A new Peterborough care home was approved despite anger from neighbours at the plans.
The six person home for 16 to 18-year-olds in the leafy cul-de-sac of Broadway Gardens received planning permission despite claims from a former city mayor that he had never seen an application so widely disliked.
The comments by Cllr John Peach were re-iterated by his fellow Park ward members Cllr Richard Ferris and Cllr Shaz Nawaz to loud applause from angry residents watching on, as the Conservative and Labour representatives put politics aside to forcefully unite against the plans.
In the end, though, members of Peterborough City Council’s planning committee sided with the co-owners of the care home, with Cllr June Bull even praising them for giving evidence against a “backdrop of hostilities.”
But just as it seemed that the opponents of the plans would be left defeated, committee chair Cllr Chris Harper made a late intervention to suggest that giving temporary planning permission of two years would be better than full planning permission.
He said: “We solicit the public to give us their views and I can’t turn my back on the fact people are deeply concerned.”
The temporary permission was then granted by the committee, despite Cllr Lucia Serluca’s insistence that one year would be much a more suitable time-frame.
The decision would not have been what Cllr Peach would have been hoping for when he began the debate on the application.
He told committee members: “In all my time as a councillor, coming before this committee, I have never met such a unanimous rejection of a planning application.”
He also accused the care home’s co-owners Sue Hessom and Naidre Werner of having “completely misled” the council’s senior building control surveyor by carrying out internal alterations to the property despite telling him otherwise.
The claims were categorically denied later on by the pair who added that housing enforcement officers had inspected the home but found no problems.
Other arguments against the home was that its conversion for business use would be contrary to the policies of the conservation area which Broadway Gardens is in, and would see an increase in anti-social behaviour and noise and would create problems with parking.
Cllr Ferris said local residents had “genuine concerns,” while Cllr Nawaz said: “Residents have paid a lot of money to move into this cul-de-sac. To have a business there is the last thing they would want.”
Objector Heather Mizen, a member of the Broadway Residents’ Association, later added: “We believe that this planning application will damage the character of Broadway Gardens.”
The home already has a young person living inside, so the planning permission was retrospective.
Ms Hessom and Ms Werner - co-directors of Florinee Homes Ltd - said there was a need for housing for the vulnerable and that their home would not undermine the significance of conservation area.
Ms Hessom said: “It’s a common misconception that young people in care homes are feral. They are damaged by society, not damaging to it.”
Ms Werner said: “We will not allow any young children to loiter. We will encourage any local residents that witness anything like that to contact us immediately.”
The committee was told that planning permission would not be needed if the home was just for adults, prompting members to say there were no planning reasons to turn the application down.
Cllr Peter Hiller called the plans “common sense,” but after Cllr Harper’s intervention the committee was minded to agree a temporary rather than permanent application, meaning the co-owners will have to return in 48 months to ask the committee to make their planning permission permanent.