Change of use plans for Elmbank House in Berwick approved despite concerns raised

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A planning application in the Berwick area that attracted 29 objections, but also 10 letters supporting the bid, has been approved.

Horizons Residential Care Ltd applied to Northumberland County Council to turn a guest house at Elmbank House in Spittal into accommodation for up to five vulnerable children/young people.

It says in its planning statement that it ‘will not be a secure home, nor a home for a young person being placed under any criminal orders’, but concerns were raised by local residents including safety, the suitability of the area for such accommodation and the belief there could be no guarantee that the children would behave and not cause any distress to elderly and/or vulnerable residents.

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However, the proposal has been given the green light by planning officers under delegated powers.

Elmbank House in Spittal. Picture by Google.Elmbank House in Spittal. Picture by Google.
Elmbank House in Spittal. Picture by Google.

Their report included the following: “The impact of the proposed use of the building on the amenity of neighbouring residential properties and upon general public safety has been carefully considered under this planning application.

“The council's Environmental Protection (EP) team, who consider issues such as noise and impact upon amenity, have been consulted on this application and having reviewed the submitted information, have no comments to make on this application.”

The building is a large six-bedroom property and the change of use will not alter the existing building footprint or layout. Horizons says the home would be licenced by Ofsted, staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and be overseen and managed on a day-to-day basis by a registered manager.

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Summarising both sides of the argument, the planning officers report also states: “29 objection comments have been received with regard to this application. The objections raise a variety of concerns.

“Several raised concerns that the change of use would represent a danger to neighbouring properties, livestock and the local residents. Other objections felt that the proposed residential accommodation would be better suited in a different location, as the location would be dangerous due to nearby cliffs, the railway line and a holiday park.

“Ten comments have been submitted in support on the grounds that the area is very much in need of a service such as this, that the application is doing a very good thing and that it will have no impact on the local residents or the surrounding area.”

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