Richmondshire District Council officers have recommended developer Gratia’s plan to convert a vacant care home and chapel in Abbey Care Village in Scorton, near Richmond, into 23 townhouses and flats to ensure viable use term “attractive” buildings.
If approved, the redevelopment would mark the final chapter in hundreds of years of healthcare ties to the premises, which the Hospital Order announced would close as a hospital in 2002.
The order made the decision shortly after dropping its acute services amid controversy to focus on nursing care for the elderly, patients with dementia and adults with complex care needs.
The properties have not been used since 2013, when fire safety concerns arose over the care home and assisted living facility.
A report from officers at a meeting of the authority’s planning committee next Wednesday says that while Scorton Care took possession of the property in 2017, the company has failed to bring it back into use as they have thought the building was “simply too big and too old”. for the types of supported housing that are expected today”.
The report warns without action key buildings on the site originally developed in the mid-18th century as St John of God’s Hospital could otherwise deteriorate to the detriment of the Scorton Conservation Area.
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The proposal will be considered nearly two decades after the authority flatly rejected a proposal to create 77 homes on the site, in part because it would end the buildings’ long-established use for healthcare.
The nomination site includes Gwendolyn House, a major former hospital and a Catholic chapel built in 1823 for the former hospital and nearby listed former convent, St Clare’s, where nuns ran a girls’ school before moving to Darlington.
The premises were vacated by the convent of the Poor Clares in 1857 and purchased by a Cistercian priest, becoming a hospital for the elderly.
In their submission, Gratia states that many attempts have been made to try and get the building back into service, but it has now been empty for ten years.
After discussions with the council’s social services bosses, the company was told that in order for the building to continue as a care home, a prohibitively expensive works program would be required.
Ahead of the meeting, a Gratia official said the general design principles for the development were to restore and retain as many of the existing buildings of architectural interest on the site, while rejuvenating the surrounding interior and exterior space.
It says the buildings have a number of modern extensions of low architectural value which will be demolished to reveal and allow the higher quality architecture “to stand proudly on the site”.