£8.5m Hawick care home bid clears potential planning hurdle

Plans for a pioneering £8.5m care home in Hawick have cleared a potential planning hurdle despite concerns from some townsfolk about the suitability of its intended location.

Friday, 5th June 2020, 9:33 am
Councillor Clair Ramage at the site in Hawick's Guthrie Drive lined up to host an £8.5m care home.

Scottish Borders Council bosses have revealed plans for a 60-bed residential care home, accompanied by 40 extra care housing units and 12 learning disability housing units, on land south-east of Guthrie Drive at Stirches.

The complex is based on care village complexes pioneered in Holland, with part of the care home being made up of small streetscapes to remind dementia sufferers how they used to live in their own homes.

If the plans, submitted by Edinburgh firm JM Architects on the council’s behalf, are approved, that will lead to the eventual closure of the authority’s 35-bed Deanfield Care Home at Roadhead in Hawick.

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The proposed care home site in Guthrie Drive in Hawick.

This week, an initial planning application notice was deemed by council planner Scott Shearer to have met minimum statutory consultation requirements after notice of the development was sent to all Hawick councillors and Hawick Community Council.

A formal planning application will follow later in the year, depending on how the ongoing Covid-19 crisis impacts on council business.

Meanwhile, although residents living beside the proposed complex are supportive of the home being built in the town, some claim the Guthrie Drive site is the wrong location for it.

They argue that priority should be given instead to building larger, affordable family homes.

Mum-of-three Kirsty Wilson, 31, of nearby Oxnam Court, said: “I think the idea is really good – we need care facilities for the elderly – but I think the location is completely wrong.

“The area is so family-orientated, and the majority of the houses here are filled with families who in normal times use that area a lot.

“In the summer, there’s football, rounders and kids flying their kites. On summer nights, when it’s still light and warm, they are out riding their bikes and the dogs run around there.

“I think that once that facility was put in place, families would be restricted and would have to go further to access activities instead of having them at their back door.

“I’d like to see instead three and four-bedroom homes built on the site, family homes.

“When we moved here, and we’ve been here five years now, we really struggled to get an extra bedroom, and I think a lot of families struggle, so I think more family homes, because it is such a family-orientated area, would be the best way forward.”

Hawick and Denholm councillor Clair Ramage disagrees, however, and has expressed her support for the project, saying: “The proposal to build a Dutch-style care home in Stirches will create a family feel to the environment for the elderly.

“Family does not just mean mum, dad and the children. Family also means grandparents and great grandparents.

“It is important that the elderly in our society are not just placed in a home and forgotten about.

“A group from Scottish Borders Council visited a dementia care facility in Holland called Hogewey, which has proven to be so successful and is very much a part of the community.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity to do something which I don’t think has ever been done before here. It will not look like any of the care homes we currently have.

“It is also intended to include some community facilities, which could include a small shop and community hall and other small scale space for rent also open to the public.

“An architect analysed Stirches and noted a real dearth of community facilities, so these might be a corner shop, dental, hairdressing, those types of things, but in a very limited way so the scheme is fully integrated into the community.

“I realise that there is some disquiet in the Stirches community over this new facility, but with the addition of facilities that the extended community can use I think that it will bring many benefits for both young and old.”

The care home plan is a U-turn as the council had originally planned to invest £2.8m in making its 1987-built Deanfield home fit for purpose after it was found to have fallen below acceptable standards.