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Dont rely on the governments planning reform to make securing consent easier the battle at local level remains

s as fierce as ever. his January a front page article in the Daily Telegraph reported on another assault on planning laws by the Coalition

New care developments plan for success in 2014


David Madden

for their own community. Hence, locally unpopular developments are often still being delayed or refused outright, regardless of how well they meet national policy requirements. To make matters more complicated, the care sector faces its own unique challenges in the world of planning. There is growing anecdotal evidence that many local authorities are subtly discouraging new care home development in their areas despite clear demographic need because they dont government. The somewhat lurid story want to be exposed to the financial risk warned that developers would be given of having to cover the cost of care for residents whose savings drop below the the power to push through applications without council approval. cut-off for self-funding. At a time when local authorities are seeing their A closer reading actually shows the new proposals, due to be implemented funding cut by 40 per cent over a five year period (2011-16), its not hard to in April this year, are not nearly so see why this might be happening. radical. Instead, they will simply For specialist services, whether its change some of the criteria for Environmental Assessments and enable dementia care for older people or residential support for people with developers to move ahead with learning disabilities and complex needs, development on plans that have been there is the additional challenge of granted permission if councils fail to overcoming prejudice and fear. The discharge planning conditions in a reasonable time hardly the assault on independent sector has come in for a democracy the article implies. Planning very rough ride in the media over recent years and plans for a new home and the Coalitions approach to new can generate a lot of opposition if the development, is something of a bte noire for the Telegraph, which launched process isnt carefully managed from the start. a Hands Off Our Land campaign to A common misconception weve enoppose policy changes not long after countered many times in the early the Coalition was formed. stages of a planning project is the Its fair to say the Coalition has perception that safe and secure done a lot to reduce red tape around dementia care = prisons for elderly new development since it came to people. This lack of understanding, if power in 2010. Replacing numerous not addressed from a very early stage, Planning Policy Guidance notes and can often transform into vocal and Planning Policy Statements with the widespread opposition. However, if you streamlined National Planning Policy make the effort to consult with the Framework (NPPF), and the much community stakeholders wholl influtouted principle of a presumption in ence and even determine your plans, favour of sustainable development and nip those misconceptions in the were designed to help kick start the bud, you can reap real rewards. Open economic recovery, enabling new and straightforward communication development to proceed more quickly can help to resolve a lot of issues and efficiently. before they become objections and can Care providers who want to grow in some cases, with the right encourmight have expected to reap the agement, generate active support. benefits of this fresh new approach If you are planning to grow in 2014 after all, a new care home provides a the simple advice is, dont rely on much needed resource for local communities, generates jobs and meets government policy changes to make the planning process any easier. Make an important social need. sure you consult with the local But the fact is, at the coalface, the community youre looking to operate battle to secure planning consent for within. Dont rely on support from the care homes, like many other forms of development, remains as challenging as local authority make sure you engage with other stakeholders to demonstrate ever. the need for your proposals and get Local authorities dont like being their backing. Consult widely and dictated to from on high and the consult early, before you submit your Coalition faces a unique challenge Conservative councils blame the Liberal plans, and be prepared to address a lot of misconceptions. Democrat half of government for Despite the Telegraphs worst fears, policies they dont like and Lib Dem the UK planning system isnt turning councils blame the Conservative half. into a developers playground any Labour councils blame them both. time soon. Councillors sitting on the committees David Madden is a Senior Consultant that determine major applications (and care home schemes normally fall under and Head of Planning at PLMR, the leading public affairs and public this definition) will often give short relations consultancy for the health and shrift to national policy and base their social care sector. decisions on what they consider best

Care agency expansion plans

are provider Avens Ltd. have acquired a former care home in need of renovation and are beginning a three stage redevelopment program. Previously a 27 bed residential care home for the elderly, the property, in Raunds Northamptonshire will undergo extensive renovation in order for Avens to offer care to 12 adults with Learning Disabilities in first class surroundings. The building which has been vacant for several years is undergoing the first stage of a three phase development. Stage one is scheduled to be completed in early April and entails securing the property, weather proofing and updating the heating, water and drainage systems. The second phase plan is to get the operational and communal areas, as well as some of the bedroom suites of the home up and running, before embarking on completing the rest of the suites. By utilising existing space differently, room has been allocated for the installation of en-suite facilities to all of the expansive propertys bedrooms. The home, formally called Kingfisher Residential Care Home will be known as The Ferns and will double Avens provision of residential care in Northamptonshire. The Ferns will be lead by CEO Christopher Andrews who said: Im proud to be leading Avens forward in into this new venture. This acquisition underlines Avens strategy to expand the range of services that we provide. The opening of The Ferns means employment for people in Raunds but most importantly it means that Avens can provide access to topquality services and a caring home for 12 individuals with high dependency needs. Mrs Julie Morrison, currently managing Avens Ltd.s successful Northamptonshire supported living operation, has been appointed as the manager of The Ferns and will bring her knowledge and expertise of the care industry to assist Mr Andrews in setting up the project. Julie has spoken to a number of people from Raunds who all have been supportive of the venture and positive about seeing the property, which has been in significant disrepair, come back into use. She said: Im thrilled to have been appointed as manager of The Ferns. Its an exciting start to 2014 and we are currently busy planning our newest service. Im looking forward to the challenges ahead and bringing this building back to life. Avens hopes to have The Ferns open and welcoming residents by summer 2014.

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Healthcare Business April 2010