A STOURBRIDGE entrepreneur’s vision of seeing a run-down town gateway transformed into a brand new care home for the elderly is a step closer to becoming reality.

Businessman Jim Driscoll MBE, creator of children’s TV show The Shoe People, has been in talks with planners, project managers and developers for the last few years in a bid to see the site of his old Storm Group studios turned into a state-of-the-art residential care facility.

Mr Driscoll, who owns the 1.5-acre site - which was previously home to Stourbridge Labour Club and the YWCA, is now all set to finalise a deal with luxury care home developers The Cinnamon Care Collection which has submitted a planning application for a multi-million pound 80-bed care complex to Dudley Council.

He said: "It's a nice scheme. It's just what that site and the area needs. I'm really excited."

Mr Driscoll, who moved from Stourbridge to Chaddesley Corbett a few years ago, said he wanted the site - which was flattened around six or seven years ago - to be devoted to a care facility.

He told the News: "I wanted to keep it as care. I've had lots of people come to me - a hotel chain, Lidl, somebody even came who wanted to put a pub on there but I just felt the area needed care. It's so badly needed. We're really, really short of care homes in the Stourbridge area and Cinnamon have certainly showed they're committed to this."

Mr Driscoll originally envisioned a combined care facility/apartment complex for the elderly, with a Mediterranean-style appearance with balconies and roof top gardens, but he said: "The new design is more suitable to meet the current care needs of the demographic and fits the topography of the site much better.

"I know from experience there are local people requiring care for their elderly relatives and unable to find suitable accommodation in our area.

"They have to move their loved ones out of the area, away from friends and relatives - causing great stress for all concerned.

"This new badly-needed facility will literally be on their doorstep and it's very close to the town centre and local parks."

He said the development, which will be three to four storeys high, will "make the whole area look good" and he added: "I think the building's fantastic."

Stourbridge councillor Nic Barlow, Dudley's cabinet member for adult social care, is among those supporting the scheme - having visited a similar Cinnamon Care facility in Bromsgrove.

He said: "The proposed Hagley Road development will not only significantly enhance the location but bring in employment to the Stourbridge area as well as fill a much-needed gap in existing care facilities within the Dudley borough."

He added: “For our older people it’s a really exciting and welcome development. It’s something that’s different to models in the immediate area.

“We need to see more of these types of facilities where the land allows.

"It’s more independent living than just going into a retirement flat or home - you’ve got more support there.”

He said the facility would enable elderly people to “live their lives as independently as possible” and avoid the need for people to move out of the area, and he added: “It’s on a bus route and in walking distance of the town centre; these are all the sorts of things people look for in moving to these types of places.”

He added: “It’s an area that’s long overdue for redevelopment; that site has been an absolute eyesore for a number of years so any development is welcome.

“It also indicates Stourbridge is open for business and very keen to engage with developers.”