Luton children’s home approved despite fire concerns

Planning
Planning

Plans for a children’s home in Round Green have been approved by Luton Borough Council, despite concerns from Beds Fire and Rescue.

Proposals for the children’s home at 5a Mountfield Road were approved during last week’s meeting of the development control committee on February 28.

The home is accessed by a narrow road and is surrounded by Mountfield Road, Sunridge Avenue, Mountfield Path and Woodbury Hill. Controversially, council planning officers recommended approval for the home despite opposition from Beds Fire and Rescue Service over the site’s lack of a hydrant, as well as poor access.

According to the fire service, the road is not wide enough for a pump to pass and the main road is some 45 metres from the furthest parts of the building.

13 letters of objection have also been received from residents. One angry resident said: “We’ve all come together on this, our first issue is it doesn’t meet fire regulations because of the access road. The council have basically said, ‘That’s got nothing to do with us’.

“As far as I’m concerned, no-one is interested in our concerns as residents. How can you put in a children’s home with no parking?”

In their report, LBC’s planning officer acknowledges the “inadequate access” and that a condition for this to be resolved was requested by Beds Fire Service.

But, the officer stated: “Given the constrained nature of the site there is no scope for the access width to be increased.

“On review of the comments from the Fire Service it is evident that this is a matter that is regulated through Approved Document B of the Building Regulations 2010. In planning terms there are no legislative grounds or policy grounds for refusing the application on this basis.”

Permission was granted for the change of use of the existing residential dwelling to a five-bedroom children’s home for children aged ten to 17 years of age.

A maximum of five children would be resident at any one time and staff would be present at all times. During the day, five members of staff would be present between 8am and 11pm and at night, two members of staff would be present.”

Applicant Craig Cameron of Cameron Support Services, who would run the proposed children’s home, said: “We are nowhere near ready to open the home, there’s so many other things to do – one of them being to work with the residents.

“I think people in the area have this idea that we’re going to open up and there will be delinquent kids – there’s so much to consider. What I will say is that it won’t open until it’s regarded as safe in totality by the Fire and Rescue Service.

“We are very keen to work with every single agency, every single party, and neighbours. I think it’s very unfortunate that the company hasn’t had the opportunity to meet with residents. We have tried our absolute best to look at every single part of the application, we have gone beyond the call of duty.”

Even with planning consent, Cameron Support Services will still be required to meet the necessary fire regulations.

A Luton Borough Council spokesman said: “In reaching its decision the Committee took into account all material planning considerations including the representations received from local residents, three of whom addressed the meeting. On balance the Committee resolved that permission be granted. The issue regarding the Fire Services comments, which related to the need for a fire hydrant on the adjoining public highway, was addressed both in the report to the meeting and as part of the officer’s presentation.”