A decision to grant permission for a new care home in Kidlington has prompted a vicar to question the democracy of local planning processes.

Cherwell District Council approved the 54-flat development on the site of Thornbury House, The Moors, on Thursday, despite concerns about the size and scale of the project and a lack of adequate parking.

Developer Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association Limited (BPHA) reduced the height after objections, but some councillors said only on one side of the building was being changed.

St Mary’s Close resident the Rev Jim Turner, 78, who still preaches at churches in Oxfordshire, added: “I question the democracy of the whole planning procedure. Some very valid concerns have been raised, but seem to have been skirted over.

“The service areas are still going to be very close to some of the neighbours’ homes, and I worry there will be noise pollution issues, as well as smells from the kitchen and laundry. The access in and out of the site is also not good.”

Kidlington North district councillor Alaric Rose said: “I’m disappointed they didn’t defer the decision for further consultation and exploration of the residents’ concerns. I know they reduced the height on one side, but there are wider issues such as parking and transport. I don’t feel that 20 parking spaces is nearly sufficient for 54 bedrooms, along with staff and medical visitors.”

Part of the funding for the development will come from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), in the form of a £3.4m grant.

HCA spokesman Ben Lowndes said: “We’re really pleased that councillors have approved the planning application for Thornbury House, which will provide much needed accommodation for older people in Kidlington. “We fully recognise the importance of this project, which is why we agreed to invest in the construction of the scheme.

“This investment is made through our Affordable Homes Programme, which is set up to support the Government’s aim of delivering 170,000 new affordable homes in England by 2015.

“Under this programme, building work should complete by March 2015 in order for investment to be claimed. “Now that plans have been approved for this project, we are entirely confident that this scheme will be able to start on site during the autumn, which would enable the investment to be claimed in good time.”

A BHPA spokesman said they were delighted the scheme was approved adding that the plans had been altered to take residents’ comments into account, reducing the mass and height of the building and removing balconies from the eastern elevation.Trees around the site will be kept.

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