A car park and road will be built over Fulford parkland to accompany bungalows for the elderly – despite fears it will disturb an “oasis of peace and tranquillity”.
The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institute (RMBI) said the only way of bringing back into use ten vacant bungalows at Connaught Court was by building the car park and driveway so people could come and go easily.
Marc Nelson-Smith, property director at the RMBI, said: “Our objective is to create a small community for 20 older people, but we do not want residents becoming isolated as their mobility decreases and their care needs decrease.”
The RMBI, which runs Connaught Care care home, said it would be investing £500,000 to refurbish the empty bungalows, most of which have been empty for 15 years, for domiciliary care use.
The parkland is described as an “oasis of peace and tranquillity” in the Fulford’s conservation area appraisal.
A similar application was rejected by councillors in 2019.
Objections came from local residents and members of Fulford Parish Council, who noted that several trees would be cut down.
Parish councillor Mary Urmston said: “I believe these proposals would urbanise and spoil the beautiful park as well as harming many of its lovely trees.
“Clearly everyone would like to see these bungalows occupied but there’s no evidence that they could only be brought back into use if a car park is provided.”
Cllr Keith Aspden, a ward and parish councillor for the area, backed residents’ concerns.
Area planning sub-committee member Cllr Tony Fisher said: “The area I have real concerns about is putting a car parking area in the courtyard and the chopping down of a TPO (tree preservation order) tree.
“On that basis I cannot support this application because I think that is akin to environmental vandalism.”
Arboriculturist Guy Morrison said the new road had been designed to avoid damage to tree roots.
Mr Nelson-Smith said the bungalows would not be for sale, would be let at an affordable rent and that local people would be offered spaces.
He added: “If you were to build a scheme like this today you would require a car park, simple as that.”
Cllr Jonny Crawshaw said: “If we are talking about accommodation for elderly and potentially infirm people, you cannot have that kind of accommodation without disabled vehicle access and it can’t be 25 metres away, it needs to be to the door. It’s the only way you’ll get this type of accommodation coming back into use.”
The planning committee voted to approve the proposals.