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Former Cambridgeshire pub ruled ‘unsuitable’ for children’s home

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A former village pub has been refused planning permission to turn it into a children’s home.

Huntingdonshire District Council ruled that the Huntsman on the Great North Road at Conington is “an unsuitable location”.

The council says the lack of accessibility to shops, services, community facilities and public transport was a major consideration.

“Due to its isolated nature and poor connectivity to nearby settlements the staff and visitors would rely heavily on the use of private motor vehicles,” the council ruled.

Associated Care Services Ltd – a residential care provider based in London – had submitted the change of use for the 18th Grade II listed coaching house.

The Huntsman

It told the council it had “identified the site as being operationally ideal for the housing of a small number of particularly vulnerable children.

“It is proposed that the property be used to home a maximum of 7 children and that they are supervised by at least 3 adult carers on site at all times.

“The existing building has listed building consent for the internal changes necessary to accommodate 7 ensuite bedrooms”.

Associated Care proposed keeping the ground floor retained in its current format providing communal lounge, dining, and kitchen/ utility space.

The Huntsman

The proposals were criticised by, among others, the parish council and two councillors.

County councillor Simon Bywater said the location “in an isolated rural setting a long way from any amenities or facilities that young people often need.

“This is exacerbated by the fact transport links for this location are almost non-existent thus isolating young people placed in such a setting”.

He also feared lack of any community integration for young children and its location adjacent to the A1 “could be a significant risk, to a young person who might be feeling vulnerable”.

He added: “As the former chairman of the children and young people’s committee at Cambridgeshire County Council I have discovered at the time of writing that the provider has had no conversations with local children’s commissioners”.

District councillor Tim Alban also objected, pointing out that the nearest shop, school, playground, library, and doctors are all around 4 miles away.

He added: “The location of the proposed home is in proximity to local criminal ‘hot spots’”.

Conington Parish Council said it had “strong objections and recommends refusal because the site is entirely unsuitable for the proposed use”.

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