A FORMER care home in Winchester could be turned into almshouses if plans are approved by the city council.

Moorside, in Durngate, was a care home which specialised in dementia patients before it closed last September.

Its operator St John’s Winchester was unable to support its high operating costs.

St John's chief executive Clive Cook has submitted a planning application to convert the building into 18 almshouses.

The plans say that the almshouses will consist of 15 one-bed, three two-bed and a one-bed staff apartment.

Clive Cook, St John’s chief executive, said: “St John’s is now embarked on a period of expansion to further build our almshouse base and add a range of vital new services for existing residents and the older people in the wider local community”.

On the planning statement, it said: “An additional lift will be required, which will be added to an existing stair tower. The lift over run would not be any higher than the ridge line of the existing building.

“The external appearance will remain substantially the same with the exception of the rear elevation which will accommodate the new lift.

“Undercover storage for six bicycles will be provided in a purpose-built structure to the rear of the existing building.

“The use of Moorside as a nursing home providing care for those living with dementia ceased in September 2021 as it was not economically viable to continue operating. The home has always been quite heavily subsidised due to its limited capacity and the need to staff it appropriately to provide the standards of good care St John’s was committed to.

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“The board of St John’s Winchester made the decision to close the care home because to continue at the same level of subsidy with declining income would have ultimately threatened the other operations of the charity. These included the provision of registered care and welfare support to approximately 100 almshouses residents and the Hand In Hand service which since its inception in November 2018, has helped over 300 older people living in the community.”

A public comment supporting the application has been published on Winchester City Council's website. Margaret Allder, of Durngate Terrace, said: “Good to see this empty building being put back into good use.”

A comment from Winchester City Council's archaeology historic environment team said: “Given the small scale impact arising from the proposed lift, in an area previously impacted by existing structures / below ground services there is no objection on archaeological grounds and conditions are not considered to be warranted nor justified.”

If planning permission is given, the charity hopes to start work in the early summer of 2023 and complete the works within 12 months.

St John’s Winchester is one of the country's oldest charities with over nine centuries of history and years of experience supporting older people of limited means.

At the same time, St John’s hopes to become a registered provider of social housing through a subsidiary organisation, St John’s Community Housing. St John’s has applied to the Regulator for Social Housing for that purpose. This will give St John’s access to Homes England grants. If St John’s Community Housing does secure registration, the proposed development on the Moorside site would be carried out through the new organisation.

To view the plans online, search 22/01425/FUL on the city council's planning portal.

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