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Health & Fitness Objections emerge to plan for children's home in 'exclusive' neighbourhood

18:50  02 december  2022
18:50  02 december  2022 Source:   gazettelive.co.uk

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A plan to turn a house into a children's home for up to two youngsters has attracted objections from residents in an "exclusive" part of town.

A proposal for a children's home in Billingham has drawn objections © Publicity Picture A proposal for a children's home in Billingham has drawn objections

Hexagon Care Services Ltd have applied for planning permission to change a four-bedroom detached home in Rossetti Way, Billingham, to a "small specialist children's home" for children aged eight to 18. They say it will provide a "warm nurturing place to live" for children who often did not have good parenting early in life through no fault of their own.

However objectors say it is an unsuitable development which could drive down house prices in a "close community". They have raised concerns with Stockton Council over crime, anti-social behaviour, noise, litter, parking, access, health and privacy.

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Rose Consulting Planning and Regeneration, agent for the developer, says it aims to provide a stable home environment, not a "halfway house", encouraging education, hobbies and leisure activities with children expected to attend mainstream school. Six carers would work at the home in "small family units", with up to three there at any one time, two sleeping overnight on a rota.

The company's planning statement says: "The purpose of the home would be to support the children to build their confidence, help them in developing life skills and prepare them for life when they leave the home to fend for themselves. Without such homes and positive interventions, these children when they leave the controlled environment of care homes will often end up in adult institutions, suffering from long-term health problems

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"There will be no external alterations to the building or surrounds. From the outside, there will be no change in the appearance or character of the dwelling.

"It is maintained that the nature of the use is not materially different from the current use as a family dwelling. Comings and goings would be no greater than occur at present, hence there would be no undue disturbance to any neighbours."

'Harmonious place to live'

Objectors have expressed concerns about the proposal. One said it would reduce demand for family homes: "The potential for anti-social behaviour could lead to the local residents feeling unsafe in what is considered an exclusive part of Billingham. For those directly adjacent to this home, it will definitely impact their daily lives in a negative manner."

One resident told the council: "This is a quiet residential area. I believe having this proposed home could devalue our houses, which we have built up over the decades.

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"I would hate for rowdiness and trouble to bother the neighbours. This has always been a harmonious place to live."

'Unnecessary risk'

Another objector raised concerns about "potential risk to the wider community", strain on council resources and lack of consultation: "It is not suitable for a private company to run a business from this property. Exposing our children to any form of unnecessary risk is not acceptable."

Other objectors said:

  • "We have lived here for almost 26 years and in all that time we have never encountered any disturbances in this street. This children's home could bring unknown trouble to this area and cause the residents undue anxiety";
  • "The proposition of a heightened risk of anti-social behaviour and the probability of an increased police presence is already causing anxiety and stress within the neighbourhood";
  • "People won't feel safe in their own homes not knowing who lives at the property and what issues they have."

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