A planning application (S/39358) to change the use of a property in Llwynhendy at 2 Erw Las, from a Class 3 residential to a Class 2 children’s residential home has been rejected by Carmarthenshire County Councillors at a planning meeting today, Tuesday (Feb 11). Officers had recommended approval for the application.
An objector to the plans, Ian Morgan said that the home was in a flood risk area. He said as a former employee and team leader for CCW which was an arm of NRW that he knew the properties had been flooded in 2005.
Speaking at the meeting Mr Morgan said: “There is a difference. These children will have complex needs. However good staff may be, there will be disruption and some noise. The lady next door in her small house will have nowhere to flee to.”
He continued: “Children’s services have objected to this because of the costs it may bring on the county. You are bringing people in by the back door.”
The proposal to refuse planning was made by Cllr John James and seconded by Kevin Madge. Councillors were reminded by the Head of Planning, Llinos Quelch, that when councillors refuse a planning application they have to provide valid planning materials for doing so.
Cllr Sue Allen said that she had concerns over safety on site with a car park outside a patio door to a kitchen.
Cllr Gilasbey said that her issue was raised with regards to flooding and TAN 15.
Cllr Kevin Madge said that his objection related to the development not being in the Local Development Plan.
He also cited the Future Generations and Well Being Act stating that the development would not be suitable to cater for the needs of youngsters who would come from the cities.
Llinos Quelch asked councillors to specify which policies related to their decisions to refuse.
Sue Allen cited disability issues. She said: “Nobody knows who is coming. There was a downstairs bedroom, no en suite toilet, no ramp.” She asked: “Were there any facilities for disabled children?”
Cllr John James said that objectors gave a long list. He asked: “Can I put forward that we look at all of those and bring them back to the committee?”
Cllr Jean Lewis said that the building wasn’t in a safe location.
Asked if she was clear what policy that related to she replied “GP1.”
The Chair accepted Cllr James’ proposal to look through the objectors reasons relating to council planning policy.
Cllr Sharen Davies said that following the site visit she reiterated concerns and the negative impact including highways and flooding.
She said: “The change of use would introduce a commercial aspect to a residential area. The resulting change would lead to an intensification of vehicle movements.” She highlighted concerns of speeding motorists. Cllr Davies drew attention to the significant increase in traffic owing to the number of staff on the premises and visiting professionals like social workers and police. She said that the number of vehicle movements could not be accurately assessed. There were she said concerns around the location according to the council’s own policies within the LDP including lack of access to essential services. Cllr Davies advised that conditions could be imposed to limit the number of staff and occupants and recommended refusal for planning permission.
Cllr Deryk Cundy raised the issue of the remoteness of the facility. He said: “The remote care proposed facility for 11 to 18-year-olds outside of their county was being critically reviewed by the children’s commissioner.
“Extra children’s homes are putting a massive strain on police resources.”
He said that the county was experiencing anti social behaviour at children’s homes in Pwll and Ammanford and that education, health and support services were already over stretched.
Cllr Cundy claimed that uncertainty abounded in the application. He said: “How can we be assured they will be able to deliver the services they fame and not create an unacceptable nuisance. That is the worry of our own County Council professionals in the children’s department who have objected to this application. We are adding our objections to theirs and many worried residents.”
He asked that should the council be of the mind to pass the application they should consider conditions including full sound proofing and installation of strong fencing 6ft high erected between properties.
Cllr Ieuan davies warned of the danger if children escaped explaining that the railway line was very near to the property.
Kevin Madge mentioned numerous issues he believed had a detrimental impact on residents including police visits to existing children’s homes in Carmarthenshire, where he said they were already experiencing problems.
Cllr Madge said: “We don’t use private homes in England why should England have to come here. That is what will happen now. The English authorities will be bringing children down from England to this location. There should be a fence. There won’t be privacy. There will be screaming children. They are not normal children so there will be a lot of screaming going on and the resident next door needs to be protected from that. It is unsuitable to be in this location.”
He said he would not support the application.
Richard Bowen of Asbri Planning said: “This application has been thoroughly examined in relation to the development proposed resulting in a positive recommendation from your professional officers. The officers report is transparent, balanced well informed providing a reason and justification as to why the application is considered acceptable. Notwithstanding this the applicant is fully aware that there are objections expressed not only by the local member of the community council but also by local residents. While the officers report has sought to address each of these issues in detail I would take this opportunity to reinforce the fact that we consider the application accords with the spirit of both local and national planning policy and that there are no other material planning considerations which indicate the application is unacceptable. It is considered that the key technical areas which are of fundamental importance to the determination of the application are adequately dealt within the detailed officers report. It is noted that there are no statutory consultees including the council’s own highways department who have raised objection to the application.”
I would seek to reiterate, this is an application for a children’s home to provide disadvantaged youngsters with a caring, normal home environment. This is not an application for a detention centre or a young offenders centre as has been cited by many of the objectors and as such the basis of such objections should be totally disregarded and should not prejudice the determination of this application.
You can watch the webcast of the meeting here.