Rushden Memorial Clinic over 55s flat conversion set for approval

The Victorian Villa was built by the Claridge family and was most recently home to the Rushden Memorial Hospital.
The Victorian Villa was built by the Claridge family and was most recently home to the Rushden Memorial Hospital.

Plans to convert a Victorian villa in Rushden into flats for the over-55s are set for approval despite objections.

Rushden Town Council says the plans for a 14-flat development in the former memorial clinic on the Hayway are not needed as 350 flats have already been created in the town in the past five years.

Ten residents have also put in written objections to the scheme which contains two more flats than an earlier proposed plan.

But council planning officers are recommending that the conversion is given the go-ahead by the councillors at the planning meeting at East Northamptonshire Council on Wednesday (Jul 10).

In a letter to planners Rushden Town Council says: “Rushden already has an over provision of flatted developments.

“We consider this to be a more than sufficient provision of this type of accommodation. We have historically had a disproportionate number of flatted developments approved within the town and we feel that this now must be redressed and a sensible balance of development restored.

“A division into four larger apartments offering reasonable amenity space would be acceptable but the 14 units is not acceptable and is in conflict with our neighbourhood plan.”

The development plans to create 10 two-bedroom apartments and four one- bedroom flats. The earlier plan for 12 flats was refused by the committee last year. Two bungalows which formed part of this scheme have been left out of the new proposal.

The Victorian villa does not have conservation status but the planning report says it is listed as a ‘building of significant importance’.

It was built by the Claridge family who were prominent in the boot and shoe industry. It was a residence until the mid 1950s when it became the memorial hospital and was used by the NHS until 2011. Since then it has been unused.

The council’s senior conservation officer says the reuse of the building is welcomed as it will retain a number of architectural features. They do however say there are some shortcomings to the scheme and the proposed flat roof single storey extension would be detrimental to the character of the building.

The planning report says the key difference between the two scheme is the introduction of the over 55s stipulation. This was suggested by the planning committee when it earlier refused the application. The report says this type of housing is needed in the town.

The meeting takes place at the council officers in Cedar Drive at 7pm on July 10.