Development of the Royal Eye Infirmary, Apsley Road, Mutley
How many people know about the re-development of the Royal Eye Infirmary building and its grounds? The Eye Infirmary itself vacates the premises which it has been leasing at the end of November and the owners have submitted plans for the original Victorian building and the grounds.
The existing building (minus the relatively new extension) is to be converted to 12 apartments. As the building is listed this will preserve the structure and I have no conflict with this idea. However, within the grounds of this historic building there are plans to construct 55 retirement apartments plus a manager's suite. The building plans submitted are for a 5 storey construction with flat roofs, totally at odds with the architecture of the neighbourhood.
'Mutley Fields' was developed in 1907 and a great-great-great-aunt of mine purchased a terraced house in Dale Road, opposite the entrance to the Royal Eye Infirmary. It has been in the family ever since and my 91 year old father still lives there. He was stunned to receive notice of application for planning permission to develop the site, he could not believe that there was a need for 55 retirement apartments in the area or that indeed this was a suitable place for such dwellings. In recent years a great many of the large terraced buildings in the area had been purchased as student lets and parking in the vicinity had become a nightmare.
The notification list provided by the developers shows that the letters were sent addressed to 'the occupier' of each property or flat in close proximity to the new development. In most cases these 'occupiers' are tenants and of these a great majority are probably students. Will these tenants pass on the letters to the owners of the properties, and if they do will the owners be concerned as long as the rent keeps coming in?
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Who will take a stand against this under-publicised development? Who will care if this small oasis in the urban sprawl disappears? I hazard a guess that only the few older long-term residents of this once-quiet area will raise their voices against what is probably a 'fait accompli'. As one who spent her childhood here, nursed her dying mother in a bedroom warmed by winter sunshine which will be blocked by this hideous development and still takes her grandchildren to visit their great-grandfather there I will shed more than a tear.