A former guesthouse in Cheadle is to be converted into a residential home for children. Plans for the change of use were debated by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s (SMDC) planning applications committee on Thursday (June 25). Halliwell Homes were given the green light to turn Park View Guest House in Mill Road, into a facility for children who have experienced the trauma of abuse and neglect, separation and loss.
A former guesthouse in Cheadle is to be converted into a residential home for children.
Plans for the change of use were debated by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s (SMDC) planning applications committee on Thursday (June 25).
Halliwell Homes were given the green light to turn Park View Guest House in Mill Road, into a facility for children who have experienced the trauma of abuse and neglect, separation and loss.
The site includes the guesthouse – a large red-brick Victorian former residence and care home in the front part – as well as a part two-storey, part single-storey flat-roofed modern addition to the rear.
The application was for change of use from guest house to residential care home for children, a ‘link’ extension between the old building and the modern addition as well as a single-storey extension at the rear of the modern block to provide a staff room and replace a solid outbuilding on the corner of the site.
The plans were debated at SMDC’s first virtual planning applications committee meeting held via video conferencing software.
Cheadle Town Mayor, councillor Ian Plant asked for the application to be withdrawn, citing concerns over lack of consultation for residents and the town council. He said: “I ask that this application be withdrawn from today’s meeting. It has since come to my attention that the residents have not received the appropriate notification for this application.”
He claimed residents near to the property had not received notification of the plans by letter and that he had been unable to see a site notice in Mill Road, Baddeley Street or Young Street.
Cllr Plant also raised concerns that Cheadle Town Council had been unable to respond to a consultation request from SMDC due to no meetings taking place during the lockdown period.
Planning officer at SMDC, Ben Haywood, explained the council had received the plans in March, but had been delayed making a decision due to Covid-19.
He also said the council had put a site notice outside Park View Guesthouse and had posted letters to more residents than required by law – exceeding statutory requirements.
When asked about Cheadle Town Council being unable to comment on the proposals due to the Covid-19 restrictions, he added: “We have fulfilled the council’s statutory requirements as concerns consulting with them, there is nothing legally, that I’m aware of, that requires us to have a comment from the town council before we can proceed to a determination.”
As the council had fulfilled its legal requirements, the application could be heard at the meeting and public speakers were invited to give their thoughts before elected councillors debated the proposals.
Cllr Plant spoke again as a member of the public, raising concerns around the historic guest house and its potential place within the Cheadle Master Plan, which cites the need for hotel accommodation in the town. He said: “Taking away a guesthouse, which takes away tourism and business from the town, in my view, is not the right way forward.”
Three speakers – Ken Wainman, Eric Marchbanks, Karen Mitchell-Mellor – all spoke in favour of the application. Mr Wainman said: “Fundamental to all three objections is the supposition that children in care are automatically anti-social. This is not the case.”
Halliwell Homes is a social enterprise and bought the Park View Guest House for £500,000.
Owner Karen Mitchell-Mellor said: “The children we help and care for are not anti-social. They are children that have been subject to abuse and need help to reintegrate into the community.
“At all times out of the house they will be accompanied by a trained member of staff, even when they are at school where we provide a high level teaching assistant to help and work with all children while one of our children is settling in.
“Our existing homes are in residential areas and none of our 31 children have a record of anti-social behaviour.
“Halliwell’s aim is to offer the same life chances and choices for the children leaving our programme as for any other child who is placed in the community.”
Four objections and one letter of support were lodged with SMDC as part of the consultation process.
During the debate, it was proposed the decision be deferred to allow Cheadle Town Council to comment, however councillor Ian Whitehouse from Cheadle said: “The first meeting was ten weeks after lockdown, so Cheadle Town Council had ten weeks to report on this.”
A further proposal to grant planning permission received eight votes in favour, two against and one abstention. The permission was granted.
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