CONTROVERSIAL flats for the elderly that have been likened to architecture from the 'Soviet Bloc' are set to be built in Chipping Norton.

District councillors approved plans for an 80-bed extra care complex in the Rockhill area at a meeting on Monday.

Every apartment is classed as affordable and communal facilities will be open to the public, but several residents have voiced their opposition to the scheme.

Chipping Norton Town Council objected based on the design, the need to build homes for younger people and the strain it would put on the town's doctors surgeries.

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Mike Tysoe, a town councillor and ex-Mayor of Chipping Norton, likened it to a structure from the 'Soviet Bloc' and argued there was a greater need for homes for younger residents.

He said: “It’s very square and angular. I and a lot of councillors think it’s totally horrible.

“The one thing we really need in the town is housing for the young. There are exceptions, but in general there’s no accommodation for them.”

This attitude was reflected in one of the 12 letters objecting to the scheme, which read: “Why do we need yet more retirement homes, surely we are trying to get the young people on the housing ladder, who in turn will boost the local economy and hopefully increase the workforce in Chipping Norton.”

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According to West Oxfordshire District Council's Homeseeker Plus system, there are at least 60 households with members aged 55 or over who have indicated they would like to live in Chipping Norton.

Extra care enables older people with support needs to live independently in self-contained accommodation, with a care team on site all day.

The three-storey complex will be located on the corner of London Road and Russell Way, in front of Chipping Norton Health Centre and diagonally opposite the new Windmill Square retail park.

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Apartments are split between one and two-bed flats, with 60 let at affordable rents and the other 20 shared ownership, and residents must be 55 or older to apply.

It will offer communal facilities including gardens, a dining area, lounges and activity areas, and a salon. People who have a local connection to Chipping Norton and the surrounding area will be prioritised.

The plans were approved subject to a cycle and construction plan being put in, while previous design amendments mean it will be set back from the road.

Councillors were divided over the plans, with many voicing their dismay at the design while acknowledging the need for the complex.

David Jackson, of the Bartons, said: “Quite a few people in Chipping Norton who will be using this facility will already have a live-in carer.

“This will be ideal in freeing up houses elsewhere in the town.”

But Nigel Colston, of Kingham Rollright and Enstone, said: "Millions of people visit the Cotswolds, from all over the world, for our landscape, architecture and our wonderful stone.

“They’ll be disappointed when they see this.”

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The Rockhill scheme lies on the border of the East Chipping Norton Strategic Development Area, which is allocated for 1,200 homes, business land, facilities including a new primary school and an eastern link road as part of the district's Local Plan.

It will be developed by specialist provider Housing and Care 21 and will receive £2.9m of funding from the Oxfordshire Growth Deal, which is backing a similar scheme at Great Western Park, Didcot.

West Oxfordshire District Council is contributing additional funding of £300,000.

Jeff Haine, the council's cabinet member for strategic housing and development, said: “As people are living longer, their care needs are growing.

“This scheme will allow many older people to continue to live independently, having any support they need on hand.

“It will also allow them to stay involved with the local community that they have lived in for many years.”