Dozens object to retirement homes scheme at college site

Dozens object to retirement homes scheme at college site

Dozens of people have objected to plans to knock down old college buildings to make way for retirement apartments in Chippenham.

Many of the opponents of the scheme drawn up by elderly care giant Anchor and retirement housing specialist McCarthy Stone say the town is already swamped by such facilities.

They and some local councillors are urging Wiltshire Council to reject the plans so the site can be used for a new arts and community centre.

Time is running out for people to comment on the application, which envisages a total of 113 apartments at the former Wiltshire College site in Cocklebury Road.

In recent years, new accommodation for older people has been built at the town’s old police station, the former Thomas car dealership site, and around the former Golddiggers nightclub.

Wiltshire councillor Liz Alstrom has said eco-homes and some form of community centre would be a better use for the site.

“Given that Chippenham has seen several retirement developments built over the last few years, many of which still have apartments that remain empty or unsold, I am concerned about this development taking place. It doesn’t make sense to build more when there’s already a surplus here. Furthermore, whilst these flats are lying empty, we have local young people and families in Chippenham that need affordable homes.”

Another county councillor, Dr Nick Murry, has asked for the scheme to be discussed by politicians before a final decision is made.

His objections are that the design of the new building is out of keeping with its surroundings, and a lack of commitment to net zero principles.

Chippenham Town Council has also objected, echoing these concerns and asking why some elements of the existing late Victorian technical school building could not be retained.

It also says the applicants have failed to properly engage with the town council and with criticism of the design.

Among the comments from local residents which sum up the opposition is one from Frances Nash: “Chippenham doesn’t need any more retirement accommodation, as there is already a surplus, unoccupied. The Victorian, red-bricked college building should not be destroyed, it is important to the town’s heritage. The original college building could be used for the community, whilst the newer build at rear could be converted into affordable and sustainable homes, thus fulfilling various of the town and its community’s needs.”

The proposal is for two separate buildings, made up of one-bedroom or two-bedroom homes.

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