Great Barr children’s home can stay against wishes of neighbours after council overruled

Walsall Road, Great Barr. A decision to reject an application for a children's home has been overruled by a government planning inspector
Walsall Road, Great Barr. A decision to reject an application for a children's home has been overruled by a government planning inspector -Credit:Google Maps

A children’s home can remain in place after the council was overruled by a government inspector. The children’s home at Carolann House in Walsall Road, Great Barr, will be allowed to remain open after a bid to close it down by Sandwell Council was reversed in a new ruling by the government’s planning inspector.

Sandwell Council had rejected an application for the children’s home saying it was “unsuitable” for the area and neighbours had complained about “screaming” disturbing them throughout the day. The council had served JN Healthcare Group, which runs the home, with an enforcement notice last June over an alleged breach of planning conditions after, it was claimed, the Walsall Road house had been converted into a children’s residential home without permission.

Permission was granted in 2010 for a ‘supervised residential home for up to four young people’ – which JN Healthcare said it believed covered the building’s use as a children’s home – but the council disagreed. The notice demanded an end to the “unauthorised” use of the house as a children’s home within four months – “and to remove all materials and any other items from the property associated with the unauthorised use.”

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However, JN Healthcare Group appealed to the government’s planning inspector over the enforcement notice and won. The ruling means the enforcement notice has been quashed and the correct planning permission for the children’s home, for up to four young people aged between 11 and 18 years old, has been granted.

The approval by the government inspector comes after several applications to regularise the building as children’s home have been blocked by Sandwell Council. The council did approve an application in 2010 for a residential home for up to four children but an application for a ‘lawful development certificate’ to validate the house as a children’s home was rejected in 2022.

Another application was rejected in May last year with the council saying it was “not compatible with adjacent uses” or “suitable for the site” and would increase noise and “general disturbance” in the area.

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Sandwell Council rejected the application asking for permission to continue running the children’s home saying it was unsuitable for the area. A number of objections had been lodged with the council over the plans – with neighbours complaining about late-night noise and disturbance.

The objectors had also claimed that more young people and staff were staying at the home than was allowed. Neighbours had also complained about being kept awake at night by “screaming” and other “significant disturbances” throughout the day.

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After the decision by the government inspector, documents explaining how the children’s home will be run and managed will have to be submitted, approved by Sandwell Council and then implemented within six months otherwise the children’s home would be closed down – and anything associated with the residential home confiscated until it was.

The owners of the home have also been told to upgrade the sound insulation on shared walls to cut the disruption to neighbours as much as possible. In a report outlining the decision, the planning inspector said the area was already noisy – with “considerable” noise coming from the busy Walsall Road.

“This is not a simply a residential area,” inspector Graham Dudley said. “While there are residences by the appeal site, further along the row there are vets and a funeral director located in converted houses and further along still are blocks of flats, some with shops beneath. The property fronts onto a busy dual carriageway and opposite is a parade of more shops.

Mr Dudley said the noise from a children’s home would do “very little” to add to noise and the activity in the area. “I accept that there will be a considerable number of vehicles coming to and going from the property, particularly at change-over times, that would normally not be in character with a residential area,” he continued.

“Here, however, there is considerable noise and activity associated with the main road and other properties have large parking areas and cars in front of them. I consider that the additional activity, noise and disturbance would be very little in relation to the general activity in the area and I do not consider that it would cause material harm or be out of character.”

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