Plans for a children’s home among the businesses and restaurants of Swansea’s Oystermouth Road have been approved.
Many people in the area had objected to the change of use proposal, and the council’s cabinet member for education, Cllr Jennifer Raynor, urged Swansea’s planning committee to defer a decision when it met on May 4 in order for more information to be gathered.
The committee had already deferred a decision, partly in order to hear more about the potential impact of the privately-run home on specialist services in Swansea.
A number of committee members remained troubled by a submission from the council’s social services department, which said there was surplus children home capacity in the county, and that the department would be unlikely to place any Swansea children in the home because it didn’t consider Oystermouth Road a safe location.
A petition from objectors claimed that drug use and anti-social behaviour is prevalent in the vicinity, and that putting a children’s home in such a spot is the wrong thing to do.
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The application also prompted letters of support, with those in favour saying the children would be cared for, nurtured, and have great access to Swansea beach and various activities.
Council planning officers recommended the change of use application – from residential to children’s home – for approval. The committee was told that the home would have to be registered by Care Inspectorate Wales, and that the points raised by social services would not be a good reason to refuse permission.
The terraced home would look after up to five eight to 14-year-olds, with one-to-one support provided.
Addressing the planning committee, Joseph Pasha, in support of the application, said: “The reason we want to open this home is to make a solid difference.”
A small yard area at the rear of the building would be used as a play area with two parking spaces provided for staff.
Cllr Mary Jones described the confined yard as “a nonsense” and queried why only two spaces were earmarked when one-to-one support for up to five children was needed.
Cllr June Burtonshaw said she was concerned about children at the home trying to run across Oystermouth Road to access the beach.
Cllrs Des Thomas, Mike Lewis, Will Evans and Cyril Anderson said the committee needed to look at the application on its merits, in planning terms, with Cllr Thomas saying that members would need to put forward grounds for refusal if they were minded to turn the scheme down.
After further comments from planning and highways officers, the committee voted in favour of the application by six votes to four with one abstention.