PLANS for Marie Curie to build a new hospice in Solihull were given the green light this week.
On Wednesday evening, the council’s planning committee voted unanimously to approve the state-of-the-art building on Marsh Lane.
The application will now be referred to the Government Office of the West Midlands - who will have the final say.
Arguments for and against the development were thrashed out for over an hour by members. When the decision was announced, supporters sat in the public gallery broke into spontaneous applause.
Liz Cottier, hospice manager, said: “I know exactly how real and how urgent the need for a new hospice is in this community.
“The local community are right behind our plans to build the most modern hospice of its kind in the UK, here in Solihull.”
Members were told how the facilities at the current hospice were outdated - the lack of single sex toilets and the cramped conditions being among the issues raised.
Lorely Burt, MP for Solihull, also supported the proposals and said she was delighted by the committee’s decision.
“What is at stake here is the future of keeping our hospice in Solihull,” she had told councillors.
At present, 60 per cent of patients and over 80 per cent of volunteers are from the borough.
But some locals had objected to building on a Green Belt site - saying that it would cause traffic problems and damage the leafy character of Solihull.
David Scott, from the Marsh Lane Area Residents’ Group, said: “Marie Curie say there are very special circumstances that should allow them to build in the Green Belt. They have not proved this.”
While Marie Curie argued that the Marsh Lane land was the only suitable site, residents raised questions about how vigorously the charity had searched for an alternative.
After giving the nod to the project, councillors also granted outline planning approval to demolish the current premises on Warwick Road and build up to 37 dwellings on the site.