Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Children with autism not welcome here say Lib Dems

NIMBY local Lib Dems turned down a planning application to convert a Hedge End house to support children with complex needs arising from autism, life trauma and mental health problems.

The planning professional's report stated there would be no more traffic than would be expected from a "normal busy domestic family" and the house had "sizeable frontage which can easily accommodate any parking requirements without the need to park on the street". Yet Hedge End, West End and Botley councillors refused permission, saying the young people's support workers driving to the house would cause traffic and parking problems.

Warned that most of the proposed changes to the building did not need planning consent and that the proposed change of use was not a material consideration, Lib Dems nevertheless made clear what they thought at Monday's HEWEB local area committee.

One councillor said it was not appropriate in a quiet residential street. (What sort of street do they want children to live in?)

Another said the applicant should not be converting a normal house, but should move into a purpose-built building. (Why shouldn't children live in a normal house?)

The same councillor criticised the applicant for drawing attention to the children's needs by seeking consent in a public arena. (But five Lib Dem councillors insisted the application was debated in public.)

Another councillor referred to the inconvenience that would be caused to neighbours, and referred to  a previous application that had been refused for a pigeon loft as a precedent. (Rather an insensitive comparison.)

The same councillor considered the possibility that the applicant would appeal the decision and summed up with the Clint Eastwood quote: "Go ahead punk, make my day". The councillor was clearly playing to the gallery but it seems Lib Dems are brave against small social care organisations but cave in to the blandishments of big property developers.


  1. With the Little Acorns Day Nursery not that far from my doorstep, I have to say that I am pleased that the Lib Dems are now picking up on the concerns about disruption to existing residents. It's a pity they didn't think that way when permission for change of use of St Johns Hall was granted...

    I know it is out of character for me to agree with the Lib Dems, but having personally experienced what happens when such permission is granted, I feel that the Lib Dems might actually be right about this. I don't think it has anything to do with the Lib Dems being anti-autism, but as all 21 seats of the council are up for re-election next year the Lib Dems probably do now need all the support they can get from local residents...

  2. I'd be more inclined to agree with you Ray, if the Lib Dems hadn't ignored the concerns of local residents in West End and approved housing at Dog Kennel Farm in the same meeting.

    1. That's interesting. Thanks Keith. It really does seem as though these things are decided behind the scenes, for reasons that we can only speculate about, with various stock arguments rolled out to justify the decision in public.

      That's no way to run a Borough Council...