A KNUTSFORD Town Council committee has declined to oppose plans to demolish the former War Memorial Cottage Hospital after deciding there was no basis for objection on planning grounds.

McCarthy and Stone has applied for permission to knock down Memorial House in Northwich Road, building in its place a block of up to 46 ‘retirement living’ flats.

The town’s planning committee met on Monday to debate the issue, and voted in favour of lodging no objection, but asking for ‘significant’ financial contributions towards medical and transport provision in Knutsford.

A proposal by Cllr Andrew Malloy to object to the plans on heritage grounds was seconded by town mayor Cllr Neil Forbes, but voted down by committee members.

Cllr Malloy’s proposal also raised the issue of an article four direction, which was placed on the building last year, meaning it cannot be demolished without planning permission.

Committee chairman Cllr Stewart Gardiner pointed out that it does not enjoy the same safeguarding as listed buildings.

In turn, Cllr Tony Dean’s proposal to raise no objection but ask for financial contributions was passed.

Cllr Dean said: “There are some legal arguments about whether or not the British Red Cross had ownership. Leaving that to one side, I am looking at this as a planning application.

"If this building has not been used as a hospital for a long time, to have it as McCarthy and Stone retirement living housing is an excellent use for this site.”

The meeting was well attended, and five of the public present spoke against the application.

Charlotte Peters Rock spoke on behalf of the unconstituted Knutsford and District War Memorial Neighbourhood Forum, raising concerns about overdevelopment and arguing the land belonged to the people of Knutsford and the surrounding villages.

She said: “Knutsford War Memorial was built to commemorate the tragic deaths of sons of this area during the Great War [and in] national service to this country. I believe it still belongs to the community and now needs to be returned under a suitable community trust.”

Debbie Jamison said there had been no attempt by developers to retain the existing building.

The response will help inform CEC’s final decision. Comments can be made by February 15 at planning.cheshireeast.gov.uk

KTC cannot approve or reject planning applications.