Call to use Abbotsbury Residential Home site for much-needed Biggleswade health hub

Plans to demolish the care home have been submitted by Central Beds Council

By Euan Duncan, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 5th November 2021, 3:47 pm
Updated Friday, 5th November 2021, 3:48 pm

Plans to demolish a Biggleswade care home rated "outstanding" have been submitted by Central Bedfordshire Council.

And a Biggleswade councillor has proposed that the site be used for a much-needed health hub in the town.

Abbotsbury Residential Home at Mead End is to close once the remaining residents have been moved to new accommodation.

Plans have been submitted to demolish Abbotsbury Residential Home

It will shut as part of the local authority's programme to modernise and improve facilities for older people.

The process of moving residents to alternative homes is well underway, with the majority going to Mantles Court on London Road, according to Independent Biggleswade South councillor Hayley Whitaker in a social media post.

Councillor Whitaker said: "The proposed demolition of the care home comes hot on the heels of a similar application to demolish the registry office on the same site.

"This only leaves the adult day centre building on the London Road site, which I also expect CBC will apply to demolish at some point. The council's officially remaining tight lipped for now about its future.

"Once empty, I've proposed the 12-acre site is used to house the much-needed Biggleswade health and social care hub.

"This has been delayed for years because of problems agreeing a lease at the proposed Biggleswade Hospital location.

"Here’s hoping that putting the hub in a more sustainable location and using the London Road site to benefit the community comes before selling the land to the highest bidder for more development."

Central Beds Council started consultations on the future of the home in October 2020.

Rebuilding Abbotsbury would have involved moving the residents multiple times, so was ruled out as an option, Central Beds Council's executive was told in April.

Not-for-profit operator Quantum Care presented the council with an offer to replace the 32-place capacity at Abbotsbury by opening a new 76-bedroom care home in the town.

The planning application describes the premises to be demolished as vacant and includes "the removal of all hard standing areas".

It adds: "This is a 50-year-old building with an area of 2,730sqm. The building is no longer in use."

Giving the reason for its plans, the council said: "There's no other purpose it can be used for in its current state, as any work would have to be substantial before any remedial work could be done.

"This is because of its age and condition, and the presence of asbestos. The demolition of the building will allow for future redevelopment of the site.

"This will be subject to a separate planning application in the coming years. A specialist contractor will be involved in the process.

"Where possible all materials will be recycled. Windows and doors are to be removed before the work begins."

Abbotsbury was given an 'outstanding' rating after an inspection by the CQC in 2019.

The local authority has been reviewing the future of seven care homes which it inherited from Bedfordshire County Council in 2009.

Abbotsbury was built by the county council in the 1970s on the site of a large former Victorian workhouse.