The Consultation

Our planning application for a Continuing Care Retirement Community at Sladnor Park, Maidencombe, has been submitted to Torbay Council.

The proposed development, which will serve Torquay and the surrounding area, will offer a range of flexible accommodation and care options for older people depending on whether they need higher or lower levels of support.  

Between October 2017 and March 2018, we ran an extensive consultation to find out the public’s views on the proposal. The majority of feedback supported the development, with people citing the need for such a development for either themselves, relatives or the community in general.

The scheme has been designed to support Torbay Council’s assessment of future adult social care needs which are expected to increase rapidly as the area’s population ages. The council’s report estimates that, by 2030, around one in three people (32%) in Torbay will be aged 65 or over.

The proposed facility will also create over 100 new jobs for local people, as well as over 180 jobs during construction, and generate an estimated £160,000 per annum in additional business to local suppliers. Local residents will also be able to use many of the retirement community’s facilities including the café, bar, restaurant and wellness suite.

Feedback can be submitted to Torbay Council by visiting www.torbay.gov.uk/newpublicaccess.

To view the materials that were displayed at our public exhibitions in March please click here.  

FAQs

About the Facility

What is the Continuing Care Retirement Community at Sladnor Park?

The proposed development is a 159-unit retirement community at Sladnor Park, Maidencombe, which will serve Torquay and the surrounding area. It will offer a range of flexible accommodation and care options for older people depending on whether they need higher or lower levels of support. Residents will be able to continue to live in a home of their own, supported by a comprehensive and flexible network of personal care services and activities. Two types of accommodation will be available – close care apartments for those requiring higher levels of support and assisted living apartments for those with lower care needs.

For more information, click here

Why is this facility needed?

Facilities like this are urgently needed in the area as Torbay’s over-70 population is expected to increase by 28.1%, from 24,000 to 30,700, by 2025.  Over one in five people who live within a 40-minute drive of the site are aged 65 or over (89,000 out of almost 438,000).  These figures, and a shortage of registered care beds, mean there is a predicted shortfall of over 15,000 residential care beds by 2030.

Why was Sladnor Park chosen?

As the site of a former holiday complex, Sladnor Park has been developed before. A similar scheme, for another care village in Sladnor Park, was previously consented in 2006 but our proposal has a smaller footprint and has more physical breaks between the buildings to create open views around the site. Sladnor Park is a part-brownfield site and there are already 16 dwellings on site that are former holiday lodges and have residential status.  

Sladnor Park overlooks the waters of Lyme Bay and residents will enjoy wonderful natural scenery and dramatic sea views. We hope this beautiful environment will contribute to residents’ happiness and encourage them to live an active, independent and fulfilling later life. Market research has shown that 50 per cent of retirees want to live in a rural environment preferably in a bungalow for single-level living.   

What is different about this facility?

The retirement community will offer the benefits of a traditional care home in residents’ own homes. Where residents choose to live may be determined by their immediate or future care needs - they can choose to live independently in a pavilion apartment or in close care accommodation near the village centre - but our mission is to deliver flexible care in a real community atmosphere.  

We believe the facility will make residents feel secure, reduce feelings of social isolation, improve levels of well-being and happiness and, at the same time, provide levels of care offered by a traditional care home.   

This project has a vision of a better life for older people at the same time as helping to address the extreme pressures faced by our health and social care services. Senior figures in the NHS have warned that the demographic time bomb is no longer ticking but has already gone off. Our population currently has more than three million people aged over 80 years old and, by 2030, this figure is projected to almost double. We will work with the NHS to provide specialist care, rehabilitation and convalescent facilities that can help to unblock beds for other NHS patients with acute care needs. 

What about the current residents at Sladnor Park?

Most of the former holiday lodges are rented out as short-term, renewable lets. Several tenants have already given notice and tenants who live in the other dwellings have plenty of time to find other accommodation before they need to move out.

How will the new units be sold?

The properties will all be sold on a long lease and there will be no ground rent. Shared ownership and rented properties will also be offered as part of a mixed tenure package.  Pricing structure will be driven by the understanding that many buyers own their own homes outright.

How will site deterioration be managed? Is there a sinking fund for the site?

English Care Villages will manage the site in perpetuity and there will be a sinking fund. Build quality is high to start with, and a maintenance budget and residents’ fees will be set at the beginning. When a property is sold, a retrospective fee will be charged, some of which will be allocated to the sinking fund, which will be used to pay big bills, thereby reducing the load on day-to-day management fees.

About English Care Villages

Who are English Care Villages?

English Care Villages is an experienced care provider established in 2008. We are committed to offering a retirement community in which life revolves around close and continuing contact with staff, other residents and friends – minimising loneliness, helplessness and boredom. We are also committed to being a good neighbour and to working with the local community to provide a facility that is an asset to the area.

What is the cost of the facility?

The project value is approximately £70m.

Is this just a money making scheme for the developer?

Like all private care providers, we have a responsibility to our shareholders, however, this facility will also generate significant economic benefits to the area. Our environmental, social and economic impact assessments estimate that a typical 150-unit retirement village will contribute economically:

  • Around 105 new full and part-time jobs.
  • Approximately 187 jobs during the construction phase.
  • £1.7 million in on-going salary to local workers.
  • At least £160,000 per annum in additional business to local suppliers.
  • Around £1.3 million increased expenditure in the local economy by residents per annum (including the multiplier effect).

However, the driving force behind our work is the development of positive residential environments where people can remain socially engaged, comfortable, safe and secure while they enjoy later life.

Will this facility increase costs for Torbay Council?

Retirement villages generate substantial additional council tax receipts for the relevant local authority. The financial benefit of an average 150-unit retirement village is estimated to be between £152,000 and £190,000 depending on the local council tax rate and the level of discounts available. 

Independent evidence has shown that residents of retirement living and extra care schemes make about three fewer visits to a GP than a typical person aged 65 or over.

Landscape and Design

What will the development look like?

Across the whole site, there are six pavilion buildings and five close care buildings, two of them situated in the woods, for people with higher care needs. All the pavilions sit in a smaller combe or valley, largely hidden from view from the main buildings and the village centre by trees or by a wooded outcrop.

The accommodation has been designed within the contours of the landscape so that most buildings do not impede the clear views looking into the site from the coastal path. The proposed model has been reviewed by Torbay Council’s design panel of independent architects and consultants and additional changes have been made in keeping with their findings and recommendations. 

A two-level car park, providing 70 spaces, has been built under the main building to limit the impact of parked cars and maintain the natural landscape.

For a video tour of the proposed development, visit www.torquaycarevillage.com

Will the development affect the natural drainage and increase the risk of flooding?

The natural run-off for rainwater is from the top road down into Maidencombe and the facility would be required to maintain a greenfield (i.e. pre-development) run-off rate. 

The drainage system will be designed to appropriately manage the proposed development’s drainage demands. However, to improve the local situation and help ensure that even in abnormally bad weather there is no flooding below the site, we will construct a series of infiltration trenches, or French drains, along the contour lines to absorb any excess water. These trenches will be dug across the site from the top to the bottom. We will also equip buildings with a self-contained ‘grey water’ tank, which will store excess rainwater for re-use. This means that the site will, in effect, decrease the likelihood of flooding at the bottom of the hill, i.e. it will improve upon the current situation.

What about sewage?  

The retirement village will be connected to mains sewage. There will be a two-stage pumping system that feeds into the existing public sewer network in Teignmouth Road.

South West Water has confirmed a suitable connection point and that capacity exists to accommodate the flows from the development.

What about the folly? Are you going to restore it?

The folly will be repaired and reinstated as a place to rest and enjoy the views.

Local Services and Amenities

Will local people have priority for places in the facility?

We are proposing a cascade approach to marketing, which would be controlled by the S106 Legal Agreement for the site. This means that we would market the units only in a local area for a certain period of time before marketing the units more widely across a larger geography. We will seek to agree with the council a suitable definition of ‘local’ and appropriate time and other restrictions on marketing. This will give local people who are in unsuitable accommodation the opportunity to move to the development. Data from other schemes show that most people stay in their local area and close to family and friends.

Isn’t there more of a need for lower priced care homes and residential facilities

There is a need for more care homes and residential villages across the financial spectrum. Good retirement homes have long waiting lists.

Will the facility put a strain on local health services?

A person living in a care village averages fewer GP visits per year than a person in the wider community. Our impact assessments show that, over a 12-month period, residents of a care village make an average of just 4.7 visits a year to see their GP, compared to a national average of 6.7 visits for men and 7.4 visits for women aged over 65.

Can non-residents use the community’s facilities?

As ‘friends of the village’, local residents will also be able to use many of the retirement community’s facilities including the café and bar, which will offer varying styles of food and drink. We will also make our meeting rooms available to locals for clubs, U3A education and private parties.

What about transport? Will the community's residents be reliant on local buses?

We have a comprehensive transport fleet and will offer a service, providing transport for residents and non-residents to local appointments and shops, as well as excursions to places of interest and entertainment.

Traffic and Parking

How much will the traffic increase (a) during construction and (b) once the facility is operational.  

Based on the draft scheme, our assessment shows that the traffic from this type of development is generally of a low level, particularly in peak hours (about 14-17 trips in the peak hours). This is because the nature of future occupiers means that movements are typically dispersed throughout the day rather than concentrated at peaks.

A resident travel service will be provided. This is likely to include a minibus for resident trips and a small fleet of electric vehicles.

A staff travel plan will also be put in place and monitored. This is likely to include provisions such as a minibus pickup from Torquay and subsidised public transport. The no. 22 bus (Dawlish-Torquay-Paignton) stops close to the site and offers one service per hour. 

Whilst we cannot confirm the total construction vehicle numbers at this stage, it is unlikely that the number of movements will be significant. Furthermore, a construction management plan will be implemented to limit the numbers of these vehicles where possible and provide guidance on timings for deliveries and appropriate routes.

What about site access? The current exits/entrances to Sladnor Park have limited visibility.

The proposed development will enhance and formalise the existing access to the site. Also, as the level of traffic will be low and dispersed throughout the day, the exits and entrances will not become overly busy at any particular time.

The development also has a sustainable transport plan that will reduce traffic as well as the carbon footprint of the development.   

What precautions will you take to avoid lorries clogging up the road during construction?

The proposal will take construction traffic into account and put forward mitigation measures including a construction management plan, which will set out the hours of operation and be prepared and agreed with the highway authority before the start of construction work. This construction management plan can also provide appropriate guidance on timings for deliveries and appropriate routes.

An earthworks strategy will aim to retain as much material as possible on site to reduce the need for disposal vehicles.

Will it be noisy during construction? 

We will undertake a noise assessment as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment and put forward mitigation measures to minimise any noise generated throughout construction.

How much parking will be available for residents and staff?

A total of 195 parking spaces are currently proposed for the development; 28 of these are surface spaces and 167 have been hidden within covered underground car parks.

Parking spaces will be allocated to residents of the 159 apartments on an annual licence therefore, as a minimum, there will be 36 spaces reserved for staff, visitors and the taxi fleet. The highest number of staff spaces required at any one time has been assessed to be 25.

Spaces will revert to the operator for reallocation when a resident does not want to reserve a parking space, for example, if they no longer drive or own a vehicle, or are confident to rely upon the taxi fleet and community transport provided.

Experience from other care villages suggests that as the village ages, 30 to 50% fewer parking spaces are required by residents, for the reasons above.

Employment

How many jobs will be created by the development?

The proposed development will generate over 100 new jobs for local people, as well as construction jobs, and it will support local businesses during both the construction phase and supply chain once the centre is open. Unlike many jobs in Torquay that support the tourist industry, the village will provide year-round employment. Most of the village’s employees will be from Torquay or the surrounding area, and we will need to recruit to a whole range of skill-sets: from registered mental health nurses to chefs, administration staff to gardeners and drivers and so on. 

Isn’t there a shortage of care workers?

Retirement villages like this relieve the pressure on adult social care and NHS services as they reduce ‘hospital bed blocking’ and provide on-site carers who do not have to travel between individual family homes. 

We will provide a high-quality living and working environment, where staff enjoy working and are able to positively influence people’s ongoing mobility and health. 

As a responsible employer that runs successful, well-staffed retirement villages in other locations, we aim to provide attractive employment opportunities for local people.  

How will the facility support the local economy?

We estimate the facility will benefit the local area’s economy by around £1.7m per annum in wages alone. It will also support local businesses during both the construction phase and supply chain once the centre is open resulting in over £160,000 in additional business to local suppliers each year. This does not include the estimated £1.3m that the residents of Sladnor Park would contribute to the local economy each year through spending on shopping, entertainment and suchlike.  

The development also supports the draft 2017-2022 Torbay Economic Strategy, which aims to create more than 2,000 jobs in Torbay. 

Finally, there is also a wider benefit in terms of the current housing shortage. We estimate that the facility will release at least 75 large family houses and up to 40 other types of family accommodation back onto the housing market. 

Wildlife and Environment

What are you doing to protect Sladnor Park’s wildlife?

An assessment of the facility’s impact on the area’s wildlife has been undertaken as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment, which will be taken into account by the council when it assesses whether to grant planning permission. Due to the level of high protection afforded to South Hams SAC, we will have to demonstrate that there will be no ‘likely significant effect’ on the area in order for a planning consent to be approved. 

Detailed ecological surveys have been undertaken in accordance with relevant local and national planning policy, legislation and current best practice including:

  • Data searches through the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre and Devon Bat Group
  • Phase 1 habitat survey
  • Detailed botanical survey (grassland)
  • Invertebrate survey
  • Reptile survey
  • Bird surveys, specifically cirl bunting
  • Bat surveys (following Natural England South Hams SAC greater horseshoe bat consultation zone planning guidance)
  • Hazel dormouse surveys
  • Badger surveys

In addition to these surveys, we are also consulting with Natural England and the RSPB and EAD Ecology are providing advice to ensure that all other pre-application surveys and ongoing site management complies with relevant legislation. Specific measures include:

  • Retention and buffering of the identified bat roosts and associated bat flight routes.
  • Design and implementation of a lighting scheme to ensure dark corridors will be retained. 
  • Create native tree, shrub and wildflower meadow habitats as part of the landscape scheme.
  • Implementation of a construction ecological management plan to ensure that retained habitats, bats, badgers, reptiles and nesting birds (including cirl buntings) will not be harmed during site clearance and construction.
  • Enhancement of retained habitats through the implementation of a long-term ecological management plan to include woodland management and cattle grazing on retained grassland. This will benefit a range of species in particular greater horseshoe bat, lesser horseshoe bat and cirl bunting.
  • Provision of a range of nest boxes to provide opportunities for birds, bats and invertebrates within the site.

The site will be managed by an environmentally responsible company that is committed to proactive, sensitive environmental management. The estate will have a 25-year management plan the freehold will be retained by the operating company and there will be restrictive covenants in order to maintain the ecology.

There are colonies of rare greater and lesser horseshoe bats living on Sladnor Park, which are protected by EU law. How are you going to protect them?

During 2016 and 2017, a series of bat surveys were undertaken. The surveys identified typical bat activity for a site in South Devon, including low numbers of greater horseshoe bats foraging/commuting along vegetated boundaries. 

The team are working closely with ecologists to prepare an appropriate mitigation strategy for the proposed development. Whilst the development plans are not currently finalised, it is anticipated that the roosts will be retained and protected within the development with appropriate dark corridors established to maintain suitable access to the roosts and continued connectivity of flight routes through the site. Enhancements would likely include woodland management to create an open canopy and potentially cattle grazing on retained pasture within the site to improve the foraging value of the grassland. Consultation with Natural England has been undertaken in relation to the survey, mitigation and assessment of potential impacts on the South Hams SAC. 

The design of the development has been greatly influenced by the bat roosts within the site and the ‘strategic flyway’ (the bat flight path) associated with the South Hams SAC.  Following detailed survey work, measures have been designed to avoid, mitigate and compensate for impacts on bats, including:

  • Development design/layout to ensure that the bat roosts are retained and buffered (20m) from all built development.
  • Design to maintain dark flyways suitable for commuting greater horseshoe bats through the site with links to the roost within the site and across the wider site. Development of flyways has included:
    • Identification of bat activity patterns and flyways through detailed survey.
    • Detailed lighting assessment, that considers both external lighting and light spill from buildings, to ensure that flyway proposals are based on quantifiable and justifiable evidence. 
    • Repositioning and orientation of buildings to create sufficient distance from woodland edges.
    • Removal of windows to prevent light spill from those building elevations that face the proposed flyways.
    • Elevating flyways above recessed parking bays to avoid light spill from road level lighting.
    • Habitat creation along flyways with shrubs, trees and wildflower grassland to ensure habitat conditions are attractive to bats.
    • Use of screening between flyways and development to prevent light spill.
    • Use of external automated shutters to prevent light spill during key night-time periods.
  • A purpose-built bat roost building suitable for greater and lesser horseshoe bats in close proximity to the existing roosts to enhance the available roosting opportunities within the site.
  • A construction ecological mitigation plan to ensure construction does not affect bats. Measures include:
    • Secure fencing around the roost to prevent accidental construction damage.
    • Sound and dust insulation around bat roosts (where necessary).
    • Timing of sensitive works where necessary (e.g. vibration and piling) in proximity to the bat roosts to avoid disturbance of roosting bats.
    • Avoidance of construction lighting in key areas.
  • An ecological management plan for long-term management of habitats, including:
    • Woodland management to enhance existing woodland for lesser horseshoe bats.
    • Grassland management to include organic cattle grazing on retained areas of grassland to enhance foraging areas for greater horseshoe bat. (Preliminary discussions have been undertaken with Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust to deliver grazing.)
  • Monitoring of bat activity and lighting along flyways to ensure proposed dark corridors are implemented as proposed.

What about badgers, roe deer and other wildlife?

Where necessary, appropriate mitigation measures will be specified and implemented. This is likely to include:

  • Reptile translocation prior to development to prevent killing or injury of slow worms during site clearance.
  • Timing of works to avoid impacts on nesting birds (including cirl bunting)
  • Habitat creation and management to provide appropriate habitat for cirl bunting.
  • Although the development is unlikely to affect any main badger setts, a post-consent licence from Natural England will be sought if any badger setts are going to be affected. 

What about badger vaccination and TB? How will you manage this if you are grazing cattle on site?

Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust already have cattle around Maidencombe and they are aware of the badgers’ locations so this would form part of their management plan.

Are you going to remove trees and hedgerows?

No significant trees will be felled to accommodate the proposed buildings and woodland management (ongoing and future) will result in a positive impact to both trees and hedgerows.  

Environmental Impact Assessment

What is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)? 

This is an assessment of any likely significant effects that the facility could have on the environment. If the potential effects are unacceptable, changes to design or other mitigation measures must be taken to avoid, reduce or offset the effects. The EIA considers all potential effects on the human and natural environment, in the studies listed below. Their findings are presented in an Environmental Statement (ES) together with a non-technical summary. The ES is taken into account by the local planning authority when deciding whether or not to give consent for the development. EIA topics studied comprise: 

  • Landscape and visual impact
  • Archaeology and cultural heritage 
  • Traffic
  • Ecology and nature conservation 
  • Flood risk, hydrology and drainage 
  • Geology and ground conditions 
  • Air quality and odour 
  • Noise and vibration

Who is conducting the EIA? 

An independent company, Pegasus Group, is conducting the EIA. Pegasus is highly regarded in its sector, is very experienced in conducting EIAs and has a strong professional reputation to maintain. Furthermore, its work is open to scrutiny by competitors and other independent assessors. The planning authority (including its own team of environmental experts) will scrutinise the findings when considering the planning application. 

Consultation and Planning Process

Can the proposal change after planning permission has been granted? 

If granted, planning permission will define what English Care Villages has consent to build. Some minor changes that stay within the envelope of the consented design may be permissible by the planning authority. Any significant changes would require an application to vary the consent, which is treated in much the same way as a new planning application.

How will the neighbourhood plan be taken into account?

When adopted, the Neighbourhood Plan will form part of the Development Plan for Torbay. In accordance with national planning legislation, the planning application will show how the proposed development accords with the Development Plan. The application will also demonstrate how the benefits of the proposal will outweigh any harm that may result from the proposals.

If consented, when will the new facility open?

We expect to submit our planning application around April 2018. If planning consent is granted, we hope to start construction 18 months later and that it will take around two years to build the facility.