Concern over plans to demolish Downlands Park Care Home in Haywards Heath

Plans to demolish Downlands Park Care Home have caused concern among Haywards Heath residents.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 2:55 pm
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 4:08 pm

Eden Retirement Living wants to replace the Victorian building off Bolnore Farm Lane with a ‘continuing care retirement community’.

The planning application says this would consist of 66 extra care apartments with a community hub, guest suite and staff facilities together with 15 extra care cottages.

The plan also includes a proposal for 80 parking spaces.

Downlands Park Care Home, Bolnore Farm Lane, Haywards Heath. Picture: Steve Robards

Residents in the area have written to the council to object to the proposed building’s appearance and height.

One resident said it seemed ‘overbearing and intimidating and not in keeping with neighbouring properties’.

Another said the former Victorian home is one of few remaining buildings in town from this era and that it was called a ‘cherished place’ in the Haywards Heath Neighbourhood Plan.

“At the very least the main facades should be retained, even if the rear of the building needs to be modified for future use,” she said.

One resident said the plan would ‘radically change’ the rural area’s appearance and that a multi-storey building ‘would intrude into the site’s woodland setting’.

Some residents said the development could increase noise and traffic near their properties and that parking would be close to their homes.

Bolnore Farm Lane Residents Association said they were concerned about being able to access their properties if construction vehicles parked on Bolnore Farm Lane.

The residents association has requested that a parking restriction be applied to any approval so that vehicles cannot park on Bolnore Farm Lane during construction.

BFLRA also said that many mature trees and hedgerows had already been removed from Haywards Heath and that it was important to maintain the area’s heritage.

A design and access statement, prepared by Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt on behalf of Eden Retirement Living, said one aim of the development is to ‘integrate with the broader community’.

The plan, it said, is to create a ‘vibrant retirement village for people who want to retain their independence’ and that it met a need for more retirement homes.

The statement also said that Downlands Park Care Home is currently ‘an uncohesive collection of buildings and architectural styles’ because later additions to the development created a ‘confused external appearance’

The building is also vacant after BUPA relocated to a nearby facility, it said.

The statement added that simply converting the existing buildings would result in a compromised development that would increase service charges for residents.

“These costs would be better placed in providing a new high quality development, which would contribute to the local community through its facilities,” it said.

The original building dates back to 1876 as a house named Parkfield.

In 1893 it was converted into a preparatory school and in the 1980s it was converted into a nursing home.

Mid Sussex District Council has been approached for comment.

Click here to read more about the plans submitted in December last year.

To see the planning application search for DM/20/4159 at www.midsussex.gov.uk/planning.