Fear of crime puts block on care home in village

In concluding that the change of use of a five-bedroom dwelling in Durham to a care home for children aged 11 to 17 is likely to generate a fear of crime in the local community, an inspector has rejected the appellant's claim that management of the facility is not a planning matter.

In addition to four children, two carers would live at the property. The appellant stated that the home would serve a 25-mile radius catchment area, with children in need of care being drawn from various local authorities. Day-to-day running would be controlled by Ofsted, which would ensure that the home did not give rise to antisocial behaviour or fear of crime.

While finding the evidence inconclusive, the inspector was prepared to accept that there was a need for the facility, despite the county council's statement that it would not send children to the home. However, local residents cited incidents at a comparable care home in a nearby village and the police authority reported that this facility had led to a significant increase in crime.

Although the other facility catered for more children, the inspector decided that the change of use would be likely to raise the fear of crime in the village and it was not clear that on-site management would ensure that this was mitigated to an acceptable level. This concern was sufficient to justify dismissing the appeal, he concluded.

Inspector: Martin Seaton; Written representations

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