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6th Jul, 2022

Children's home plan thrown out by councillors

Malvern Editorial 28th Mar, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A PROPOSAL for a children’s home in Pickersleigh has been thrown out by councillors to the relief of residents who branded it a ‘ticking time bomb’.

Members of the district council’s Southern Area Development Management Committee voted against the plans last Wednesday after fears it would increase crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.

The applicant Priya Mehra had formally proposed to change the use of the building in Pickersleigh Grove from a house to a children’s home.

It would have accommodated up to five 11 to 16 year olds with ‘challenging behavioural problems’ such as drug abuse, disputes with their parents or youngsters in need of emergency asylum. West Mercia Police’s crime risk assessor said the children would likely be drawn into existing crime in the area which is already higher than anywhere else in the district and concluded their behaviour may have a ‘knock-on’ effect in the neighbourhood.

More than 120 residents had opposed the application. Richard Spilsbury of Pickersleigh Grove speaking on their behalf said: “This is a time bomb that’s started ticking.

“The elderly are worried about going outside even to their own gardens and parents are apprehensive over what their children will see, hear and learn from these inmates.

“There is a real anxiety over an increase in anti-social behaviour and crime. You would be hard pressed to find a more unsuitable location.”

Coun Bronwen Behan also argued the home would be better suited to a rural area after highlighting how a similar service in her own ward had caused problems prompting a liaison group of members of the community to address the issues.

Pickersleigh councillor Val Myatt said the fear of crime was a ‘significant’ issue and police had already moved to up patrols in the ward and were making good progress.

She added: “It is unfair to home them in Pickersleigh which is the area of highest need in our district.

“We have had the closure of two crack houses in the near vicinity in recent months.

“The local public fear of crime arising from this application is evident. Anti-social behaviour is falling here. We need to maintain the public confidence that crime will continue to fall. Approval of this application will be a backward step.”

Miss Mehra had reassured the individuals at the home would be supervised at all time when they were not in school and said their placement could be terminated if they became involved in crime. The youngsters would also have has a ‘buddy’ who had completed the programme as well as support from a social worker.

The home would also have been under the jurisdiction of Ofsted.

“We aim to transform lives not judge. All children and young people have the right to be healthy, happy, safe, loved, valued and respected and to have high aspirations for their future.”

Planning officers recommended approval saying their was no evidence to suggest crime levels would increase but councillors voted in favour of Coun Myatt’s move for refusal.

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