New home for children with special needs approved for former Jarrow B&B building - despite more than 100 objections
Earlier this year, Artemis Support Ltd lodged an application to transform a former guesthouse in Bede Burn Road into a residential care home.
The North East care company had previously submitted plans for the site to house five boys aged 5-17 with emotional and behavioural needs, however this was withdrawn in November 2018.
This week, South Tyneside Council’s Planning Committee discussed fresh plans to convert the site into a residential home.
Amended proposals included rooms for four children aged between 10 -18 with learning disabilities, alongside 24-hour staff support.
The police, fire service and council’s parking manager raised no objections to the proposals.
However, the scheme sparked opposition from neighbours with a total of 121 written objections lodged.
Concerns included the layout and location of the property, potential anti-social behaviour from residents, parking issues and increased traffic, noise and disturbance.
Some neighbours also questioned whether the site’s provision could be changed in future to support children with emotional and behavioural needs.
Written statements for and against the plans were presented at a planning meeting on July 20, which was held remotely and broadcast live on YouTube in line with social distancing guidelines.
According to the council’s children and families social care team, there is a lack of care home sites in South Tyneside with many children placed outside the borough.
In a written statement from a Bede Burn Road resident, requests were made for extra conditions for the children’s home.
This included placing children from South Tyneside and only placing youngsters who are not in high risk categories for alcohol, drugs or sexual abuse problems.
While council planners said the conditions would not be enforceable under planning rules, they added further authorisation and checks would be required under ‘children’s home standards’ and by Ofsted.
A statement from agent Lichfields on behalf of Artemis Support Ltd was also read out at the meeting stating the home would be well-managed and in time, an “integral part of the fabric of the community.”
The statement said the proposals would meet a local need for specialist accommodation for children with learning disabilities while creating local jobs.
In addition, the applicant also pledged to maintain dialogue with local residents to “ensure the home and its residents are integrated within the community.”
Although council planners recommended the application for approval, several committee members raised concerns about parking, traffic and amenity space for children at the site.
Cllr Geraldine Kilgour told the meeting: “I actually think the site is in a dangerous parking traffic situation but I have absolutely no reservations about the nature [of the proposals].
“We can’t assume that the children are going to cause or bring harm by their very nature of having a need.
“But I do have significant concerns about SPD6 [parking standards] and I don’t think it’s satisfied and that’s as a resident.”
Cllr Gladys Hobson added: “This is only for four children, its not a large number.
“These children have learning disabilities which are things like autism, down’s syndrome and asperger’s syndrome.
“In the past, these kinds of children would have been institutionalised and because of care in the community, we have to find homes for these children which are suitable for their needs.
“I think this property would be suitable as a home for those children, it’s going to be their home over a long period of time.”
Following discussion, the application was approved by a majority vote of 8-4.
A total of four parking spaces are planned in the rear yard to serve the children’s home. However no objections were lodged from the council’s highways team.