Relief as home plan dismissed

Residents in Preston New Road, Blackpool have won a battle against turning a nearby property into a childrens home.
Residents in Preston New Road, Blackpool have won a battle against turning a nearby property into a childrens home.
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CONTROVERSIAL plans to convert a detached house into a children’s home have been thrown out after it was ruled the development would “unacceptably harm” the quality of life of neighbours.

Advanced Childcare, the firm behind the scheme, had appealed after the council twice rejected plans to convert a property on Preston New Road, Marton, into a home for up to six young people aged between 11 and 17, from troubled backgrounds.

But planning inspector Anthony Lyman, who oversaw a day-long public inquiry at the town hall in February, dismissed the appeal.

He said immediate neighbours would suffer noise disruption from staff leaving late at night and from a proposed games room, and added he was concerned about road safety.

Mr Lyman said in his report he had “no doubt” the scheme would “provide a high quality caring environment”, but added “although the proposal would not materially harm the living conditions of most neighbours and that, in this case, fear of crime does not carry significant weight, the care home would unacceptably harm the quality of life currently enjoyed by the occupants of the adjacent dwelling.”

The decision was welcomed by residents who had campaigned vigorously against the application.

Michael Wigham, chairman of the Preston New Road Residents Association, said: “Everyone is absolutely delighted with the outcome and we are pleased the inspector listened to our concerns.

“The main reasons he gave for dismissing the appeal were the protection of the privacy of adjacent residents, that it would be out of keeping with the residential area and the traffic concerns.

“Residents can now assume their normal, quiet lives and we look forward to hopefully seeing a family move into the property which has been empty a long time.”

Advanced Childcare had insisted youngsters would be well supervised with a team of three qualified managers and carers on site at all times.

The company said its reputation for running well-managed homes meant people had nothing to worry about.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden, who spoke at the inquiry, said: “It is important to realise this is not an issue of not accepting the need for such provision in Blackpool, but it does mean those who wish to provide it must reach the highest standards both in terms of provision and demonstrating particular need.

“I think it sends a message that in the provision of these sort of facilities, any applicant must take into account the views of people living nearby and the broader issues.”