80 villagers oppose controversial plan to build war memorial


More than 80 residents are fighting controversial plans to build a house on war memorial land in their village. The Percy William Ratcliff Cottages Trust has applied to build on the gardens of the four Sunnyside Almshouses in Newton Solney – and it is understood the land has now been bought for the development by a mystery buyer.

The houses, at the junction of Main Street and Church Lane, were built to house the poor and elderly of the village in the aftermath of the Second World War and are dedicated as an official war memorial. However, a private buyer has now offered to finance a two-bedroom detached house on the site’s extensive gardens.

The application submitted to South Derbyshire District Council drew more than 80 objections, including from Newton Solney Parish Council. However, it has been recommended for approval by the authority’s planning officials, who will decide whether or not to give it the green light tomorrow May 3.

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One objector, Karen Makin Wall, said: “These people [in the existing almshouses] are old and vulnerable. Some will look out of their bedroom window and see the perimeter wall instead of their garden. It’s a nice little spot.

“The whole garden has been given to residents. If this goes ahead, they will have to rename it Darkside instead of Sunnyside. Residents are now eagerly waiting to see what happens.”

She added that some of the six parking spaces offered had been reserved for existing residents, but they were not driving. Other objectors will impact the character of the area and the wildlife. They also claim that the application does not demonstrate a housing need.

According to the trust’s plans, the buyer would live there “for the foreseeable future”, but the detached two-bed bungalow would eventually be converted into two new hospices.

The mystery shopper, who made an ‘extremely generous’ donation to the trust, is in his 60s and has a direct relative living in the village, a report to the council’s planning committee revealed. The trust also added that the money would be a “huge benefit” to ensure the trust’s longevity as it could not afford to build additional property for itself.

Sunnyside Almshouses, Newton Solney.

The original trust was established on January 1, 1951 and was designed to provide housing for the poor who have resided in the parish of Newton Solney for at least five years. Over the years different people have lived in the bungalows. Since then, there have been no significant bequests to the trust and it is unlikely there will be any in the immediate future, the trust has previously said.

The council’s conservation officer said in the report that overall the building would sit comfortably next to its existing neighbours. The officer also added: “Furthermore, the presence of two sets of almshouses nearby, despite their different style, adds to the character of the conservation area and tells a story of ongoing local philanthropy that the proposal , in the longer term, represent a continuation of the property would be given to the hospices trust and would eventually be available to provide additional accommodation for the trust to use.

The council’s planning officers concluded in their report: “While the loss of open space to the front of the existing Sunnyside bungalows and holly is regrettable, these points are considered to be outweighed by the benefits of providing a additional bungalow for long-term use by the trust and also to secure the long-term future of the charitable trust.

“This is in the context of applying an appropriate mechanism to secure the long-term benefits of providing an additional bungalow proposed by the applicant and the ability to obtain a landscaping plan that will mitigate the loss of the holly.”

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