Supported living apartments for vulnerable people with learning disabilities are set to be built in Bath Place after Warwick District Council’s planning committee approved their construction.
The two-storey building will contain 16 apartments and will replace the remnants of the Bath Place Community Venture, which was destroyed in a fire in 2009. The building was also the home of All Saint’s Primary School.
Warwickshire Police had initially objected to the building because of high crime levels within a 250m radius of the building, but rescinded their objection after further consideration of the planned security arrangements, such as a fence around the building and the installation of CCTV.
The police’s withdrawal of their objection did not allay some councillors’ concerns.
Cllr Jane Knight (Lab, Clarendon), questioned the security of the residents in the location proposed. She said: “I’ve been involved in Bath Place for many years, and I accept that if the council has finally found a way to deal with it they’re very tempted to go for it.
“But we in the committee have to balance the benefits to the council with the effect of the building on the people who live in it.
Whilst there is need for this provision, it is simply in the wrong part of town. Many of us are in disbelief that affording care and protection to vulnerable people can be provided in this area.Cllr Matt Western (Lab, Leamington Willes)
“I think the balance is against the building - it’s just too risky. Let’s have another look because this just seems like a nightmare to me.”
Cllr Terry Morris (Con, Salitsford), said he had personal experience of supported living and said he supported the proposed living arrangements. He added: “Speaking from a position of, I believe, knowledge, I would move to support the application.”
Cllr Martyn Ashford (Con, Aylesford), said: “I don’t think we get too many of supported living places very often. It regenerates an area in need of regeneration.
“As long as the security aspects are respected I would be happy to support the application.”
Referring to the security measures in place affecting the freedom of the people who live in the apartments, Cllr Alan Boad (Lib Dem, Crown), said: “I think there are real issues here. The building is surrounded by a fence because of all this crime around it - they’ve got life sentences that they don’t deserve.
“I think everything is good about it apart from the location.”
He pointed to the National Planning Policy Framework, which states that permission should only be granted in ‘safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine the quality of life or community cohesion.’ Cllr Boad was sceptical the building met this condition.
He also proposed that the building’s CCTV be linked to the district council’s system as a condition of granting permission instead of being monitored by the building’s internal security.
The plans were eventually approved by eight votes to three, and Cllr Boad’s condition was approved after it was agreed the developers would link the CCTV for the next five years.
After the decision, Warwickshire County Councillor Matt Western (Lab, Leamington Willes), said: “Whilst there is need for this provision, it is simply in the wrong part of town. Many of us are in disbelief that affording care and protection to vulnerable people can be provided in this area.”