NORTON councillors say they have been left “horrified” that a controversial plan to demolish a landmark pub and replace it with a large care home has now gone through on appeal.

Dudley Council’s planning committee had turned down a proposal by Frontier Estates to bulldoze The Greyhound pub on Norton Road and replace it with a 55-bed care facility last July after hundreds of people objected – branding the scheme “totally out of character for the area”.

But the Government’s Planning Inspectorate in Bristol has now overturned the decision after an appeal was submitted in January.

Planning inspector Bhupinder Thandi gave the go-ahead for the scheme after visiting the site on March 8, and he said in his report that he did not think the development would “undermine the character and appearance of the area”.

Stourbridge News: CGI of the proposed care home. Pic - Gillings PlanningCGI of the proposed care home. Pic - Gillings Planning

He described the pub site as a “generous plot” and said he did not think the development would appear “unduly bulky or dominant”. He also dismissed the many concerns raised by neighbours about possible parking and traffic problems and the impact on nearby streets.

Norton councillor Karen Shakespeare, however, said: “All three local councillors for Norton and many residents objected to this development for a huge string of reasons, this location is just totally wrong for this dominant development.

“I also spoke out at the planning committee opposing this development and the committee listened and rejected the application.

“We are all horrified that the applicant appealed the decision and took it to the Planning Inspectorate and they overturned the democratic decision of Dudley Council which was based on local circumstances not national policy.

“The loss of the Greyhound pub will also be a sad day for the local community.”

Stourbridge News: The Greyhound pub in Norton Road. Pic - Google Street ViewThe Greyhound pub in Norton Road. Pic - Google Street View

The planning inspector said the pub was no longer viable and that the scheme would “meet the housing needs of older people”.

Speaking after the decision was made on May 6, Laura Grimason of Gillings Planning – acting for Frontier Estates - said: “We’re really pleased with the recent decision by the Planning Inspectorate to allow the appeal for a 55-bedroom care home on this site.

“As noted by the inspector in the appeal decision, the provision of a care home on this site would make a significant contribution to meeting a need for specialist housing for the elderly.

“We look forward to progressing matters in order to respond to an identified need and to provide a better choice of future proofed accommodation for the elderly of Stourbridge.”

Newly-elected Norton councillor Tony Creed, who lives in Greyhound Lane, said of the scheme: “As a local resident I am fully aware of the problems this development will now cause, I will now be working with my colleagues and local residents to look at what can be done to address parking concerns and any other areas that we can influence to mitigate the impact of this building.”

Norton Road resident Bridget Woolfenden, who strongly opposed the plan, said she didn’t think it was fair that someone based “84 miles away should override our own council or the police” and she added: “I just feel so sorry for the Hungerford Road residents who are going to have this overlooking their gardens.”

The developers say the home will be run by Barchester Healthcare and it will provide much-needed nursing and dementia care.