Rochester East and Warren Wood Ward
Change of use of residential dwelling (Class C3) to a children's care home (Class C2) together with access ramp with railings front and rear and new pedestrian access and gate - resubmission of MC/22/0593.
The Chief Planning Officer outlined the application in detail for the change of use of residential dwelling (Class C3) to a children's care home (Class C2) together with access ramp with railings front and rear and new pedestrian access and gate and confirmed that it was a resubmission of MC/22/0593 with internal changes proposed to address the previous refusal.
The Chief Planning Officer explained that in the supplementary agenda advice sheet, the Head of Children’s Services Commissioning had emailed to advise that the applicant had not been in contact with them and as a result they were unable to either support or object to the application.
The Chief Planning Officer clarified that the applicant had submitted amended plans which resized the bedrooms to make them larger. This application would provide accommodation, 1 to 1 support and 24-hour care for two young people (aged up to 17) and it was proposed that 2 live in carers would reside at the property for seven nights straight to minimise the movement in and out of the property. There was no off street parking available, however as only the carers would require parking, it was considered it would not impact parking in the local area as there would be no greater demand on parking than the current residential use.
With the agreement of the Committee, Councillor Osborne addressed the Committee as Ward Councillor and raised the following concerns:
The Committee discussed the planning application noting the concerns raised by the Ward Councillor.
In the report it stated the children would require 1 to 1 care, this could mean the Looked After Child (LAC) could be more vulnerable and would require additional support, however this Committee was determining the application only on material planning considerations.
The Chief Planning Officer clarified that the ramp proposed at the rear of the property was due to the sloped garden. He explained that the applicant had stated they may, in the future, consider having children with emotional or behavioural disorders and this ramp would assist with this. Access to the property would be from the front.
The Head of Children’s Services Commissioning clarified that corporately and nationally they were moving away from large children’s homes as they found them not conducive. Bringing it back to the needs of each young person, it was deemed that they needed smaller children’s homes. Each children’s home would require the appointment of a registered manager and a deputy manager.
The Head of Children’s Services Commissioning stated that he could not guarantee that Medway children would be given these spaces.
Regarding the Ward Councillor comments about Kent Police, the Chief Planning Officer confirmed that Kent Police had not made any comments and therefore no information was written in the report. If Members were minded to approve this planning application, additional conditions for CCTV, lighting and fencing could be included.
The Head of Children’s Services Commissioning explained that the process from a property receiving planning permission to being an approved care home would take time. The applicant would apply to Ofsted, a registered Manager that had experience working in that area, would be appointed. A Statement of Purpose would be submitted to Ofsted which would indicate the level of need, how many bedrooms, whether it was a home for children with Neurodiverse needs and whether they could narrow or widen the age range. Ofsted would then carry out due diligence and arrange for a scheduled visit to undertake an independent inspection of the property. This could take up to 9 months. If Ofsted do not approve the application, then the children’s home cannot open.
Approved with conditions 1 to 5 as set out in the report for the reasons stated in the report and an additional condition be added to include the recommendations of Kent Police. Final wording to be agreed with the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Opposition Spokespersons.