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Oldham is getting a new children’s home – but locals aren’t happy about it

A specialist children’s home has been approved on a residential road in Oldham – but locals aren’t happy about it.

The home on Oak Close, Werneth will help provide a new life for kids who’ve suffered from abuse or neglect, according to applicants Safe Children’s Care.

But more than 20 street residents objected to the plans, claiming the home would worsen ‘existing problems with anti-social behaviour’ in the area. 

The plans, approved by council officers last week, promised the home will operate ‘as close to a normal dwellinghouse as possible’ while providing therapeutic care ‘to help [the kids] get over the traumas of their earlier childhood’. 

Three eight to 17 year-olds can live in the five-bedroom house with three staff members to supervise at any given time. 

Demand for care facilities has soared in recent months. With limited options available in Oldham, 239 kids had to be placed outside the borough last year – with 50 living more than 20 miles away from home. 

But many of the residents from the surrounding streets raised concerns for the safety of the kids at the care home, suggesting the neighbourhood was plagued by youngsters engaging in ‘theft and drug-related activities’. There were fears kids in care could ‘fall prey’, ‘become a part of’ or ‘attract further’ unwanted behaviours in the area. 

One resident wrote: “Vulnerable children’s safety would be at risk as this not tranquil area the children would need to grow. The property overlooks the public park … [which] has become the centre for anti-social behaviours. 

“Ongoing issues include vandalism / inappropriate graffiti at the park, drug use, drug dealing, sex exploitation cases, late night park visitors making noises, swearing, banging park equipment and causing neighbours lack of sleep.” 

Another resident claimed they’d been ‘very scared to leave their property’ due to a group of “lads sitting on the steps, watching every move we make, smoking Ganja”. 

While planning officer Abiola Labisi noted that these were not strictly planning concerns, he addressed the concerns in a report. 

Labisi said: “There would be some adults on site at any point in time to take care of the residents. The only difference between the adult carers and parents in a normal dwellinghouse is that the carers do not live on site permanently but just come to work.”

Other concerns raised included parking and traffic but as there are three on-site parking spaces, this was not considered grounds to reject the application.

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