A NEW block of assisted living apartments and 64 new homes will be built on the old Defra site after plans were backed by councillors.

The plan, which includes 71 extra care apartments and 64 homes, was the second phase on the old Defra site, off Whittington Road, in Worcester, to be backed by the city council.

The brownfield site was earmarked as employment space in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) but the area has now been deemed unviable for employment and approval to swap it to residential was sought.

Despite many councillors on the city council’s planning committee saying they were disappointed it would not be used for employment, the plans were backed by nine votes to one.

Councillor Roger Berry said he was disappointed the site was not being used for its original use particularly as it was a “prime location” near to the motorway.

He said it was “vitally important” that the city built more extra care apartments.

Cllr Pat Agar said she was disappointed but could not disagree with the viability experts.

She said the extra care apartments were much-needed.

Cllr Chris Mitchell, chairman of the planning committee, said it was a “good” development despite his disappointment that approving it would mean a loss of employment land.

Cllr Alan Amos said approving the plan would be “very unwise” and the planning committee should be listening to the council’s planning policy officer and economic development officer who raise objections over the loss of employment land.

He said: “I think they are pretty big objections. We are building a lot of homes and eventually those people are going to need jobs.”

He said the development was already deficient of 35 car parking spaces because the plan was put together using old highways guidelines.

Cllr Amos added: “For the life of me I don’t think it is something we should be approving.”

Cllr Chris Cawthorne said she was glad to see garages and electric car charging points included in the plan and welcomed the financial contributions the developer would be making towards a community and personal travel service.

As part of the plan, 41 of the 135 homes and extra care apartments would be affordable.

The new extra care apartment building is expected to bring 43 new jobs.