Lancaster City Council has approved plans for a new family support centre at St John's Hospice. The decision was made at a meeting of the council’s Planning Regulatory Committee on Monday (February 1).
Committee members heard that the proposed support centre will be a two-storey building clad in timber with a flat roof, first floor terrace and balcony.
Two enclosed gardens with associated planting and landscaping were also proposed as part of the scheme, which will provide therapeutic support and counselling for children and young people aged 4 to 16 and their families who have lost parents, siblings and close relatives.
Council planning officers described the proposed centre as being a valuable facility in terms of the delivery of much-needed pre and post bereavement care. But officers were of the view that alternative locations within the site would have been more suitable for the new building, and that the proposals involved the demolition of a 19th century lodge building on the site, and hence the application had been recommended for refusal.
Councillors had regard to the problems that were identified, but they found in favour of approving the plans in a 13 to 2 vote.
Councillor Sandra Thornberry, chair of the planning committee, said: “The benefit of a bereavement centre and the benefits to the local community that it would bring were never in doubt.
“The discussion was mainly about whether this outweighed the heritage loss due to the demolition of the lodge.
“Our planning officers have a duty to follow the policies and advise us accordingly, which they quite rightly did in this case.
“However, as a committee, we are able to take a different view and believe that the benefits of having a much-needed community facility, which will allow the hospice to expand its level of care, outweigh the potential harm.”