A specialist home which provides a family environment for children and young people who have suffered abuse, neglect and trauma will not have to close its doors – after Nelsons won a two-and-a-half-year planning battle following strong opposition from some locals.
Absolute Children’s Service (ACS) opened the six-bedroomed home, in Low Burnham, in January 2015 after being advised by North Lincolnshire Council that planning permission was not required – and instead, a lawful development certificate would suffice. But a year later, the council told ACS it would need to obtain planning permission to continue to operate the small-scale children’s home, which can accommodate up to four young people.
The application was recommended for approval but was refused by the council’s planning committee. An appeal against the refusal was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate on the sole ground of noise and disturbance to the neighbouring property primarily as a result of late-night shift changes.
Kylie Chapman, Associate and specialist planning solicitor at Nelsons, said:
“Following the refusal, we worked with ACS to revise staffing and car parking arrangements to reduce the perceived impact on the neighbouring property. The new shift pattern meant there would be no vehicle movements associated with staff changeovers between 9pm and 8am, with a single staff member arriving at 8am and departing at 9pm respectively.”
A new planning application was submitted in November 2017, but despite once again being recommended for approval by council officers, the planning committee refused the application in February 2018. The following day, the council served an enforcement notice requiring use of the property as a children’s home to cease.
Nelsons submitted another planning appeal and an enforcement notice appeal on behalf of ACS. In September this year, the appeal inspector quashed the enforcement notice and granted planning permission to retain the use as a children’s home.
In coming to his decision, Inspector Roy Merrett BSc (Hons) DipTP MRTPI, said:
“I am firmly of the view that the number of vehicle movements…would be similar to that of a large household who may otherwise occupy the property.
“It seems to me that the benefits of placing children within a spacious and tranquil setting, with a range of recreation opportunities on the site and away from the more stressful and pressurised environments of the type they have been referred from, irrespective of whether they are in Lincolnshire or not, is a very compelling argument in support of the proposal.”
“In good faith, ACS opened a beautiful, therapeutic ‘non-institutional’ home for children who need a stable family environment. From the day it opened its doors, the home was rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. The leadership and management of the home has consistently been graded as outstanding, which is a credit to ACS’ dedication to this home.”
Debra Stanway, Director of ACS, said:
“We were dedicated to being able to retain this facility, having gone above and beyond to put forward a proposal that protects neighbouring residents. Going forward, we’re keen to work with local residents in the hope that the home can finally be accepted as a permanent part of the community.”