A long-running plan to turn Rushden’s memorial clinic into flats has finally been approved.
East Northamptonshire Council’s planning committee agreed the application to turn the Victorian Villa into 14 one and two-bed flats last week (February 12), with one councillor saying despite trying their best they could not find a planning reason to refuse the plan.
It means now that the builders can begin their work on remodelling the former grand home, which became a memorial hospital for soldiers in the 1940s and then an NHS clinic.
It became redundant in 2011 after the NHS moved its base to the Nene Park Outpatients Clinic in Irthlingborough.
The council had refused an application for the building back in July last year and in August a planning inspector had refused an appeal on the grounds that that particular development, which also included an extension, would have had an impact on the character of the building.
Applicant Mr Lawson decided to bring a revised plan back to the committee with moderations which the committee said could not be refused.
Planning committee member Cllr Andy Mercer was aggrieved at having to permit the historic building to be turned into flats.
He said: “It is difficult to find a reason for refusal here no matter how I try. And trust me I tried.
“If refused we would be crucified on appeal.”
Rushden’s Cllr Dorothy Maxwell, who is not on the planning committee, spoke out against the proposal. She said the building should remain intact as a tribute to the people who lost their lives in the Second World War and questioned why more flats were needed in Rushden.
She also took issue with the size of the apartments, liking them to prison cells and saying that some would only have skylights and no windows.