Plans to convert a farm house into a care home for youngsters have been given the nod, despite dozens of objections from neighbours.
Priory Group lodged proposals relating to New House Farm in Cow Hill, Haighton, into a care home for up to six people under 19 with autistic spectrum disorders or learning difficulties.
Residents had raised fears about potential crime and violence linked to the plans, but councillors agreed the application, after hearing the children would be “no threat to the community”.
Addressing yesterday’s planning committee, retired judge and HCPT charity volunteer Edward Donnelly said: “The reason they need special care is not because the world needs protecting from them, they need protecting from the world.”
Mr Donnelly, who said his grandchild was on the autistic spectrum, said: “They don’t choose to be autistic but you have a choice of either accepting them because of the nature of their disabilities, or you reject them.
“It is a very serious responsibility but I am confident you will exercise your discretion and accept the recommendation that’s made by your planning officers. These children are no threat to the community, they will be an asset.”
The residents will attend Oliver House School in Chorley, and the converted house is hoped to be a “family home” for the youngsters.
But Coun Neil Cartwright told the committee neighbours were concerned the home was for people with learning difficulties including “behavioural, emotional and social difficulties”.
The meeting had heard the home was for “children on the autistic spectrum or with related learning difficulties”, but Coun Cartwright said: “A lot of people have come here today, all caring and compassionate people, who just want to have the reassurances and have transparent views of what’s happening.”