Concerns raised over new home for abused and neglected children coming to Longton

A new home for vulnerable children is set to be created in South Ribble - but some residents are not happy.

By Tom Earnshaw, Reporter
Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 5:00 pm

Care provider Cherish UK is expected to open a new residential institution in the village of Longton, which will be used to provide care for up to three children that have likely suffered some form of abuse or trauma in their young lives.

The home, off Arkholme Drive, will be occupied by children who have not been involved with police or youth offending teams.

In a letter from Cherish UK, a spokesman writes: "The nature and purpose of this home is to accommodate low risk looked after children that have experienced our parenting model and are preparing to move into adulthood, our statement of purpose allows us to accommodate age ranges from eight to 18 on a full time basis.

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Arkholme Drive in Longton, where the residential institution is expected to be established (Image: Google Maps)

"This home will only support young people who behave pro-socially, have no involvement with the police or youth offending teams, have no criminogenic factors such as missing from home or gang involvement or substance misuse.

"They will engage with the community in a positive way and we fully expect that the community will be enhanced as a result and in our experience in other areas of Lancashire where we provide such support."

In a letter from Lancashire County Council's Senior Commissioning Manager, Annette McNeil, she writes that the authority is working with Cherish UK to deliver "suitable children's home placements within Lancashire's boundaries for our looked after children".

Ms McNeil adds that "there is sufficient local demand for this provision".

But in documents set to appear before South Ribble Council's planning committee on Wednesday, December 18, a total of 33 letters of objection to the plans have been received by the council, raising concerns over gang culture, a lack of nearby resources for the children to use, and an affect on amenities for residents in Arkholme Drive as well as Back Lane and Hambleton Close.

As documented in committee notes, one issue raised concerning the character of the area states that it "would be easy for children in case to either gravitate to the gangs or be selected as easy targets of the gangs".

Another issue reads: "[A] larger town with youth groups, sports centre and better access to resources would be far more suitable."

Some three letters in support were also received, with one saying: "These children should be welcomed into our neighbourhood and given the best chance."

Another reads: "Neighbours should be ashamed to imply these children will cause trouble."

If approved by councillors on the planning committee, the home, which is set to be run in line with Ofsted regulations, will legally not be used as a home for young offenders due to planning restrictions on such usage.

Council planning officers have recommended that the plans are approved, writing: "There is a need to carefully balance the amenity expectations of residents in their communities against the need to ensure that vulnerable children are also appropriately accommodated."

It adds that "the nature of the use and the number of children who will reside at the property will not impact upon highway safety, the character and appearance of the area nor will it have a detrimental impact upon the amenity of neighbouring residential properties".

The committee will meet at 6pm on Wednesday, December 18 at the Civic Centre in Leyland.