A new residential home for adults with learning disabilities is set to open in Oswestry after permission was granted for the conversion of a B&B.
Shropshire Council’s northern planning committee has approved the proposals for Everglades on Brynhafod Lane, despite concerns being voiced by nearby residents about road safety and noise.
The home will accommodate up to eight residents and be operated by Achieve Together, which runs homes and outreach services across the country including two in Wem and one in Bomere Heath, near Shrewsbury.
The provider says the new home in Oswestry will help to meet a local need for accommodation to enable people with support needs to live independently.
It will also create jobs, with eight staff expected to be on duty each day as well as three overnight.
The plans include communal areas, offices and staff accommodation, while four additional parking spaces will be added outside, taking the total number of spaces to 11.
The house lies 130 metres down the narrow Brynhafod Lane, which has no pavements, but highways officers did not object to the plans because they said a refusal on road safety grounds would be “difficult to defend”.
There were 60 letters of support lodged with the council over the plans, as well as objections from 50 members of the public and Oswestry Town Council.
Neighbour Jonathan Martin spoke at the meeting on behalf of nearby residents.
He said: “The comings and goings of 16 adults will create noise and disturbance beyond that of a large family home – raised voices and shouting, slamming of car doors as staff arrive and depart or take residents out.
“The operation of a commercial property in a quiet residential area will have a much greater impact on our amenities than the existing use.
“There are more suitable places for a care home. This proposal will affect the quiet enjoyment of our properties and will have a detrimental impact upon our lives.”
Councillor Duncan Kerr, who represents Oswestry South, also spoke against the application.
He said: “It’s hard to think of a less suitable site in Oswestry and if the term ‘out of character to the locality’ has any meaning, then I think this site should be rejected on those grounds alone.”
Councillor Kerr also said the proposed change of use would open the door for other businesses to take on the site in future without the need to obtain further permission, including residential schools, nursing homes and training centres.
Jenny Hughes, on behalf of Achieve Together, told the committee that Everglades had been selected out of 18 potential homes in the Oswestry area, after a thorough search undertaken “at the specific request of Shropshire Council commissioners because this is where the local need is”.
She said the property’s large garden and location in a quiet area would suit the needs of future residents, who will have autism spectrum disorder and associated learning difficulties, while being close to the town centre.
Ms Hughes added that the change of use should be be acceptable in planning policy terms as the site is within the town’s development boundary.
Councillor Joyce Barrow said: “I support such accommodation, the community really does need it, but I believe that this is the wrong house.”
Councillor Mike Isherwood said: “A couple of things concern me, and one is the lane being very narrow.
“Although highways say that an objection would be difficult to defend, they say that’s because the threshold is so high on safety.
“I’m not convinced that it’s always good enough just to say that we couldn’t defend an objection on highways grounds if the affect would still be detrimental.”
Councillor Isherwood said the increased traffic could discourage people from walking the route, and put those who did in danger.
However other members supported the proposals.
Councillor Geoff Elner said: “I fail to understand why residents in a home like this would be noisier than a B&B.”
Councillor Vince Hunt added: “It’s a difficult one. I understand the concerns of the residents, but I don’t fundamentally see a huge difference between this and it being a B&B.”
The committee voted to approve the change of use, with seven in favour, two against and one abstention.