DEMENTIA sufferers and elderly people with specialist nursing needs will be better cared for after plans for a new care home were approved on Thursday.

The Order of St John’s Care Trust (OSJCT) owns several care homes in Salisbury that can no longer meet the needs of the elderly residents and wants to build a three-storey, 120-bed care home at the Portway, Old Sarum.

The new care home will provide 72 specialist nursing beds and 48 dementia beds, along with landscaping and car parking.

Care home operator Peter Holcroft told Wiltshire Council’s southern area planning committee that the demographic has changed and there has been a move away from the provision of residential care and more need for specialised and dementia care.

“We have three care homes in Salisbury,” he said. “They were built in the 1970s – excellent in the day and excellent for residential care, but they have 10sqm bedrooms with no en suites and narrow corridors. We need to cater for the present and for the future.”

The land had been allocated for employment use as part of the Portway development. The committee heard the plan would be to close two of the OSJCT’s Salisbury care homes, Bemerton Lodge and Stratford Court, and transfer staff to the new home.

The planning officer’s report said the OSJCT plan to redevelop these sites for care purposes in the future, but no proposals have been submitted yet.

The application split the committee, with several councillors saying they had not seen enough information to make a decision either way, and concerns being raised about the plan not bringing any extra jobs to the area.

Four committee members voted in favour of approval, three voted against and two abstained.