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Doubt cast over Coulsdon support home for teens coming out of care

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THE director of a company aiming to open a house for those coming out of care is likely to drop the plans after being told he would need planning permission.

Joseph Cave says he does not want to get into a costly planning battle over using the residential property at 107 Marlpit Lane, nor does the landlord want the change of use.

His company, Transitional Plus Care, had planned to open a four-bed house for looked-after 16 to 17-year-old men, where they could adjust to independent living before reaching 18.

But the proposal is now in doubt after council planning officer John Asiamah said last week the house would need planning permission for change of use.

"Considering the number of objections it would be a long, drawn out and expensive process," said Mr Cave.

The company planned to open its first house in the borough after securing a place on a Croydon Council list of 17 organisations to whom it could refer looked-after 16 and 17-year-olds for "semi-independent support".

The Marlpit Lane plan drew 36 objections to Croydon Council from residents, some of whom have expressed fears over potential bad behaviour from the would-be inhabitants.

Mr Cave said: "It so happens that 80 per cent of care-leavers have come into youth offending services and we have experts in that, but it is not the definition of people we look after.

"I think in general 100 per cent of our [roughly 30 nationally] people are in education or training."

He added that they did not take people who they consider should be kept in an institution, such as those with a history of severe drug use or at risk of being sex offenders or arsonists.

Staff would not live inside the house and Mr Cave said he had not needed planning permission for similar facilities elsewhere in the country.

He added: "Most places which already have permission as a residential care home would not be desirable for us because we want four or five-bed houses which look like homes.

"They need to know how to wash, clean, cook and manage their money.

"They are very institutionalised – we are there to bridge the gap from children's home to living independently.

"Some of them have been in care for nearly 18 years and it can be difficult for them to cope.

"It has to be a relatively nice place and suitable property and we look around a lot of places: if you put them in a trouble-rife area with lots of crime you have not got a chance."


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