The developers hoped to build apartments on the site of the Shotley Park care home
Durham County Councilman Alex Watson said developers had hoped to build 12 luxury homes on the site of the former mansion at Shotley Bridge, near Consett.
He said plans for the 13-acre Shotley Park Residential Home site had been finalized but discussions with community officials “didn’t get past the pre-planning stage.”
READ ALSO: Elderly residents and staff ‘devastated’ at shock County Durham care home closure
The home’s owners have now notified 38 residents and 63 staff that the facility, a Grade II listed building, will close mid-next month.
Councilor Watson said: “They were looking for a new development in the park area that would have helped to preserve the residential centre.
“They worked out plans, but never got in and it didn’t work out.
“I’ve seen some of the plans and we’ve talked about what’s needed. They were tastefully built.
“It was about pre-planning talks. It has come to this.”
The sandstone building was built in the mid-19th century by Jonathan Richardson, founder of Shotley Bridge Spa, and sold in 1871 to the wealthy Priestman family of industrialists who were sinking coal mines in the area.
It was gifted to Barnardo’s in the 1950s before Shotley Park Care Homes took over the building in 1987 and expanded the nursing home in 2006.
But now families have to find new homes for elderly residents, some with dementia and others who have lived there for many years.
This also means that 63 employees, including nurses, cooks and cleaners, have now lost their jobs.
Cllr Watson, who sits on the Project Genesis board of directors, said the organization’s lead private partner, Dysart Developments, was involved in the housing plans along with another developer.
He said he wished the nursing home was saved and was still hopeful housing could be created on the site.
He said: “It’s a vital amenity for the region. It is a great facility and it is sad that it is threatened with closure. We don’t want to lose it.
“I welcome discussions with owners because care homes are badly needed as the population ages and as people age.
“People are coming at a time when they need care and this facility will provide them with a quality of life.
“We need quality development and we need to attract investors to the region to support further investment in the region so people can see what we have.
“I want it to happen anyway. I believe this could generate enough money to keep the nursing home from closing.”
The conservation area at Shotley Bridge, one of the county’s most desirable places to live, was designated in 1975 and includes the Shotley Park site.
Councilor Steven Robinson, who represents the area on Durham County Council, said he was aware of proposals to develop part of the nursing home site.
For more quality journalism, subscribe to The Northern Echo here for £1.50 a week.
Cllr Robinson said: “I was asked if there were any objections to planning permission for a development on the site.
“They want to build on the site next to the buildings around it.”
“It’s sad that it’s closing because the average age of residents is over 80.”
Councilor Kevin Earley, who represents the Benfieldside department, said the care home’s closure must be stopped.
He said: “I am very angry on behalf of the residents and staff.
“My own mother was at Shotley Park for the last seven or eight weeks of her life last year and I have nothing but praise for the care she was given during these difficult times.
“I have been told that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find quality care places here in Consett and this Government must deliver on what it promised when it came to regulating social care: perhaps less profit and more care would be the best place to start.
“These are real people whose lives are being turned upside down by this current system.”
Shotley Part Homes for the Elderly said the closure was due to rising operating costs, such as fuel and food prices, amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, said: “It is vital to ensure that people in old age receive the care they need, which is why Council and Government have prioritized funding in this area.”
“It’s always sad that companies make decisions like these – especially for long-time employees and residents.
“Fortunately, there is real demand in our area for the fantastic care skills of these staff and the capacity of our local care sector to accommodate and care for residents well into their twilight years.”
https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/23531816.developers-hoped-build-housing-shotley-park-care-home-site/?ref=rss The developers hoped to build apartments on the site of the Shotley Park care home