Lancaster residents raise concerns over plans for Scale Hall house to be turned into care home offering 'place of safety' for young person
Plans for a house to be converted into a care home for a child with complex needs have been met with concerns from nearby residents in Scale Hall.
Esland Care has applied to change a detached property in Penrhyn Road into a care home for one child aged from seven to 18.
Esland are a leading UK provider of residential childcare and educational services for children who have experienced trauma and significant unrest in their lives.
According to their website, they provide a place of safety from which they can build meaningful connections and positive relationships.
The children the group supports often have had adverse childhood experiences and as a result cannot live with their parents.
Their homes provide "nurturing environments with wraparound care and support", and their solo homes have been created "to meet the needs of very complex children and young people".
However, many residents living around the Scale Hall area have expressed concerns about the plans.
They have met with Skerton West councillors Mandy King and Jean Parr to raise their issues, and a meeting with Esland Care is also due to be held for concerned residents at the Vale of Lune Rugby Club on Thursday June 10 from 6pm.
Residents' concerns include the fact that Penrhyn Road is a thoroughfare to various nurseries and schools such as Scale Hall, Busy Bees, Tiny Treasures, Grosvenor Park, Ryelands, The Loyne, Morecambe Road, Torrisholme and Our Lady's Catholic College.
"We feel it would be detrimental to the community if these plans were passed," one resident said.
"If a child cannot be housed with other children, then why is it acceptable to place them in homes surrounded by families with young children?
"As a community we think it is appalling that local residents were not informed about this company and the plans that were submitted."
Other residents have voiced their concerns to the city council, with many saying the residential location is inappropriate, and the plans would impact on the local residents who are mainly families with young children and elderly people.
"This street has many young and vulnerable children living here and may eventually affect house prices in this area," one said.
"This location is not suitable and I fear for the safety of my children," another resident said.
Another wrote: "We don't know what type of kids will stay there, that will increase the anti-social behavior. This child could have suffered damaging trauma or have a history of mental illness or violence or be a sex offender."
And another resident said: "Over the years we have fought hard to keep the area as a friendly helpful community, which is extremely difficult with the present times we live in.
"Someone who obviously doesn't know the area has put in for this application without any thought for the residents that would be housed there or the surrounding residents as houses in this area are usually purchased by people with young children or have elderly vulnerable residents that have lived here for all/most of their married life.
"Converting one of the dwellings in order to house troubled children is likely to attract anti-social behaviour and ruin what is currently a perfectly nice neighbourhood.
"Whilst I am aware the children are vulnerable and need to be rehabilitated, this should be in a rural setting away from other homes and in particular other children."
Other concerns included an increase in traffic, increased police visits to the site, parking issues, excessive noise and potential disturbance resulting from the children's behaviour, and the potential impact and disruption on the community.
However, the proposals have also been supported by some residents.
"I believe no negative issues can arise from this application and the opportunities offered can make such a great impact to people's lives," one resident wrote.
Another said: "I feel this is discrimination if the child is not given the opportunity to live here, a child deserves a happy protected life, the best life possible and I feel this could be given to them in our community.
"It makes me sad that someone would reject a child who may have experienced trauma and may have additional needs from a loving community."
The owner of the property also submitted a letter of support to the council, saying the privacy and area for the home was ideal and "an opportunity for children with nowhere else to go".
"I really hope this decision is going to give a child a chance in a community as it should do, as a community we should accept everyone," he said.
And former Morecambe councillor Joshua Brandwood said: “After reading the abhorrent prejudicial and discriminatory views by those opposing the plans, I am left feeling disappointed and appalled.
"Our community has always been kind, supporting and welcoming to individuals from all different walks of life. The views shared by those opposing the plans do not reflect the views of the wider community.
"Ostracising an individual based on their background sets an incredibly dangerous precedent.
"It’s so important as a community to support the young person in question. So many assumptions have already been made, despite nobody knowing them personally.
"It’s heartbreaking to think the young person due to be re-homed will see the negative comments and feel even more anxious and let down.
"We need to pull together as a community and show the individual they are welcome.”
Esland say they spend a long time engaging with a range of local stakeholders (including social workers, police, local authorities and local communiities) to look for suitable homes for their children, carefully matching the young people and their needs to place them in safe, supportive areas of a community.
They undergo rigorous checks with key regulators (including Ofsted) to ensure that their homes comply with regulatory standards at all times.
All their children are looked after by qualified and experienced care professionals trained to deal with their individual needs and who are often employed from within our local communities.
Esland currently have more than 40 homes around the UK, and say they have seen no evidence that opening homes within any of these communities has had a detrimental impact on house prices in the area.
A spokesperson for Esland Care said: “We look forward to the opportunity to speak to the residents from Penrhyn Road, and hope to allay any concerns they may have.
"Esland Care strives to provide the highest quality care to the vulnerable children and young people who are placed with us, and ensure they become valued members of the communities in which they live.
"Our number one priority is to provide the children and young people in our care with the support they need to ensure that they can look forward to a bright future when they leave our homes.”