Express & Star

Plans for children's home which would 'would harm neighbours' living conditions' blocked again

A government inspector has sided with the council in blocking a move to convert a house into a children’s home.

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Sandwell Council refused permission to convert the house in Barston Road, Oldbury, into a children’s residential home for up to three children last year.

Heartled Children’s Residential Care, the company looking to run the home, appealed to the government’s planning inspectors in a bid to get the decision overturned but was rejected a second time.

The planning inspectors said the increased ‘comings and goings’ from the proposed children’s home would be too noisy and disruptive for neighbours.

The council had already approved a side extension and loft conversion at the Barston Road home but then rejected the move to turn it into a children’s home.

Nine neighbours had objected to the plans when they were put forward at the start of 2023 – with residents worried about a potential rise in anti-social behaviour as well as noise and parking issues.

The planning inspector sided with the council and said “frequent comings and goings” by children, staff, social workers and other visitors would cause too much disruption for the existing neighbours.

The planning inspector said: “I note the council raises concern over the use of three floors which could lead to noise and disturbance issues to neighbouring occupiers.

“However, the dense residential character of the wider area means that a home occupied by a large family would not be unusual, especially in a large five-bedroom home. There is therefore no evidence to suggest that there would be an increase in noise and disturbance from the property itself above that of a normal large family home.

“Notwithstanding my findings on noise and disturbance from inside the property itself, I conclude that the proposed development would harm the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers with regard to noise and disturbance from the frequent comings and goings.”

The council had rejected the application for the same reason – saying the extra people in the home would be “very noticeable” to neighbours.

“Whilst there would be no obvious physical features that distinguish the property from a normal family dwelling, there would be other notable differences in its use,” a report outlining the council’s refusal said.

“These differences included staff change-over, early in the morning and late in the evening, weekdays and weekends. This would be very noticeable to neighbouring occupiers, marking the property as something other than a dwelling house. It may also result in a number of vehicles being parked at the property at any one time including carers, a manager and other professionals visiting the site.

“Concerns are compounded by the activity being distributed over three floors and the impact regarding noise and disturbance to the attached neighbour."