BACKED PLANS: Children’s care home approved amid objections
A home in Iveston Avenue, on the Newcastle Great Park, which will become a children's home, Image: Newcastle City Council
Councillors have backed plans to open a new children’s home on the Newcastle Great Park after dismissing “obscene” and “spurious” objections from locals.
A family home on the huge housing estate in the north of the city will be turned into a care facility for two youngsters, under plans approved by Newcastle City Council on Friday.
The Iveston Avenue plans had sparked fears among other Great Park residents that the conversion could create parking chaos and anti-social behaviour from the children living there, as well as devaluing neighbouring properties.
Alongside the 28 objections from residents, Castle ward Lib Dem councillor Ali Avaei claimed that the scheme would harm “residents’ peace, tranquillity and health” and that the street would “struggle to take on any extra traffic without major disruption”.
Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell also intervened on behalf of her constituents, telling the council that they feared the care home “monopolising” parking spaces and questioned the viability of the future care provider’s business.
But the plans were unanimously approved by the authority’s planning committee on Friday, with Labour councillor Paula Holland saying she was “quite angry” at the furore and that the concerns over an influx of new parking problems were “quite obscene” given the vast number of cars already on the Great Park.
She added: “We have a duty to provide homes for children in our care. We want those homes to be ordinary homes, we don’t want them housed up in great blocks with barbed wire around them.”
Council planning officers said that the comings and goings at the care home would be no different to a typical four-bedroom detached house, with carers changing shifts at 8am and 8pm.
And while concerns were raised about the relative inexperience and “vast expansion plans” of an unnamed Northamptonshire-based organisation that will run the home, the council said any issues would be a matter for Ofsted or other care authorities rather than for a planning committee.
Coun Gerry Keating remarked that while there was anxiety among locals about the scheme, an assessment of its merits based on planning rules outweighed the “various irrelevant, immaterial, spurious arguments which have been constructed”.
Fellow Liberal Democrat Doreen Huddart expressed concern that another children’s home in the North Heaton area had previously caused problems with noise, anti-social behaviour, and drunkenness from older children.
But Byker Labour councillor Stephen Sheraton hit back that committee members must not “set out with a prejudice like that” without any actual evidence that similar problems could arise from the new development.
Words: Daniel Holland, Local Democracy Reporter
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