Appeal lodged after new Northumberland children's home refused planning permission

An appeal has been lodged over controversial plans for a new children’s home in Northumberland which were turned down by councillors earlier this year.

By Ben O'Connell
Monday, 1st February 2021, 5:00 pm

Action for Children’s application to change the use of a house on the eastern edge of Guide Post had been recommended for approval at the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council meeting in February, having been deferred two months before to seek more information.

The charity’s proposal is to use the four-bedroom East Farm Cottage, which it has already purchased, to house three eight to 18-year-olds, with the focus being eight to 12-year-olds, while the fourth bedroom would be for a member of staff.

At the meeting, Keith Darling, on behalf of the 34 objectors, said: “These proposals will undermine the quality of life currently enjoyed by the residents and blight the community; this is a material planning consideration.”

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The property in Guide Post which was proposed to be converted into a children’s home. Picture by Ben O’Connell

The scheme was eventually turned down by six votes to three on the basis of highway safety, the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour, and the lack of parking.

Planning manager Liz Sinnamon cautioned against this, warning that the council could end up being responsible for the applicant’s costs at appeal.

This was because the council’s highways officer had no objections, while a similar case elsewhere in the region, which was refused based on police concerns about anti-social behaviour, was overturned on appeal due to lack of evidence. In this case, the police had not even expressed any concerns.

The outcome will now be decided by a planning inspector after the charity submitted an appeal in late May, which includes an application for the full costs.

The appeal statement of case concludes: ‘We submit that the refusal reasons given were unfounded and additional information available during the determination of the application was available to satisfactorily address each reason.’

It adds: ‘There has been no evidence provided to suggest that these vulnerable children would generate crime or anti-social behaviour.

‘It is conjecture to assume that these children will cause an increase in crime and should not be listed as a reason for refusal.’

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