Posted: 28.10.20 at 13:06 by The Editor
COUNCILLORS have given the go-ahead for a new residential care home to replace the Beechmere complex gutted in a fire last year.
Architects told Cheshire East's southern planning committee today that the project would be completed "as soon as possible" so that residents left homeless by the former building's destruction could be moved back into the Crewe residential home.
They also said a sprinkler system is to be installed at the new home and gave assurances over fire safety after extensive discussions with Cheshire Fire Authority and the council's building control officers over the building's design.
Fire tore through the previous timber-clad property forcing the evacuation of 150 elderly and disabled residents in August last year.
They were rehoused, some in temporary accommodation, and many would like to move back to the Rolls Avenue site where owners Avantage (Cheshire) have been given planning permission for a new 132-apartment replacement home on the footprint of the former complex.
Crewe councillors welcomed the rebuild, but stressed highways improvements will be needed outside the new home to make it easier for infirm residents to get out and about. While there was also a call for housing chiefs to communicate better with the residents over the rebuild.
Cllr Laura Smith said pavements and access will need to be a "key focus" for the layout to prevent elderly people hurting themselves.
"Many of the residents want to move back as soon as possible, but some of them do feel they are in the dark and I would ask for more to be done to communicate with them," said Cllr Smith.
"This (the rebuild) has got to happen as a lot of the residents will have been impacted by Covid and feel isolated after losing their homes. We want to make sure that when they do move back in that they can access the facilities around and highways [officers] need to act on this as we know before that the pavements were not up to scratch."
Project architect Nigel Murray says the new complex will be an improvement on the former building and will prove to be a "more modern addition" to the local area.
"We have integrated a sprinkler system and we have had a lot of engagement with building control and the fire authority going through the design.
"There's a lot of masonry construction in the building. All the party walls are masonry, the floors are masonry and there is a concrete deck on the first floor."
Project Manager Grant Robinson added: "We have listened to the residents and taken the lessons of the fire. We feel we have a much better building and we are looking to get it done as quickly as possible."
Much of the original home has been incorporated in the new design with facilities including a restaurant, village hall, library, fitness suite and hobby room, while a communal garden area has been schemed in.
Cheshire East's housing chiefs say there is a need for extra care accommodation in Crewe.
Nearly three quarters of the new apartments are to be provided as affordable housing, including shared ownership units) and 75 rented homes.
Cllr Hazel Faddes said: "The devastating fire highlighted the shortage of suitable safe and secure accommodation which caters for the needs of the older generation."
The former building was demolished and the site cleared over the summer.