Plans to buy two Derbyshire houses to convert into children’s homes revealed
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Derbyshire County Council announced in June that it was looking to spend £1.2 million to buy two private houses off the open market and convert them into new children’s homes facilities.
These were to replace ageing facilities nearby which are in need of widespread upgrades and repairs – some of which cannot be sufficiently upgraded.
It has now filed planning applications to itself detailing that one property is a two-storey house in Hady Hill, Chesterfield, which the council had aimed to buy for £500,000, with purchase and works totalling £1.85 million.
Meanwhile, the second property is the now former Griff House B&B in Compton Road, Buxton, which the council had aimed to buy for £700,000, with total purchase and conversion costing £1.3 million.
Details on estate agent websites detail that the Compton Road property had previously been bought for £370,000 in April 2011 and that the Hady Hill property had an estimated price of up to £567,000.
A statement backing the need to buy houses to convert, instead of building a new facility, was submitted by the council with its Buxton application.
It said: “Nationally, regionally, and locally there are significant pressures on Children in care and looked after children services resulting from a lack of sufficiency of places to meet current changing demands and the individual needs of children and young people.
“Currently several regulated children’s homes in Derbyshire require full refurbishment. The scale of the refurbishment within each of these homes requires the home to be vacated for up to a year to enable works to be completed.
“Identifying alternative accommodation for our children into temporary regulated accommodation has been particularly challenging.
“Identification of a home within the current home locality of the right size which minimises the impact on our children’s lives, community and education creates very specific challenges.
“Purchasing a property enables the acquisition of the replacement asset and any required building works to be completed before any children and staff move into the home. Enabling the children and staff to move only once from current property asset to the new regulated children home.”
It says the former B&B is an ideal site with nearby residents already more accustomed to a higher volume of traffic than the would-be facility may provide.
The council says the short distance to its current Solomon House children’s home in College Road will help avoid disruption to the children in its care.
On its Chesterfield application, the council says the scheme would have a reduced impact on the main road, due to it having off-street parking, that it has good transport links and is close enough to the existing Fairview children’s home in Newbold Road to also avoid disruption to the children in its care.
Finding new homes nearby allows children to maintain their well-being, friendship grounds, community support and education, the council says for both applications.It will decide on the applications in the next few months.
The council had looked at all properties owned by the council and through local council partnerships, holiday lets and arrangements it has with private children’s homes providers but could not find alternative housing.
It said it had originally dismissed the idea of buying a house off the open market “due to the complexity of aligning approvals and budgets with a fast-paced buyers’ market”.
However, due to surging costs of the children’s home replacement plans and associated “challenges and risks”, the authority reconsidered and found properties fit for conversion.