'˜Secret' children's home plans spark outrage
Plans to transform a Â£1.5m St Annes house into a care home for young people have sparked outrage.
Residents say they were kept in the dark about the plans, which could see up to six young people aged up to 17-years-old moved into the Inner Promenade house.
Childcare provider Sandcastle Care applied for the change of use for the building using a certificate of lawfulness, which is used for proposals that do not require planning permission.
This means Fylde Council is not required to seek the opinions of local residents before making a final decision on the plans.
Peter Wood, who lives off Inner Promenade and has relatives living on the street, said: “The public feeling, it’s fair to say, is that this is more about planning than about whether children are housed there or not. The concern is that Fylde Council is putting the interests of the developers above the interests of the residents.
“It is a business coming into a residential area.
“People feel that it’s been purposely kept under the radar.”
Around 80 local residents expressed their concerns at a public meeting at St Annes Town Hall on Monday.
Coun Cheryl Little, who attended the meeting, said: “As you can imagine there has been a bit of a backlash from residents.People believe that it should go through the planning process where everyone can be heard.
“We can put forward what they are concerned about but the councillors’ hands are tied because we must work by the binds of Government.”
She added the hearing will take place tomorrow and a decision made on the proposals.
Andrew Stell, planning development manager at Fylde Council, said: “The council is currently considering an application to determine whether the proposed use of the property as a children’s home would be a material change of use and so require planning permission, or whether the use can be undertaken without the need to apply for planning permission.
“As this is a legal assessment there is no requirement to seek third party opinions on the proposal and the application will be carefully considered by the council in accordance with the requirements of the relevant legislation.”
Sandcastle Childcare declined to comment.