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Neighbours fear ’30-year-battle’ to stop children’s home in their…

Young child hiding its face
The home would look after young people with a range of problems

Plans to convert a house into a care home for children with challenging behaviour have been blocked – for the third time. Officials refused to allow the conversion of the property in Gainsborough Drive, Beltinge, after deciding Horizon Care had still not provided enough information to back up its case.

The company argued that the home was similar to a family home and so did not need planning permission, but neighbours argued that the facts it had staff working shifts, would be used for meetings and would have alarms on the bedroom doors, disproved this.

The latest decision to refuse does not mean the end of the issue, and residents fear they could face years of battling to keep their street residential. Linda Sutherland, who has lived in the street for 28 years, said:

Horizon’s business is to care for the most difficult and challenging in the care system, and to have three of these children living together in one house is a material change from a normal dwelling house.

Neighbour Sue Walsh added:

Is there a limit to the number of applications or have we a 30-year fight on our hands? This proposal is really for a profit-making, residential care home. The staff are not living, but working on a rota basis at the address. They are unrelated to each other.

The children to be cared for are not related to each other, and some of them will be there for short-term periods. The children are not from Kent. Also, there are some dangerous, crumbling, sandstone cliffs nearby which attract local teenagers who ‘dare’ themselves to climb them. Therefore, this is not a location where I would consider placing vulnerable young people.

Documents submitted by Horizon Care say the home would offer crisis care as well as residential placements for children aged between 10 and 17. The application to Canterbury City Council says:

We aim to provide a period of stability and respite to allow young people to reflect on their difficulties and make future plans based on a comprehensive assessment of their social, emotional/behavioural, physical and educational needs and a dynamic care plan.

We specialise in caring for young people who are behaviourally challenging and emotionally vulnerable, who cannot cope in other types of provision. Our aim is to create a warm and caring environment where young people can come to terms with their past and prepare for the future in a setting that meets their individual needs and cares for them in a non-institutional way.

The firm could submit another application for a certificate of lawful use, or a full planning application.