CHILDREN’S HOME: Solihull plans approved despite objections
A children’s home has been been given the go-ahead in a Solihull street, despite neighbours’ protests that the plans had been “railroaded” through.
More than 20 objections had been lodged against the change of use application for 6 Maple Leaf Drive, in Marston Green.
They had argued that the residential area already had a cluster of care facilities, with the Brooklands Hospital, Maple Leaf Centre and Maples Residential Care Home nearby.
But at this week’s planning committee, several members stressed the importance of providing suitable places for “vulnerable” kids.
A majority felt the home – which would have two adult carers and space for up to three eight to 17-year-olds – would have a minimal impact on existing residents.
However, local woman Karen Wakefield said those living nearby were concerned by the possibility of extra traffic and disturbance.
“[You are] putting another facility of this type on a residential housing estate,” she said.
“And I’m sorry we don’t feel like we have been heard or considered and there is a very great feeling here that this has been railroaded.”
David Barnes, speaking on behalf of the applicant, said that residents’ concerns had been “carefully noted” but neither the council’s own officers or police had raised any objection.
“At the heart of this application it’s just a simple proposal to allow three children to be able to live in a community in what would be a safe environment for them. It’s not an uncommon situation across the country.”
Cllr Maggie Allen (Green, Shirley West) felt the impact locally had been “over-exaggerated.”
“These are looked after children – they are not delinquents,” she said.
“They are children who have not had a very good start in life, it could be somebody whose parents are in hospital and they just need a little while to be safe.
“It’s no different from having a family move in with three children.”
However, Cllr Jim Ryan (Con, Bickenhill) had wanted more detail on the applicant’s track record and whether they operated any similar facilities elsewhere.
He said this may “allay any fears” that locals may have about the business moving into the area.
Although planning officers argued that this was not a planning issue and the regulation of the home – and ensuring it met the required standards – would fall under the remit of the watchdog Ofsted.
The plans were passed by a majority of eight to one.
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
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