation and planning permission.

Residents living near the site of a proposed development for elderly people are angry at the three-storey building’s proximity to their properties.

As reported in last week’s Gazette, Abbeyfield has applied to replace the existing Abbeyfield House and Ravenslaw House, on South Road, Alnwick, with a new development featuring 28 Extra-Care flats for independent living – 16 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom – and 31 care suites.

But one resident of neighbouring Ravenslaw Gardens has raised concerns, in reference to the image above, describing it as less an artist’s impression and more a ‘falsehood’.

Mary Hipwell said: “It is deliberately exaggerating the space between our houses in Ravenslaw Gardens and the three-storey building. In fact, the building will be built hard up against our back fences.

“Abbeyfield say they are entitled to cut our light into our sitting rooms by nearly a half. We will not be able to see the sky from our sitting room. They say that three storeys of balconies looking down into our houses is acceptable.

“Abbeyfield has also said in their planning application that they can put up an ugly building because our houses will shield it from the main road. They are happy for us to have to live beside it. I do not understand why they cannot simply move the building further back on the site.”

The residents of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 Ravenslaw Gardens have all submitted objections to the scheme.

Richard Virr, Abbeyfield development director, said: “Northumberland County Council, as good practice, usually requires a minimum offset distance of 21m from facing first-floor habitable rooms, although this may be reduced in particular circumstances. In our case we have a minimum 23m to one property with the others in excess of this.

“To address any concerns of light reduction, a third party report by a Right to Light surveyor has identified that the new building meets all the requirements set by the British Research Establishment as best practice.

“We would encourage any interested parties to view the documentation which is publicly available to get an accurate account of the situation.”

He added: “Abbeyfield’s original care home was built more than 30 years ago and is no longer fit for purpose.”