“A back door way of building on our greenbelt,” were the words used to describe plans for a 60-bed care home in Knowle.
Gracewell Healthcare Limited ahs been granted planning permission to build the new development in Warwick Road in return for making improvements to the neighbouring Old Silhillians Sports Club.
Coun Howard Allen (Green, Shirley West) blasted the decision to allow the development on greenbelt land after an almost identical application was turned down by councillors at the end of last year, amid concerns it was too big a scheme.
“This is an opportunist proposal,” he told the meeting.
“We have a company which has come along and offered to uplift the club in return for cheap development on greenbelt.”
But other members argued the Old Sils was in desperate need of refurbishment, especially to the changing room facilities.
The venue had previously said it could not proceed with improvements that had already been granted permission, because proceeds from the care home proposals were needed to bankroll the work.
Coun Jim Ryan (Con, Bickenhill) said it was vital to support a scheme that was going to keep the club open.
“If we lose this opportunity, we will lose a sporting facility that has been there for many years, that needs an injection of cash to survive.”
Coun Ryan said he had supported the protection of greenbelt for 30 years but argued that, on this occasion, the small piece of land was “worth sacrificing”.
He said: “We are talking about the Olympic legacy and giving young people the opportunity to represent their country.”
As part of the care home development, improvements will also be made to the Old Sils car park and building, which will enable more sporting clubs to use the facilities.