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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Adult care home approved

'We're not being asked to approve a prison here' - councillor hits out over objections to care home for adults

A councillor expressed exasperation at objections to a care home for adults with learning difficulties, noting, “We’re not being asked to approve a prison here”.

Berwick Hills councillor, Ian Blades, made the comments amid concerns over potential “noise” in the garden of the care home as well as suggestions it would negatively impact on the “peace and harmony” of the area. Last year, Coventry-based Courtyard Care Ltd was granted planning permission convert a large property on Low Lane in Acklam into a residential care facility for up to six children aged between seven and 18.

Cllr Ian Blades Image: Middlesbrough Council

However a planning application was later submitted for a change of use to allow the home to instead accommodate adults. The council’s planning and development committee met on Thursday to discuss the proposed variation.

In written objections to the scheme, Kader councillors Sharon and Jim Platt said homes in the area of Low Lane were predominantly occupied by elderly residents. They expressed concern those residents would be “frightened and worried” living close to young adults with “challenging issues”.

“This proposed shift could have a significant impact on the peace and harmony of our community,” they said. “Increased noise levels, disturbances, and potential conflicts arising from the change could disrupt the peaceful co-existence we currently enjoy, causing distress to existing residents and affecting property values.”

Stainton and Thornton councillor David Coupe said there was lack of children’s homes in the area and children would have been supervised at all times whereas adults “could come and go as they please”. A representative for Courtyard Care said the proposal to change the use from a children’s home to accommodate adults in care was a response to “commissioning priorities” from adults social care services.

He said the home for the adults would be supervised 24/7, noting the adults living there were expected to have learning difficulties and disabilities such as autism. The aim was to give the residents “as normal a life as possible”, he said.

The company would be “mindful” of their neighbours and any “potential disturbance” would be managed, he added. Addressing the meeting, Cllr Jim Platt suggested it was unfair to place the home in an area where 89 per cent of residents pay council tax compared to around half in other areas of Middlesbrough.

He also noted the Coventry-based company running the home company would house six adults at a cost of more than £5,600 per week, costing the council £1.75m a year. “We are making cuts all over the place and making people redundant and we are now sending all this money to Coventry,” he said.

Newport councillor, Jill McEwan said: “Where do people want these young people to live instead? Should they be put in the town centre near the drug dealers?”

Cllr Blades said: “We are not asking the committee to approve a prison here. They have learning difficulties, they are not going to put these people in a house and lock their rooms.

“I really do struggle with some of the comments.” Four councillors voted in favour of the variation, three against while two abstained and the proposal was approved.

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