Young care leavers’ home gets approval

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A HOME for young people leaving care to be based in Bedgrove has been approved by Aylesbury Vale District Council despite concerns raised by the local member and residents.

The site, which has operated for the last 12 years as a bed and breakfast without appropriate planning permission, would accommodate up to six 16 to 18-year-olds leaving either foster care or a children’s home for anything between three months and two years.

The property in Wendover Road will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by two members of staff at a time, who will provide guidance and help those staying there learn independent living skills before they move out.

Many are likely to be vulnerable due to their backgrounds and a high level of support will be provided, including equipping one bedroom for use by a disabled young person.

Councillor Tom Hunter-Watts said: “These people need support and care and this is a good application that we should support.”

However, local member for Bedgrove Mark Winn wrote to the council suggesting it was not an appropriate site due to concerns about detrimental effects on the privacy and peace and quiet of the area.

A neighbouring resident also raised the issue of potential financial implications for adjoining properties and the nature of people who might visit the house.

They said: “These young adults and their estranged families are now free to rekindle their ties hence these individuals not fit to bring up their own children will be free to enter my young families [sic] immediate environment.”

But Denise Gibbs, who will help run the home but had no involvement with the property’s previous use, said any visitors would have to book ahead and be supervised, with advice taken from social services when family members or friends suspected of being a bad influence ask to visit.

Ms Gibbs said two visitors will be allowed at any one time for up to two hours and no overnight guests will be permitted.

She said a curfew will be put in place and CCTV installed at the front of the building and in communal areas.

Ms Gibbs added there would be a “family” atmosphere in the home and that young people would hopefully remain there for a long time, rather than constantly changing.

Most of the people staying there will be from the local area or returning to be near their family or other support networks.

A report by case officer Claire Harrison said: “The proposed change of use is considered to be acceptable in principle and is not considered to be harmful to the residential or visual amenity of the surrounding occupiers or area.”