NEW retirement homes which are set to be approved in Wallingford could be built on top of human ashes.

Beechcroft Developments have applied to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, to build 23 retirement apartments on top of the old Winterbrook Nursing Home to the west of Reading Road.

The application includes demolishing the old nursing and dementia home which closed permanently in November last year following a controversy in 2019 where three employees were accused of alleged neglect and ill treatment of residents. The case was eventually dropped because of insufficient evidence.

Herald Series: The new proposed retirement apartments (Beechcroft Developments)The new proposed retirement apartments (Beechcroft Developments)

READ MORE: Plans to demolish care home and replace with retirement flats back by council

However, a former staff member has claimed that there are human ashes buried on the site and has urged councillors to allow families to retrieve the ashes before the site is demolished and rebuilt on.

The staff member spoke out at a meeting of Wallingford Town Council’s planning committee last week.

Nigel Hughes, who chairs the committee, said: “A member of the public made a plea in the planning meeting, she was a former staff member at the care home, and she told us the ashes were there.

“She was saying, and the council agreed, that the relatives of these people should be given the opportunity to retrieve those ashes if they want.

“She couldn’t tell us where the ashes were buried but said she knew someone who did and passed their details onto the developers.

“It would be good for the families to be able to get the ashes back but it’s not a planning term so when it came to us making a judgement we couldn’t really consider it.

Herald Series: The current site where human ashes are allegedly buried (Google Maps)The current site where human ashes are allegedly buried (Google Maps)

“But we kept it in mind and added it as a comment once we had made our decision.”

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The council recommended that the plans be approved but added that they want the claims investigated first.

In an official comment to the planning authority, the committee said: “It was proposed by Councillor Deborah Whelan, and seconded by Councillor Michael Kidley, and resolved to recommend that this application be supported and that the claim that human ashes are buried on the site be investigated.”

Meanwhile, people living near the suggested development site are against the plans, which include a three-storey building, communal facilities, parking, access, and landscaping, due to “over-development”.

Herald Series: Councillors said it would be good for families to get the ashes back but it "isn't a planning term"Councillors said it would be good for families to get the ashes back but it "isn't a planning term"

Matthew Clarke, of Wintergreen Lane, said: “As a resident who lives in the shadow of this proposed development I feel the revised plans still fail to address the fundamental concerns that despite minor changes this remains an intrusive, over-development by its height and mass.”

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Andy Bush, of Winterbrook, added: “The amended proposal is still too big for the surrounding area and not in keeping with the town plan. This is not an environmentally sustainable development.”


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This story was written by Gee Harland, she joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing:

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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