HOSPICE staff are 'over the moon' after a much-anticipated extension was approved.

Oxford's beloved Sobell House Hospice can commence with development for its dementia-friendly garden annex and new outpatient clinic, which will help to ease pressure amid Oxfordshire's ageing population.

Plans for the centre, which sits within the Churchill Hospital centre in Headington, include a two-storey building with six palliative care bedrooms, a new lymphoedema clinic and offices.

Oxford City Council's planning committee permitted the expansion at a meeting on Monday night, noting it would be 'crazy' to object.

The charity's chief executive Diane Gardner said she was 'over the moon' that the multi-million pound plan went through.

Seven councillors voted in favour despite initial concerns about energy efficiency and the hospice's proximity to the protected Lye Valley nature reserve.

Explaining the design of the new garden to the committee, Mrs Gardner said: "The curves allow us to move wheelchairs and possibly beds into that space.

"It’s easily navigable for people feeling a little infirm, and the curves make it easy to wander around safely."

The extension will be built on top of the hospice's existing garden, and a new smaller sensory garden and indoor plant room will provide replacement green space.

Architects from Gray Baynes and Shew, which designed the extension, stressed that the new bedrooms capitalised on views of a neighbouring golf course.

Georgia Burt, a director of the company, told councillors: “Bedroom windows in the new clinic are low enough to be able to see out of from bed."

Referring to a cluster of trees in the garden, she said: “The rippling shadows of the trees on the walls will be very emotive.

“In the winter they will be lit, as it’s quite a dark spot. There will also be a beautiful magnolia tree and new sensory planting like lavender.

“Although there is reduced garden because of the nature of the plan, we have been trying to bring back quality. This building is so important to the community."

Speaking after the meeting, award-winning healthcare architect Ms Burt added: “I worked on the existing Sobell building 15 years ago. It’s wonderful. I would not design something that did not respond to the needs of patients, family and staff."

The design will also allow for the creation of three more parking spaces for patients and visitors.

After initial hesitance, councillor John Tanner concluded: “This is clearly a huge improvement for Sobell and the people of Oxford – we would be crazy not to approve it."

Councillor Ruth Wilkinson noted that there was ‘a lot of sensitivity’ about traffic in Headington, asking that construction vehicles avoid residential areas.

The hospice hopes to start building in September.

The Oxford Mail is campaigning to raise £40,000 to pay for 100 days of care at the hospice.

To donate visit justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/shhc/oxmailsobellappeal