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Care home conversion approved despite concerns from councillors

A care institution for at-risk young people will move into a house in Wellington, despite the local councillor’s concern that the building is unsuitable and in an “inappropriate location”.

Unity Residential Care Facilities applied to change the use of the newly-built detached home on Holyhead Road, and Telford and Wrekin’s planning committee voted in favour by a majority.

Ercall ward councillor Miles Hosken asked the committee to defer or refuse the application outright, citing “problems with the water-course and drainage”, which are subject to ongoing legal action.

Unity consultant Matt Wilcox, who applied for the change of use, said standard surveys would be carried out at the house, and “we don’t believe that they are issues that would compromise the intended use of the house”.

In the application form, Mr Wilcox wrote that no physical alterations were proposed, and the detached property would be occupied by up to three seven- to 17-year-olds.

“Children who live there will do so because they are in the care of the local authority and may have experienced family breakdown or other risk factors that may have put them in danger,” he wrote.

“The purpose is to provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment, much like any family home.”

He told the committee that the Staffordshire-based company had been rated “good” and “outstanding” by Ofsted in the past, and said children from Telford were currently being sent as far as Scotland for care of a similar standard.

Cllr Hosken said the house, which was recently built and has not yet been occupied, was given planning permission on the basis that it would be a normal residence.

“I believe the builder needed a quick sale, which inadvertently led to it being purchased by a business,” he said.

Mr Wilcox said Unity paid the full asking price and rejected the description of the house as a “business premises”.

“There will be a very small home office, but besides that it will be very much conducive to a home environment,” he said.

Committee member Peter Scott said many of the issues raised by Cllr Hosken were “blown out of all proportion”, would be the same if a five-person family moved in to the house.

Councillor Ian Fletcher, who represents Priorslee, said he knew of two similar institutions in his ward.

He said: “There have been considerable problems with the number of vehicles going in and out, and also the residents going in and out, and absconding, which involves representatives from the social services and the police being involved.”

The Telford and Wrekin Council Planning Committee voted 5-3 in favour of the proposal.

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