Councillors have rejected plans for a retirement village in the grounds of Anstey Hall in Trumpington.

They refused an application to build 87 two-bedroom flats after concerns were raised by Cambridge City Council officers and by Historic England.

However, councillors said they could support the idea of some retirement homes being built, but said the current plans were “just way too far off”.

Two three-storey buildings in the grounds of the historic hall were proposed, along with an orangery, including a swimming pool and restaurant.

Anstey Hall would have provided community space on the ground floor for people living in the retirement village, with staff and short-term guest accommodation on the second floor.

The plans also included opening up the land to the public.

The grade II*-listed building is currently used as a hotel and wedding venue.

Planning officers recommended refusing the application as it would “consume a substantial portion of protected open space”.

They did not believe the benefits of the new accommodation would outweigh the harm caused. Other council officers also raised concerns, including the urban design officer and conservation officer.

Historic England objected as the new flats would “encroach” on the open space. The organisation said the plans would cause a “high level of less than substantial harm”.

There were 19 objections from members of the public, but 13 comments in support.

Applicant John de Bruyne disputed the issues raised by officers, claiming “not one was correct”, at a meeting of the city council’s planning committee on September 6.

He pointed out that the private grounds would be opened up to the public under the plans, and said “not a single tree” would be removed, although he noted that a consultant had advised that management was needed, adding there were “many dead trees”.

He said he paid for and submitted three reports looking at flooding and would be happy to accept conditions around some points, including on the renewable energy strategy.

Mr Bruyne told councillors that he had been advised by his barrister that an appeal against a refusal of the application would be “easy”.

County councillor Philippa Slatter (Lib Dem, Trumpington) said: “Anstey Hall as a retirement community will add significantly to community life as well as creating lovely new homes for older people.

“You have seen the proposals for public access to the grounds. We can see tremendous benefits for the new residents and residents of Trumpington. We would welcome them to join in local projects on their doorstep.

“If Anstey Hall is to continue to be in good repair it either evolves into a community asset shared with residents, or be yet another pretty old building converted into flats viewed through security gates.”

Many of the committee councillors said they supported the principle of retirement homes in the grounds of Anstey Hall, but said issues with the current plans meant they could not support it.

Cllr Sam Carling (Lab, West Chesterton) said: “I think there is immense potential from this application. There is very little point having heritage assets you cannot access. [However] I do have concerns about the proposal.”

He said differing information had been presented that did not “marry up”, and he would have concerns if any of the flats were going to be single aspect – meaning only one side with windows.

Cllr Katie Porrer (Lib Dem, Market, welcomed the proposal to open up the grounds to the public, but said she would “not feel comfortable approving” the current plans.

She raised concerns about not having information the committee needed, including about what cycle parking would be provided and how air source heat pumps might impact the design.

She said she hoped the applicant took on the councillors’ support for the principle of the proposals, but said the current plans were “just way too far off”.

Cllr Katie Thornburrow (Lib Dem, Market) encouraged the applicant to resubmit the plans after addressing the concerns raised.

However, Cllr Ingrid Flaubert (Lib Dem, Trumpington) suggested some of the issues could be sorted through conditions, and felt the development could address the needs of the community in Trumpington and should be supported.

Cllr Naomi Bennett (Green, Abbey) proposed that the application be deferred, but this did not receive enough support from other councillors.

Six councillors voted to refuse the plans, with one voting against this, and one councillor abstaining.

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