Fourth ‘rehab’ centre plan deferral leaves council ‘open’ to legal challenge
A council’s legal officer said deferring plans to revamp a controversial “rehab facility” in Rhyl leaves the authority open to a “real risk” of legal challenge.
It is the fourth time plans submitted for the former care home at Sandy Lodge on Dyserth Road in the town have been deferred by Denbighshire council’s planning committee.
Despite councillors conducting a site visit this week, granted after plans were deferred at last month’s meeting, Cllr Brian Jones again brought up a motion to suspend hearing the application.
He said a resident living behind the development said he had not been notified of the plans, despite three earlier deferrals being reported in the press, the existence of a Facebook campaign group numbering more than 600 members and a letter having been sent to his address.
Planning officer Paul Mead confirmed the man had been sent a letter about the scheme but he could not guarantee whether he had received it.
However he said his objections to “over intensification” of the development are all covered in the planning report.
Tim Dillon, the authority’s legal officer, deferring the application once more could be costly for the council.
He said: “There’s now a very real risk if (deferral) was decided we would be open to challenge for non-determination and there would be an application for costs.
“The resident has already been sent correspondence and the tangible issues is about over intensification.
“Given the circumstances there’s a real risk there would be an appeal on those grounds of non-determination and a very reasonable risk of costs for unreasonable conduct.”
Despite the legal warning councillors on the committee voted 12-6 to defer the application for a fourth time.
The application to extend and upgrade the former Sandy Lodge Nursing Home on Dyserth Road in the town forms part of a plan to change its use to a “rehab facility”.
The owner, Medirose Healthcare, has every right to change the type of resident it caters for because it doesn’t constitute a change of use under planning law.
However, many residents don’t want it in the middle of a residential area and local councillors have been stalling the planning process on their behalf.
A protest group, SLOG – Sandy Lodge Opposition Group Dyserth Rd 2021, has more than 600 followers on Facebook.
It’s not the first time Cllr Jones has clashed with the authority’s planning department over the matter.
In May he accused planners of showing a “lack of respect” to councillors, after he claimed “no officer had the common decency to speak to the local members” about the Sandy Lodge application in the month after it was first deferred.
By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter
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