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Residents say they find plans for children's care home in Heysham 'deeply distressing'

Heysham residents have objected to plans for a house to become a residential care home for vulnerable children.

A letter from Heysham Neighbourhood Council said the plans are "deeply distressing to the residents of this area".

This comes after Blackpool-based childcare provider Theraputic Care Ltd applied to Lancaster City Council for planning permission to change 27 Longlands Crescent in Heysham into a residential care home.

Up to two young people, no older than 17, would live in the four-bedroomed detached house, with care provided 24 hours a day by up to two staff and a manager during the day, and two staff overnight.

The existing downstairs bedroom would become a staff office, and two of the bedrooms at first floor level would be used for the two children, with a further bedroom for staff.

A report, sent to Lancaster City Council on behalf of Theraputic Care Ltd, said "it is not intended to carry out any external, or internal, works to the property".

The report also says: "There is a known demand for this accommodation in the Lancashire area.

"Accordingly there would be a genuine need to be met in accordance with the agreement with the Social Services authority.

"It is also a fundamental part of the applicant's case that the change of use involved would take place in a way which does not create any adverse effects, including to neighbouring properties.

"The whole purpose and strategy of housing children in care in former dwellinghouses is that it enables the children to be given a home which is as close to a conventional home as possible.

"Although the children would be looked after by staff, the pattern of their lives would be as close to living in a conventional dwellinghouse as can be achieved.

"The children would indeed be vulnerable young people. They will have been taken into care by the Social Services Authority.

"There would be children with particular problems, as there could be in any family dwellinghouse.

"There will be a maximum of two children in the house and both will be selected based on referrals to be mutually supporting and therefore be more akin to family members rather than two separate individuals. The children would be vulnerable and need a safe, caring and stable home environment to be able to thrive.

"They would attend schools in the normal way. They would also attend clubs, societies and other extra-curricular activities just as any other child of a similar age would. There would not be onsite education. The children would either attend a local school or a specialist educational provision that will be identified by the local authority. All aspects of education are provided off site to protect the home environment."

In a letter to Lancaster City Council, Philip Lee, chair of Heysham Neighbourhood Council (HNC), said: "I’ve been approached by a number of residents who live adjacent to this property and they all voice their concerns of its application for a change of use.

"The change from a residential property to one that will be used to house children with behavioural problems in a residential location is deeply distressing to the residents of this area.

"There are a number of issues that I found upsetting about this application.

"First of all, due process hadn’t taken place in regard to public consultation until a number of residents actually contacted the city council planning department after hearing that the property had been sold to Therapeutic Care Ltd.

"Why had there been no public notification regarding this application when the application was first submitted?

"Secondly, there are a number of care homes within the local area, all of which in the past have caused disruption to the local community, many of which still affect the close residents to these homes.

"Thirdly, the area where this care home is proposed is a residential area with an elderly population, with many unwilling to write individually to voice their objections to this application, so whilst this response from HNC is seen within the consultation process as a single objection, it is in fact an objection from many of the resident that would be significantly affected by this proposal.

"As a community organisation that represents the residents of Heysham, we object on behalf of those residents that have been able to contact us to voice their concerns."

Lancashire County Council Commissioning and Children's Health has also provided a response to the planning application.

"Therapeutic Care is a provider that is known to and used by Lancashire County Council," said a county council spokesperson.

"The home is a smaller home that will help meet an identified gap in local provision. We welcome the cascade condition which means that the home will provide a home for Lancashire children."

Lancaster City Council will make a decision on whether to grant permission for the change of use, in due course.

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