Concern over plans for care home for young in Candlesby

Graham Coupland outside the property in Candlesby which has been bought by Blue Mountain Homes.
Graham Coupland outside the property in Candlesby which has been bought by Blue Mountain Homes.

Residents in Candlesby want planning officials to think again over plans to allow the conversion of a residential property in the village into a children's care home.

Concerns were raised when neighbours researched Blue Mountain Homes and found they ran a site in Derbyshire where skilled staff provide a "supportive and consistent environment" for young people aged 10 to 19 "who display inappropriate sexualised behaviour" and others with "severe emotional and behavioural difficulties".

East Lindsey District Council used delegated powers in January to grant Class C3(b) status to allow the change of use at Fairview in Chalkpit Lane - and at Thursday's planning meeting will decide on an application to increase the size of the property from two bedrooms to four bedrooms.

Blue Mountain Homes say they were invited by Lincolnshire County Council to identify a suitable site in the county - and are "very proud of the difference we make in the lives of the most vulnerable in our society".

However neighbours maintain the property is the wrong site for them.- and claim they knew nothing about the intentions of Blue Mountain Homes until "about three weeks ago".

"My neighbours and myself strongly oppose the development and have already sent a number of letters of objection to the planning department," said neighbour Graham Coupland.

"The proposed extension of the property itself is not, however, the main issue. It is the proposed use of the building that is causing major concern.

"Blue Mountain Homes operate a number of Residential Homes (mainly in the Midlands) that specialize specifically in providing places for young people aged between 10-19 years who

(according to their website) have severe emotional and behavioural difficulties.

"In December 2018 Blue Mountain Homes applied for Fairview to be granted Class C3(b) status, A ‘Certificate of Lawful Use or Development’ was granted in January, using delegated powers.

"None of the local residents were made aware that the application had been made and were, therefore, not given the opportunity to oppose it.

"It may, or may not, be a legal requirement for the Council to inform residents of adjoining properties when applications of this nature are made. I would have thought, however, that common courtesy would dictate that some form of notification, at least to immediate neighbours, might have been expected particularly given the type of development proposed and the residents that are going to be housed there."

Mr Coupland had wanted to address the planning committee about there concerns at the meeting on Thursday, but has been told he may only comment on the extension and not on concerns about change of use.

"If the plans are approved we are prepared to appeal," he said.

P.K. Manaktala, company director of Blue Mountain Homes said: "I accept that it would have been common courtesy for us or our planning agent to make contact with the neighbours with regard to our planning application. This was an oversight on our part.

"There is nearly four hours’ drive away and although we have other residential care homes in Doncaster and New Ollerton and could have sent our Care Director to make contact with the neighbours this was not done at the time.

" In our opinion we have carried out sufficient research as to the suitability of the area to say that it would be a safe, peaceful and suitable location for the care and nurturing of the young people in care.

"We currently have 12 residential care homes operating in this sector. (our website is very old and seems like a task never finishing). 11 out of the 12 homes are rated Outstanding or Good by Ofsted.

"We are very proud of the difference we make in the lives of the most vulnerable in our society who have so often been abused and neglected by the same society.

" Each young person in our care represents some complex issues otherwise they would not be in our care in the first instance.

"There is a massive shortage of provision and the local authorities are having to face the legal implication of this acute shortage as they have a legal duty of care for these vulnerable young people.

"The change we make in the lives of these young people is sometimes massive and some times marginal and we accept that.

"Our experience and basically good common sense have led us to a practice where by we have a number of 4 bedded, 3 bedded, 2 bedded and solo provisions and through a detailed matching process we try our best to match the needs of the young person with the staffing and home size most suitable.

"It is now well established that vulnerable young people progress most in smaller home settings rather than larger institutional size homes.

"It with all these factors in mind that I consider Fairview to be suitable.

"It is a location away from the draw of drugs, red lite and gang culture associated and available of the inner city and all the risk and temptations associated with the inner city.

Mr Coupland makes the very positive comment about this being a peaceful and beautiful and quite area. I do not wish to spoil this at all.

"I hope over time I sincerely will be able to demonstrate that none of these concerns become a reality if a solo or a duo (one young person or at most two young people) home is registered at Fairview.

"I am of the opinion that it is exactly the peace and the beauty these young people need to bring a change in their lives. But in all of this I recognise the genuine concerns of the neighbours.

"I would like to assure Mr Coupland of our commitment to the wellbeing, good behaviour of these young people and being respectful and responsible neighbours and citizens is very much part of the change we wish to bring into the lives of the young people in our care."