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Campaigners unhappy as children’s home scheme returns

Residents in St Annes are up in arms after a children’s home which was refused by planners could still open anyway.

They say applicants are using a loophole which is bypassing planning laws and which is leading to a raft of controversial developments going ahead.

However, applicants in this case, Kirkham-baed Creative Living Care Ltd, say there is a need for amenities to care for ‘looked after children’ and say they have a good reputation in delivering well-run schemes.

In April, Creative Living’s application for a change of use of a home to a residential children’s care home on St Andrew’s Road South, St Annes, was turned down by Fylde planners.

The scheme had been recommended for approval by the planning officer but was refused by councillors because it would lead to unacceptable disturbance to immediate neighbours, create highway safety concerns and would require high fencing which would be out of keeping with the local area.

Residents in the immediate vicinity had lodged 35 objections with the council and 123 signed a petition opposing the application, raising the concerns which eventually led to the application being refused in April.

Those original proposals by Creative Living Care Ltd were for three young people (under 18 years of age) and non-resident carers.

However, Creative Living Care Ltd has now submitted new plans.

The latest application, validated by the council on May 22, is for a certificate of lawful development (use class C3) as a two-child care home with non-resident carers(Use Class C2).

Campaigner Ken Cridland says that means the application does not need to go through the process of a planning committee – it will simply require a lawful development certificate (LDC), to be determined by a planning officer.

He says that without the scrutiny of councillors on the committee, it will have a much greater chance of getting the green light.

Trevor Court of the ‘189 Neighbours’ Group’ said: “This situation is absolutely disgraceful.

“Any system which effectively allows companies to ride roughshod over and bypass decisions by elected councillors needs changing.

“This case particularly shows that system up for what it is.

“How can planning officers, without gathering evidence from or consulting those involved, come to an informed and sensible decision that planning permission is not needed?”

Creative Living Care Ltd was approached for a comment about the latest application.

Previously, Matt Hughes, director of Kirkham-based Creative Living Care Ltd, said: “We provide nurturing opportunities for young people in a safe and structured environment and allow them to learn life skills which can help them in their lives.

“The properties we use are always assessed fully to ensure they are suitable and safe for what we do.”

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