Concerns have been raised about a plan for a children’s residential care home in Rossendale, school places and local consultation.

Proposals to change the use of a house in Whitworth into a residential care home were discussed and approved with conditions at Rossendale Council’s recent development control meeting but then raised again at the full council meeting.

The applicant, officially named only as Kauser, wanted permission to change Clairemoor House on Tonacliffe Way, Whitworth, into a children’s residential care home. A contact regarding the Whitworth property’s current owner is given at Lancashire Law, based in Dale Street, Milnrow, near Rochdale.

The agent is Simon Smith of Cruciform Architects in Cheadle, Staffordshire, according to plans sent to Rossendale Council. A name of ‘Miss T Kauser’ is shown on an architectural drawing.

A supporting document by a consultancy firm called Safe Hands states: “The running of this care home would be undertaken as close as possible to that of a normal dwelling-house. Any staff training would generally take place off-site and the children would also visit healthcare professionals off-site as per a normal family operation, i.e. doctors, dentists, etc.

“As well as the children being placed in the local schools in the catchment area, they would also utilise services and facilities in the surrounding area.

“The suitability of the property would be fully assessed  to match the types of residents that could reside there. Factors would include nature of the surrounding community, proximity to other residential care homes etc. The home will be registered with Ofsted and will be subject to all requirements for registration as a children’s home including periodic independent inspection. The applicant pledges to prioritise children from the local area for placement.”

Overall ten staff are envisaged, with typically three staff changing every 24-to-48 hours.


But Whitworth Community First Coun Alan Neal called-in the application for scrutiny at the recent Rossendale development control meeting and then raised it again at the full council.

No other speakers, the applicant or objectors, spoke at the development meeting. But councillors did debate it.

Coun Neal asked for about how the care of vulnerable children would be checked, about staff numbers and views from Lancashire County Council and the Care Quality Commission, a government agency.

He said: “The age range of children is eight to 17. We are talking about young people who have been let-down by adults. So there are care concerns for young, vulnerable people.

“I’m also concerned about car parking and school places. The site is within the vicinity of a local primary school. It is currently full. So are St Bartholomew’s, St Anselm’s and Whitworth High School. So these vulnerable people will, I assume, have personal tutors on-site. Or will they go to the local schools, which have no vacancies?”

Coun Neal said school places were a challenge  in various places. Some children from the Britannia area of Rossendale go to school in Todmorden, he understood.

Conservative Coun Anne Cheetham also had concerns at the development meeting. She said: “Over the years in Rossendale, we had another establishment with some similar characteristics to this proposal, which created some local difficulties.

“There is also a cross-over with services from Rochdale. Considering what some people have experienced in recent years, this is very important. We need more information about the Whitworth plan, including rooms, facilities and accommodation.”

However, in planning some issues such as care or education details are not considerations, councillors were told. Relevant planning considerations are topics such as neighbourhood amenity and access.

Development councillors also asked if Whitworth Town Council had been consulted or had time to consider it, given the summer break.

Planning officers said the town council was sent weekly planning lists. Planning officer Claire Bradley said the town council was not ‘formally’ consulted on the Clairemoor plan. However, the town council had asked about other recent applications.

Labour Coun Patrick Marriott said all councillors knew about the planning system including weekly lists and consultation deadlines. However,  he recommended the Clairemoor plan be deferred.

He said: “I hope in future the method of the town council is clarified and we don’t have question marks over things like this.”

Despite some councillors’ frustrations or worries, the development committee approved the Clairemoor home application.

Labour Coun Marilyn Procter, the committee chairwoman, emphasised that councillors did care about children’s welfare and noted the points raised. However, some issues were the responsibility of other authorities and not the development committee.


Then at the full Rossendale Council meeting, Coun Alan Neal raised the  consultation issue again. He said: “Since when did it become council policy to stop fully consulting with Whitworth Town Council on applications relating solely to Whitworth? They are a statutory consultee. ”

Labour Coun Alyson Barnes, the council leader, said: “Whitworth Town Council has been a recipient of weekly planning lists for 10 years. There has been no change. The [town ] clerk has confirmed that notification was received of thIs specific planning application.”

Coun Neal said: “Until recently, Whitworth Town Council used to receive full reports, at cost to the applicant. But on this occasion, members [councillors] chose not to do a site visit and the local school nearby was not contacted. The case worker managed to turn this round in 37 days when the statutory deadline is eight weeks.”

Coun Barnes said she was told site visits were made independently by councillors. There was no organised site visit for the last development committee.