This application was for a change of use from residential dwelling (Use Class C3) to children's residential accommodation (Use Class C2) at 16 Avondale Road, Wellington, Telford, Shropshire TF1 2HD
This application was before Planning Committee at the request of Wellington Town Council.
Councillor M Hosken (Ward Councillor) spoke against the application and on behalf of local residents who had raised concerns regarding the change of use from use class C3 to use class C2. This was a residential property and should not be used for a commercial enterprise and a family would be removed from their home and moved elsewhere in order to accommodate a pseudo family. He raised concerns regarding the ages of the residents, the sex of the residents, social and educational welfare area outside of the property, staff qualifications and who would monitor their performance and that this money making venture would affect the lives of local residents and devalue surrounding properties.
Mrs H Barker, a member of the public, raised concerns regarding the consultation process and she had made further representations prior to the committee meeting. She was not against the idea of the scheme but felt that issues had not been fully addressed in relation to the bedrooms and sleeping arrangements for up to four people on a 24 hour basis. Some of the downstairs space was being converted into work space and this would limit the living space which would be unfair on the children. The back garden was of a decent size but adjoined five other gardens spaces and this, together with the weather, would limit the use in that sense. She felt that this application would be more suitable for a detached house in order to meet the needs of the children.
The Planning Officer confirmed that this was a three bedroom, two storey house with parking at the front and around the side of the property. The change of use to a C2 residential institution would be for a maximum of two children from the ages of 8-18 years with two carers on a rota basis. There would be up to two children sleeping overnight with six carers on for 48 hours and the off for 60 hours with no more than three carers at any one time. There would be a changeover at 8am with a manager visiting between the hours of 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Changes to the living room into an office/study was proposed and there was sufficient parking space at the property. Policy HO7 regarding specialist housing needs proposed that it met the needs of local residents and required local community shops, services and transport. Policy BE1 confirmed there was no significant adverse impact. The proposed use would simulate a typical family and was close to amenities and services in Wellington. A balanced view had been taken as planning could not differentiate between children, there was a strict match making process for vulnerable children and a short of supply of housing with children often being move to another authority losing their local family connection. The application could not be considered on suitability but on its own individual merits. In relation to parking and highway impact, there were no objections in relation to trip generation. There was no detrimental impact in relation to overlooking and noise on neighbouring properties and due to adequate garden space and on-site parking the application was compliant with the Local Plan.
During the debate some Members raised that this was an opportunity for two children to be looked after and brought up in a proper manner and that the property could be sold and difficult children could move in and it was felt that it was a family replacing a family and there was no reasons to object. Other Members felt that the property was not physically suitable in relation to small domestic living conditions and the conversion of a living room into an office space and it was asked where the second carer would sleep. It was asked if the close family contact would take place at the residence and that the application did have unanswered questions in relation to parking and the domestic situation. Other Members re-iterated concerns regarding visitors to the property ie psychologists, social services, police and at all times of day and night and that this could have a detrimental impact to neighbouring properties, the size of the property as it was a only a semi-detached house.
The Planning Officer confirmed that there were three bedrooms, one for each of the children and one for the carer. Due to the nature of the shift patterns, only one carer would be asleep during the night with the other carer on hand to support the children with any issues on a rota basis and the office space would be used for this purpose.
The Development Management Service Delivery Manager confirmed that Planning related to the land use and there was no detrimental impact to amenities. The property had previously been extended to house a family unit and had been smaller. Ofsted would oversee any potential provider for the children in care and that they would have to provide a safe and satisfactory environment.
Upon being put to the vote it was, by a majority:-
RESOLVED – that delegated authority be granted to the Delivery Management Service Delivery Manager to grant full planning permission subject to the conditions contained within the report (with authority to finalise Condition(s) to be delegated to Development Management Service Delivery Manager).