PLANS to create a care home for looked after children will go ahead despite objections from residents who expressed fears about anti-social behaviour.
Operator GAC Family Services Limited had applied for change of use permission so a property in St Anne’s Road in New Marske, near Redcar, could accommodate three children aged between eight and 18 years old.
A representative of the firm told a meeting of Redcar and Cleveland Council’s regulatory committee that they would be from “dysfunctional” backgrounds, but would be risk assessed to ensure their suitability.
Members of the committee unanimously approved the application in line with an officer’s recommendation.
There were a number of objections from residents with one, John Pearson, stating that residents living nearby were largely elderly and referring to care homes as “often attracting undesirable elements”.
He also said residents were worried about the saleability of housing in the area should the care home get the green light.
In a statement read out at the hearing Mr Pearson said there was a long-standing legal covenant covering houses on the estate which stipulated no commercial use was allowed.
But the council’s development services manager Claire Griffiths said the existence of any covenant was not a planning issue for members.
Pensioner Sheila Gray, who spoke at the committee meeting, said she was worried about privacy and asked for the application to be deferred for more information.
She said: “I don’t want this to go ahead, it would be bad for the area.”
Councillors were told that the care home would be fully regulated by Ofsted, staffed 24/7 with two members of staff working per shift, and “sensitive to the needs of neighbours”.
Councillor Neil Baldwin said: “We have been here a few times recently with children’s homes and we seem to get the same arguments around crime and the perception that young people will be involved.
“These children will be living in a house with what is in effect two parents to supervise them at all times.
“It is a residential area, it is where children belong.
“At the end of the road there is a primary school, there is a playground nearby and a reasonable bus service, as far as I am concerned it couldn’t be more custom made for this use.”
Councillor Craig Hannaway said: “We are not dealing here with a crack den or some kind of brothel, it is a children’s home regulated by Ofsted.
“Everything depends on having the right children in the right place.
“I understand the fears, but it is unlikely that they will come to fruition, and because we are dealing with very vulnerable children they are much more of a danger to themselves most often than to their neighbours.”
A report said there were no extensions or alterations proposed as part of the application and the care home should not create levels of noise and disturbance above that of a single family dwelling.
It added: “With regard to the concerns from residents in respect to anti-social and criminal behaviour associated with the proposed use, it is particularly difficult for planning considerations to give any significant weight to the potential behaviour of individuals. “Were permission to be granted, the planning permission and any associated conditions could not reasonably control the behaviour of the occupiers and the day to day management of the use. “Were anti-social behaviour to occur, this would be a matter for the staff and management of the facility and any others responsible for dealing with the nature of the behaviour such as the police.”