Care development on hold

Development on hold due to economic crisis.

Development on hold due to economic crisis. - Credit: Archant

THE development of a multi-million pound care village in Barrow Gurney has stopped in its tracks due to funding issues.

English Care Villages was granted permission by North Somerset Council in February last year to turn the old hospital site in Wild Country Lane into a retirement village.

But the company has been prevented from starting work on the project as it has been unable to find a bank to financially back the scheme.

David Scott-Malden, research and operations director from English Villages, said: “We are having difficulty getting development funding from banks.

“It’s not just happening in Barrow Gurney. We’ve got other sites where we’ve got consent but we’re just not in a position to be able to progress.

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“Anything that’s speculative and geared around residential apartments gets low priority with banks.

“It’s due to the state of the economy and I don’t think there’s any quick fix.

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“It’s just really hard to get funding for this type of development at the moment. It’s disappointing. There’s a strong demographic demand in terms of growing numbers of older people but this isn’t helping the position.”

Barrow Hospital was last used as a mental health hospital until it closed in 2006.

English Care Villages wants to turn the site into a care village for people aged 65 or over with 23 close care units, 38 assisted living units and communal facilities including a kitchen, restaurant, café, library, hairdresser and shop.

The complex would also boast a Wellness Suite with a swimming pool, gym, health studio and treatment rooms, which would also be available for the public to use.

Separate detached buildings would include 98 assisted living units and a 56-bed dementia care unit. An area has also been allocated for a further 43 assisted living units.

The proposals were compiled by English Care Villages, Midas Construction and site owner Del Piero and their plans also include building 43 five-bed detached houses with garages. But the company has now said it is unable to say when work might begin on the scheme.

Geoff Coombs, district councillor for Barrow Gurney, said: “This proposal was ideal for this site and was thought to be a highly suitable use.

“It’s very disappointing to hear the situation. It demonstrates the problem medium-sized businesses are having trying to drive the economy forward and being held back by the banks’ lending situation. We really are desperate to kick-start the economy.”

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