RESIDENTS are concerned over plans to create a residential care home for children in a Taunton village.
A number of people living near the proposed site, in Shutewater Orchard, Bishop’s Hull, say the facility will disrupt their “quiet and peaceful community”, after plans were submitted last month.
Care company 1848 Ltd has asked for permission to turn a house into a residential children’s care home, which it says will provide much-needed care for young people.
The scheme has prompted more than 30 objections from residents concerned about an increase in traffic, noise, and a risk of harm to other children and families in the area.
One resident told the County Gazette: “The estate is built as all new estates are with houses very close together and any additional noise will impact both the immediate neighbours and possibly those in neighbouring streets.
“All noise carries very easily because of the acoustics between the closely built houses, let alone any elevated noise which it is likely this facility will create.
“It is a quiet and peaceful community where children play freely and enjoy the amenities such as the park.
“We are concerned about the possible mental state of the young people in the home and whether they will go the park where our children play unsupervised.
“There has been no thought about the potential impact on the many children who live around here.
“There is one entrance into the estate and all vehicles have to drive through a well-used public footpath to get to this house. There will be an increase in traffic – professional staff, the workers, and potentially emergency services.
“This will make the traffic flow busier, especially around the areas where young children play.”
Last week, 1848 Ltd arranged a meeting with people in neighbouring houses to discuss their concerns via Zoom.
But the company cancelled the meeting last minute due to a “serious safeguarding concern regarding the application” and sent residents a letter instead.
The letter explained: “We would like to reassure you that we are not opening a mental health provision. Indeed we do not have any other homes for young people with mental health issues.
“The young people who may live at the home at Shutewater would have very high expectations in terms of behaviour placed upon them.
“The young people we look after often have traumatic childhoods, have suffered all kinds of abuse and are highly vulnerable. They more than anything need help, support, care and love.”
The company was previously known as South West Mental Health – a mental health therapy service but said the name was changed because 1848 Ltd does not run homes for young people with mental health issues.
But historical Ofsted reports for South West Mental Health do not paint a positive picture.
A previous home run by the firm was rated as ‘inadequate’.
The report added how “leaders and managers have repeatedly failed to provide young people with a specialised, therapeutic and safe residential home” and “staff have had to rely on the police to protect the young people from being seriously hurt and injuring members of the public”.
Another resident, who did not wish to be identified, added: “Having this care home increases risk – and it’s not to discriminate against the young people in there – it is just a fact identified by many known professionals who work in this sector.
“It is not fair on the young people who are placed there either. They won’t achieve what they need to because they are in a completely wrong environment.
“I am sure their intentions are good ones but they are just setting the young people up to fail.”
Bishops Hull Parish Council objected against the planning application.
And district and parish councillor John Hunt, who supports the residents objections, said: “I do fully support these residents. In my opinion, the home is in the wrong location and has been put in a family environment.
“I am concerned for the children who will be coming into the house with many people in the neighbourhood not wanting them to be there – it could be terrible for them.
“I can understand the resident’s concerns – the children do need looking after but not in a private environment.
“This is a 24/7 care facility who are likely to have emergency services attending regularly in this small built up area.”
But 1848 Ltd said the children deserve the same opportunities as everyone else.
A spokesperson for the company said: “We provide a much needed service for young people.
“We are not as reported opening a mental health unit, we are opening a children’s home.
“Bishop’s Hull has great access to education and other community services, that our young people, like any other young people require to fulfil their potential.
“They deserve the same opportunities available to all young people who live with their family.
“We would like to provide young people a place to live where they are welcomed, belong, are loved and are given the opportunity to develop.”
The application will now to go before Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT).