AN EMPTY care home looks set to be knocked down, despite calls for it to be turned into accommodation for the elderly, refugees or medical students.

A planning application has been lodged by Cumbria County Council to demolish the former Brackenthwaite care home on Senhouse Street in Whitehaven.

The town centre building has stood empty since 2019 when Cumbria County Council opened The Gables - a multimillion pound facility which replaced Castle Mount, Pow Beck House, Dentholme and Brackenthwaite care homes.

The county council says it does not have an alternative use for the old Brackenthwaite building, in the plans which have been submitted to Copeland Council for approval.

But county councillor Graham Roberts had pushed for the building to be transformed into extra-care housing for the elderly and more recently, suggested it could be offered as accommodation for Ukranian refugees.

However, Cllr Roberts was told by a senior manager at Cumbria County Council that the authority had received lots of similar suggestions but was "not in a position to use the property" and funding was not available to ensure the building was "of a suitable standard".

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The plans say that the building "now represents a health and safety issue as it is a potential target for vandalism" and is currently being occupied by guardians acting as security until it is demolished.

Cllr Roberts said: "Every public building has a shelf life. This building now has come to the end of its shelf life. The land has more value than the actual building.

"I would have liked it to be extra care housing. I have been pushing hard for that but it depends if you can get the right partner to do that.

"Care homes have got to be single-story. That's why The Gables is single-story. The rooms aren't big enough and aren't en-suite. These old care homes don't meet that specification.

"It's a shame that it's got to go but modern day standards determine it's out of sync with the rest of society now. I would have liked it to have been used as accommodation for the Ukranian refugees. I think it would have been a good idea."

Brian O'Kane, who represents Whitehaven Central North on Whitehaven Town Council and Hillcrest on Copeland Council, suggested the site may be suitable for use as student accommodation for the growing number of medical students at Westlakes Science Park.

He said: "I just hope that the county council have plans for the home, rather than knocking it down and leaving it to degenerate over a period of time, in such a crucial position within the town centre."

"I was just hoping they have already got the intention of trying to contact local companies and organisations to see if they have any intention of utilising a block that is potentially so useful in providing accommodation."

He went on to say: "I wondered if there had been any work done with the medical school at Westlakes, regarding student accommodation requirements, that appear to be growing in the area."

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