Neighbours suffered ‘hell’ after living next to a derelict former builders’ merchants in Woodley, a councillor has said. But she said they’ve welcomed plans to build a care home in its place.

Wokingham Borough Council approved plans to build a 68 bedroom care home on Woodley Green on Wednesday, April 10.

The care home will replace the former Travis Perkins site, which has been empty since the builders' merchants left. Alison Swaddle, a councillor for Coronation Ward, told the council’s planning committee the site had become ‘derelict.’

She said: “There was a terrible problem with an illegal encampment there – life was hell for residents.

READ MORE: Loddon Vale GP under pressure if new care home approved, NHS warns

“So they were really keen that development came in. They didn’t want housing but they were pleased with the care home because we’ve all got parents who are aging, grandparents, who want to stay local.”

Previous plans to build a care home on Woodley Green, on the site of the former Travis Perkins depot, were refused in November last year. Council planning officers said the plans would overlook neighbours’ homes creating a ‘harmful sense of enclosure.’

The developers Propco Woodley Green amended the design after appointing a new architect and after talking to neighbours.

Several neighbours wrote to the council in favour of the plans to build the care home, which would occupy the empty site.

But the NHS body responsible for providing services across the borough has said there are not enough consulting rooms in Woodley to deal with the new residents.

And it said Loddon Vale GP practice in particular is under pressure from other nearby planning applications.

Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board asked council planning officers to secure £58,752 from developers towards new infrastructure to support patient services if planning permission is granted.

But officers said they couldn’t do this without evidence that the care home would take the local GP surgery over capacity, and details of the infrastructure the contribution would pay for.

Committee member Tony Skuse said it was ‘reasonable’ to assume the care home would ‘stretch’ local GP surgeries.

He said: “With an extra 68 elderly, needy people coming into their area it might well stretch the existing primary healthcare a little further.” He asked if the NHS needed help to understand what evidence it needed.

Planning officer Brian Conlon said that conversations between the council and the NHS had been ‘ongoing’.

He said the NHS has started to make requests for funding contributions from developers. He added: “I wouldn’t be surprised if this came up again in the future.”