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‘This is a stitch-up': Controversial children’s home approval sparks outrage from objectors

A controversial children’s home will be built in Hyde despite objectors speaking against the plans at a tense meeting of the planning panel.

One objector called the process “a stitch-up” as he left the room after calling the panel chair, Cllr David McNally, a “gobby git”. The man’s fury was immediately after they approved the plans to transform an end terrace home on Clarendon Road into a care home for two children with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Some of the 103 objectors joined by Cllr Andrea Colbourne came to the meeting to share their grievances with the plan – which did not sway the panel from agreeing with the officers' recommendation to approve the plan.

The planning panel, meeting at Guardsman Tony Downes House in Droylsden, also decided on an extension for the Village Hotel in Ashton Moss as well as a new 35-home apartment block in the site of an old Ashton nightclub.

Here is a breakdown of each big item on the agenda at the meeting on March 20.

Children’s home for Hyde – APPROVED

The plan to convert a terraced property into a children’s home for two sparked controversy in the area around Clarendon Road in Hyde.

Objectors explained that traffic and parking is already a problem in the area and the eight members of staff looking after the children 24/7 would add to the problem with their own vehicles. Staff will include one manager, three senior support workers, three support workers and one area manager who works from home. 

Cllr Colbourne told the panel: “The parking situation is already causing animosity between neighbours and it will only get worse if this application goes ahead.”

An objector present gave examples of this issue when emergency vehicles have not been able to attend bungalows at the bottom of Bedford Avenue (a neighbouring street) due to the parking situation. The objector stated that no one has an issue with building care homes, but that this is simply in the wrong location.

Cllr Laura Boyle took issue with the objectors comments that these children could start fires and that they would be vulnerable to the already present issue of antisocial behaviour in nearby streets. The panel agreed in a majority that this home would run like any other household on the street and that these children should not be stigmatised.

This argument was also put forward by a representative on behalf of Infinity Care Home Ltd.

Laura Hopkinson was supposed to attend the meeting, but did not feel safe to do so after being subject of online threats relating to this application.

The representative in the room implored the panel to approve the application and described the objectors behaviour as “inherent prejudice” against children in care. He added that there was no evidence to suggest this new home would reduce house prices or create additional antisocial behaviour.  

The applicants got their way as the proposal was approved by majority decision. This led to one man to get up and shout at the panel, describing how his wife needed an ambulance on multiple occasions which could not get down the street due to parking issues.

He described the process as “a stitch up” and went on to call chair Coun McNally “a gobby git” when he tried to calm him down. The man shouted “thanks for nothing” as he exited the room.

Village Hotel expansion – APPROVED

The Village Hotel in Ashton Moss will get a huge 48-bedroom extension after the panel approved the plans in a swift manner.
The new extension will be connected to the current site with a link bridge and be five storeys in height. This will bring the overall capacity of the hotel to 168 bedrooms. 

In addition to overnight accommodation the hotel includes a Starbucks coffee house, restaurant, gym and meeting room and conference facilities.

A representative on behalf of the hotel told the committee that this extension would help meet a growing demand for hotel accommodation in the area.

The site of the extension is currently demarcated for car parking with some minimal existing landscape features. This results in a minimal net loss of 14 spaces overall, giving a total of 290 car parking spaces including 18 dedicated accessible car parking spaces.

Planning permission for the 48-bedroom extension was approved in 2019, but the hotel has exceeded the three years limit they were required to build it. Village Hotels say they are now in a position where the extension is required to meet the growing demand for rooms -so have resubmitted the application.

The applicants say that this would create more jobs in the area both in-house and through the construction phase.

Former Blues nightclub site to change into housing use – APPROVED

A new 35-home apartment block will be built on a car park formerly home of the Blues nightclub in Ashton.
The nightclub on Stamford Street Central, thought to be Ashton’s first gay nightclub went on to be known as Pinkies Bar & Disco before it was left to go to wrack and ruin. It has since been demolished and is currently used as a car park.

The new three-storey block will contain 33 one-bedroom flats and two, two-bedroom flats – all available for affordable rent (80 per cent of market value).

Councillors Adrian Pearce and Doreen Dickinson both questioned the high proportion of one-bed flats – suggesting there was not enough of a mix in the development. However, the representative from Ashton Alban (Central) Limited, the applicant, suggested this was specifically done to meet local demand.

He told the panel that after consulting market experts that the area favoured one-beds over two-beds due to issues around bedroom tax. He did take on board these comments and said they will look to address this within other applications in the future.

Once the apartment block is built, the site will be managed by Jigsaw Homes. The current parking facility at the site would be reduced from 50 spaces to 13 – with cycle storage for 35 bicycles.

The design and access statement read: “This project focuses on Social Sustainability providing much needed homes during a housing crisis and as affordable rented properties they will serve those most in need.

“As confirmed by Jigsaw Homes Group who will be developing the project, subject to planning permission, the provision will contribute to meeting various needs across the council.

“(This would meet needs for) care leavers reaching 18, those threatened with homelessness, particularly under 35s who can access the one bedroom rate for the LHA, as well as a growing number of single people and couples facing increasing affordability struggles.”

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