A PUBLIC hearing is set to take place after developers appealed the council’s decision to refuse plans to build new homes on the site of a former care home on Walney blighted by anti-social behaviour.

A government inspector will hold a public hearing after Mulberry Homes appealed a decision by Barrow in Furness local area planning committee to refuse proposals to build 17 new homes on the site of Combe House on Central Drive.

The appeal said the site had been ‘vacant’ for some time and the building was ‘increasingly falling into a poor state of repair’.

In an appeal statement the developer says: “The redevelopment of the site and delivery of housing would bring positive benefits and lead to an enhancement of the area.”

However, in response, the council say they don’t consider the the proposal to be ‘high quality sustainable or appropriate’.

The response adds: “Whilst the redevelopment of the site for residential purposes is acceptable in principle and welcomed, the manner in which the appeal proposal has been designed and laid out is not.

“It is considered that the site is capable of being redeveloped in a much more attractive and sustainable way that would still bring positive benefits such as the supply of new housing on previously developed land in an accessible location.”

At a planning meeting in October a member of staff at nearby Walney Central Nursery, which supports more than 70 families, voiced her concern over anti-social behaviour on the site and said staff had called the police on ‘numerous occasions.’

Mrs Browne spoke of the regular fires at Combe House and asked: “What happens to the 76 families if that fire engulfs the nursery or causes damage to the nursery bearing in mind there isn’t enough nursery provision in the borough for 76 families.

“Another thing is all the resources that are being used to contain the fires. There were six units for six hours last time, it is a drain on our community’s resources.”

Planning officer Andrew Willison-Holt previously told councillors the site was a suitable location for housing but ‘there are outstanding concerns and objections over what I would regard as an overdevelopment’.

The Highways Authority said the number and layout of the parking scheme was not ‘fully satisfactory’ and described some of the proposed set-up as a ‘typical layout for commercial store parking not residential’.

On the parking provision, Mr Willison-Holt told the committee it was ‘unduly contrived and convoluted’ and added the parking design would result in a ‘poor living environment’ for future residents.

However in an appeal statement the developer states: “It is considered that an appropriate balance has been struck between and efficient and viable use of this site and the provision of an appropriate level of car parking having regard to the highly sustainable nature of the site.”

The planning officer concluded at the planning meeting in October: “We do appreciate the effect of the ongoing dereliction the site’s had on the local community, it is an issue of consideration, but it has to be balanced against other considerations as well and in this instance I am of the opinion that the quality of the scheme and the possible risk it poses to highway safety outweigh the concerns over the continuing state of the site.”

He added: “The site deserves better, and the future occupants of the site deserve better.”

An agent speaking on behalf of the applicant at the meeting said the proposed housing development would help meet the housing needs of Barrow and contribute to the provision of affordable housing in the area.

The public hearing will take place on August 14 at Barrow Town Hall.