By John Baron
Plans to convert a semi-detached property in a Pudsey residential street into to a children’s care home were approved by Leeds councillors today.
Applicant Mr Mohammed Shafiq, a Labour councillor in Bradford, wants the care home on Chatsworth Crescent to accommodate three young people aged eight to 17 years old. Two members of staff would be on site at any one time.
The existing property is a five-bedroom semi-detached dwelling and its existing driveway would be used for parking by staff.
But the proposals have been met with 23 letters of objection and concerns from Councillors Amanda and Andrew Carter (Cons, Calverley & Farsley) who have objections over parking and existing problems with rat-running on the busy street.
Cllr Amanda Carter told the plans panel that the development as a ‘cold and clinical’ commercial venture and expressed wider concern over what she claimed was a national profit-driven care system.
She said recent wider research from the BBC and Guardian showed society’s most vulnerable children were not served as well in private accommodation as they would be in a home run by a charity. “It is frightening that children are cared for in this way,” she added.
The meeting heard from a council planning officer who said the children’s home would be regulated by Ofsted and that the distinction between a private and public-run care home was not a material planning consideration.
Cllr Trish Smith (Cons, Pudsey) said the proposal was ‘not in the right place’. She added: “There are better locations than this.”
But Cllr Paul Wray (Lab, Hunslet) said he was ‘perplexed’ at concerns about the application and said councillors were simply looking at the change of use from a family home to a residential home. He disagreed that there could be more noise than if it was occupied by a family and he said the home would offer a structured and supportive environment for vulnerable children.
“Noise can happen to any sort of family of any size,” added Cllr John Garvani (Lab, Horsforth). “I can’t see any problems with this at all.”
Councillors on the south and west plans panel voted in favour of the application by six votes to three.
A report considered by councillors at Leeds Civic Hall concluded: “The proposal is considered to comply with both national and adopted local planning policy in terms of establishing sustainable development. The application site would operate within a use that would attract occupation and levels of noise and disturbance from comings and goings, akin to those that could reasonably and likely occur if a family resided at this address.
“The size of the building and its grounds provides suitable accommodation for three residents and the on-site staff. There is sufficient on-site parking for staff and visitors and the site is located within a sustainable location.”
The full agenda and report can be found here.