PLANS to knock down an empty care home have been given the go-ahead – despite calls for the building to be re-developed.

A planning application lodged by Cumbria County Council to demolish the former Brackenthwaite care home on Senhouse Street in Whitehaven was approved last week.

Councillor Brian O'Kane has branded the decision “disgraceful”, after previously suggesting the site may be suitable for use as student accommodation for the growing number of medical students at Westlakes Science Park.

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 approved by the county council’s development, control and regulation committee.

Cllr O’Kane, who represents Whitehaven Central North on Whitehaven Town Council and Hillcrest on Copeland Council, said: “The county council have given themselves the permission to knock a building down in Whitehaven without any consultation with the town.

“The town council have fully objected to it being knocked down. At the moment, nothing has come back from them, except their decision to knock it down, which is disgraceful.

“Local democracy being completely ignored. I think it’s an absolute disgrace that there’s no dialogue at all.

“The new home has 60 places but that doesn’t fulfil the need for all the homes that were closed and for all the day centres that closed.”

County councillor Graham Roberts, who has previously called for the building to be used as extra-care housing for the elderly, said the building was no longer fit for purpose.

He said: “It doesn’t meet modern day spec at all. We have got to draw a line in the sand. It isn’t the future. We have got to move on now.

“There’s a massive drop in the number of people wanting adult social care from the county council because there are other suppliers on the market who can do the job cheaper.”

A spokesperson for Cumbria County Council said the building is not suitable for use as extra-care housing in its current form but there are plans to enter conversations with housing providers following the demolition to determine what interest there is for extra-care housing.

READ MORE: Former Brackenthwaite care home in Whitehaven to be demolished despite calls for it to be redeveloped