Nestlings Care, which provides residential places for children and young adults with mental health issues and learning disabilities had applied for a change of use for a property in Woodhall Lane to become a care home for three 16-25-year-olds, with dedicated staff on site.
The application had attracted objections from locals, who claimed it would cause a noise nuisance, and subsequently went before the council’s south and west plans panel.
A Mr Cook, who lives near to the site, told the meeting that restrictive covenants had been placed on the property that the house can not be used for purposes which might prove to be “an annoyance” to neighbours. He also added that “unknown people requiring rehabilitation” could put young and elderly people in the area at risk.
He told the meeting: “We would ask that plans panel refuses the application outright on the grounds that the change of use would present a significant greater increase in traffic activity, noise and disturbance, breach the restrictive covenant, while putting the young, vulnerable people in the property at risk from the local environment, and the dangers of the surrounding highways and networks and, possibly, putting local young and elderly residents at risk from the unknown people requiring rehabilitation.”
A report into the application stated the care home would accommodate young people who have a varying range of conditions, including autism, Asperger’s syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and trauma; who require rehabilitation following discharge from hospital so that they can return to family homes or live independently.
Dr Faeza Khan, a clinical psychiatrist and director of Nestlings Care, passionately responded: “I have been working for 22 years at a specialist field. This business is not about moneymaking, it is about passion.
“When I see these young people in hospital and they cannot be discharged for two years just because, in their local area, there is no place where they can be looked after and they cannot return home.
“At the moment, I have three young people from this area, but they are in Manchester and can’t see their families. They are like other children – they are like my two boys. They have the same right to the quality of life.
“Just because they have mental health problems, it does not mean they should be discriminated or segregated from the community.
“I appreciate that nobody wants nuisance next door, shouting or antisocial behaviour, but the young people in hospital who are there because of these reasons have a right to come back into the community.
“We would not bring a young person into the community if we felt they were unsafe.
“I get very frustrated when I have to say the basic thing that we have to give back to our community.”
She added that the organisation’s four similar homes had not received a single complaint about antisocial behaviour in five years.
Coun Paul Wray (Lab, Hunslet and Riverside) told Dr Khan: “What you’re proposing seems reasonable. There are no reasons under planning law to say we shouldn’t.”
The proposals were met with unanimous approval by members of the panel.