Wolverhampton children's home plan approved despite neighbourhood concerns

Residents plagued by louts pushing fireworks through their letterboxes have spoken out about their fears.

The vacant former Mirage Youth Centre in Pendeford, Wolverhampton. Photo: Google Street View
The vacant former Mirage Youth Centre in Pendeford, Wolverhampton. Photo: Google Street View

It comes after approval was granted for a former youth centre nearby to be turned into a children’s residential home in Wolverhampton.

People living near Howland Close in Pendeford claim the area is rife with youngsters committing criminal damage and also regular incidents of drug use.

However, despite their concerns over the possibility of increasing anti-social behaviour, council planners on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for the old Mirage Youth Centre building to be converted into a nine-bedroom residential home for up to six children with learning difficulties.

Speaking on behalf of residents, Councillor Louise Miles, said: “We’re not the kind of community that wouldn’t give support to children in need.

"With regard to this application there are several unresolved issues and the community is unhappy with what is proposed.

“Unfortunately, the history of the previous youth centre is not a positive memory for residents, with fireworks pushed through letterboxes and things of that nature.

“I’ve read the papers that relate to the use and the nature of the provision and the type of children it is envisaged will be in this residential home.

“There are some concerns in the neighbourhood and amongst the residents about the suitability of that particular site for these particular children.

“I think the paperwork says that no children with high levels of crime will be residents and no children who have committed arson.

“But apart from that there is a wide range of anti-social behaviour that concerns the residents, particularly because this is a well-known area for anti-social behaviour in the field leading down to the canal, including drug use.”

Planning bosses received four individual letters of objection and a further letter signed by six people.

Issues raised included fears of crime and anti-social behaviour from children living in the home, disruption and road safety fears caused by the coming and going of staff and visitors’ cars, noise disturbances and parking concerns.

Planning Officer Jennifer Nicholds said: “This premises has been vacant for some time now, but any disturbance to neighbours from cars coming and going would not be considerably different to that of the youth centre when it was open, or a residential household of that size.

“The building is detached and not directly adjacent to any homes. A planting scheme has been submitted and there will therefore be no adverse impact to neighbour amenity in terms of noise or privacy.

“This would provide a service to children in need of care and bring an empty building back into good use. A number of internal changes will need to be made to create the en-suite bedrooms – six for children and three for staff.

“The children living here will be under 24-hour care from staff who will be trained and qualified in line with Ofsted requirements,” she added.

The proposal was moved by Councillor Celia Hibbert and seconded by Councillor Phil Page.

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