A proposal to build a 66-bed care home on land at Poorhole Lane has provoked objections that remaining woodland at the site will be destroyed.
Development of 153 modular homes at the Westwood Lodge site was approved in May 2021. An initial proposal for the site had been rejected by Thanet council in August 2015 but was approved on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate in February 2017.
However, former developer applicant Places For People Homes Ltd pulled out of the scheme and in 2020 Rooksmead Residential Ltd agreed terms with L&G Modular Homes on a revised set of proposals.
Several protests were held at the site in 2020 by the Thanet Tress group.
L&G Modular Homes made a series of amendments including moving new builds further away from the existing buildings and retaining more of the trees onsite. There have also been added habitat and biodiversity features as part of a ten year woodland plan.
The Grade II listed main house of Westwood Lodge, built in 1864, the 17th Century cottage and the gate piers remain intact on the site.
An extra 2.89ha of woodland has been retained compared to the first proposal, wildlife corridors, wildflower areas, hedgehog highways, a pond and swift, hedgehog and bat boxes are also included.
Plans included the planting of 8,500 new trees and new woodland walks, a landscaped communal garden and green corridors through the development.
But now Rooksmead Residential has made an application to build the three storey care home at the Westwood Acres site in the area currently used as a commercial facility storing machinery and site offices for the construction of the remaining phases of the adjacent development.
Planning documents say the aim is to: “Create a high-quality designed development that respects its location and surroundings and will be an improvement to the existing modern piggery building and an improvement to the street frontage.
“Position the building in the south eastern corner, away from the historical driveway, locating it close to Poorhole Road that is already within a heavily urbanised/commercial area.
“Minimize the impact from the road, historical driveway, and The Cottage by utilising the existing single entrance point and retaining/strengthening existing boundary vegetation. This softens the proposed building into the surrounding this reducing the impact on its setting.
“The proposed development for the care home would utilise the new entrance and access road created for the residential housing adjacent to the eastern boundary. The original route from the gate piers, adjacent to the north western corner, would be preserved as will the line of trees.”
Objections to the plans include the loss of remaining woodland at the site.
One representation against the plans says: “This would further destroy the already little remaining woodland we have left from the Westwood Acres estate being built.
“Wildlife has already suffered from the woodland being drastically reduced for these homes without the further care home then being built.
“Traffic coming into/ around the Westwood Acres estate is already very bad, little to no parking on the Poorhole Lane road. This is a terrible idea, not to mention an eyesore the community who live on the Westwood Acres estate.”
Another says: “There are already not enough facilities in the area such as doctor surgeries and issues with utilities such as water and electricity supply due to high demand.
“Until appropriate upgrades to utilities/ facilities are made it’s not appropriate to keep building and put strain on the system. Also this is a busy road (Ramsgate Road/Poorhole Lane) without appropriate crossing facilities/parking which will only get busier more congested with cars attending the care home if built.”
A decision on the outline application is yet to be made. It can be viewed on Thanet council’s planning portal, reference OL/TH/23/0988.
Westwood Lodge history
Westwood Lodge was built in 1864 as a holiday retreat for Spencer Herepath, a Kensington stockbroker whose firm specialised in South American Railway securities.
The architect is not at present known but there is speculation that it could have been Henry Winnock Hayward (1825-1893) who had built houses of a similar style in Phillimore Place, Kensington near Herepath’s London residence.
Herepath’s daughter Marion married Linley Sambourne, the celebrated Punch illustrator, in 1874. After Spencer Herepath died in 1884, Mrs Herepath lived there until the property was sold in 1893.
The next owner was Harry Rickards (1841-1911), a celebrated music hall artist who became a music hall impresario in both England and Australia. This was his English estate. By 1911 he was considered probably the largest single-handed music hall manager and proprietor in the world. Subsequent owners were the Farrell family. The property has been in continuous ownership by one family from 1948 until the present day. From 1929 the estate was used for farming and market gardening.
The entrance piers, gates and wall to Westwood Lodge were built circa 1865 in Gothic style.
The 17th century flint cottage is possibly listed as no 599 on sheet 2 of the Tithe Apportionment of 1838 for St Peter’s and Broadstairs, a house and garden owned and occupied by Mary Packer, connected with three arable fields. After 1865 it came into the same ownership as Westwood Lodge.