PLANS for retirement accommodation in York will go before a planning inspector as the developer and care home provider behind the scheme battle for approval.

McCarthy Stone and Henry Boot Developments seek to build the care accommodation, including 70 apartments and decked car park, on the car park area of the Chocolate Works in Bishopthorpe Road.

The application is currently the subject of a planning appeal, due to City of York Council not determining the scheme.

The planning inspectorate is due to stage an inquiry starting on April 26, something it expects will take five days.

A report by planning inspector Ken Taylor, who will be conducting the inquiry, says issues affecting the application include its impact on the character of the local area, local healthcare services, the planning classification of the accommodation, which may lead to a need for affordable housing as part of a planning agreement.

When earlier plans were submitted residents and Councillor Jonny Crawshaw expressed concerns over the impact of the scheme, including the extra traffic it may generate.

The plans seek to build a scheme aimed typically at those aged over 80 “with the aim of maintaining their independence via a wide range of communal facilities and care packages tailored to their individual needs as frailty increases through later life”.

The application says: “This is a very specialised form of ‘Extra Care’ accommodation, that is currently limited within York.”

Such specialist housing would meet local and national planning policies, it continued, and by providing such support to the frail elderly in a car park setting, help prevent new build housing on greenfield land.

“It provides residents with safety, support, security and companionship and removes the heavy burden of property maintenance.“

Such housing also generates little traffic, it continued, as the occupants “generally no longer need or wish to have the ‘burden’ of car ownership.”

The specialist facilities would include a wheelchair accessible residents’ lounge, secure entrance lobby with CCTV link to individual apartments, safe/accessible footpaths links in and around the development, bistro, internal refuse room, laundry rooms, a battery scooter charging room, guest suite, emergency helpline within each apartment and communal areas.

The application continued: “These benefits reduce the demands placed on health and social services and other care facilities – not only in terms of better health, well-being and peace of mind, but also, of course, insofar as doctors, chiropodists, physiotherapists, community nurses, hairdressers etc.” The application says York expects the need for such accommodation to increase.

“Those experiencing difficulty with at least one task of self-care are projected to rise from 11,380 in 2020 to 15,207 in 2040. This may contribute to additional demand for specialised accommodation and will have a direct impact on demand for care home places,” it added.