09:05AM, Thursday 20 July 2017
Despite vocal opposition, a new hospice at Bray Lake in Windsor Road was approved by councillors on Tuesday night.
During discussion about whether to allow the new 28-bed Thames Hospice, Cllr Phillip Bicknell (Con, Park) opened up about his personal experience of the hospice.
He told the Borough Wide Development Management Panel that his first wife died there.
“I think unless you’ve experienced what this charity does and how it goes about its business it is very difficult to be able to understand design and layout and so forth," he said.
“It is important to understand that this is the last part of somebody’s life generally, they don’t spend very long in this place in fact I think my wife was there for a couple of weeks.
“This is all about the mind and more than that it is about the families and people connected to that person.”
He was responding to concerns about the scale and design of the building, which will be 12 metres high and include internal and external gardens.
The plans include an education centre and will combine both Paul Bevan House, a day centre in Ascot and Pine Lodge in Windsor.
It was a full house at the meeting held at the Town Hall with supporters of Thames Hospice in favour and residents objecting to the proposal.
Some shouted out their objections and clapped during the meeting, causing chairman Cllr Malcolm Alexander to ask for ‘quiet please’ on more than one occasion.
Chairman of Bray Parish Council Cllr Ken Elvin spoke at the meeting to outline the parish council’s objections to the new development.
He suggested Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot, which is due to be redeveloped, as a preferable location for the new hospice.
“The new Heatherwood would have a modern GP practice on site that can serve the hospice patients rather than relying on the already busy Holyport Surgery,” he said.
Cllr Elvin finished by saying the new hospice is ‘without doubt a good thing’ but could be built in a 'more appropriate' location.
Anu Chawla, of Windsor Road, spoke on behalf of a group of residents 'strongly objecting' to the proposal, she also started a petition to keep the site as greenbelt land which was signed by more than 200 people.
“Residents are concerned there is a predisposition to allow the proposal at any cost and without regard to the wellbeing of the existing residents,” she said.
She described the development as ‘overbearing’ and said it would 'urbanise and dominate' the neighbourhood.
Concerns about the expected three per cent traffic on the already busy road was discussed extensively by councillors, but in a named vote they voted to ‘defer and delegate’ 11 to two.
This means head of planning Jenifer Jackson will negotiate, assess conditions, and approve the application.
Cllrs Malcolm Beer (Old Windsor Residents Association) and Adam Smith (Con, Riverside) voted against the proposal.
In a statement after the meeting, the hospice’s chief executive Debbie Raven said she hopes to open the doors to the new site in 2020.
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