PLANS to turn two houses in Halesowen into residential homes for youngsters have been passed, despite drugs and safety fears.

Dudley’s Development Control Committee overwhelmingly passed a plan to convert a five bedroom home on Springfield Road at its meeting last night (Tuesday, September 11).

The detached house will now become a residential unit for three youngsters between the ages of eight and 18-years-old.

The application by PCF Residential Childcare Ltd stated it would be used for young people “experiencing developmental difficulties and problematic early life experiences including attachment disorder, emotional behaviours and moderate to low learning difficulties”.

Councillors backed the scheme despite claims by residents that there were already traffic problems in the area and the home could lead to further congestion.

Some residents also feared very young children at an adjacent school could be affected or influenced by the actions of young people with behavioural problems.

Recommending councillors approve the change of use, planning officers said: “It is considered that the size and scale of the building, the lack of any significant alterations and the nature of the care whereby a small number of children/young people live to offer a stable environment is akin to a residential use.

“There would be space within the site to provide amenity areas and parking for the proposal, and although fears of anti-social behaviour have been raised, West Midlands Police have not objected to the application.”

Councillors also passed a similar application for a two bedroomed residential children's care home in Linden Avenue after they heard objections from resident Valerie Bentley.

The scheme was for a respite home for youngsters with learning difficulties and autism looked after by two care workers.

Mrs Bentley said: “We don’t  think it’s a suitable location for such a facility.

“Our main concerns are nursing levels, two people with severe disabilities, one member of staff is not adequate.

“There will be drugs retained on the premises, there will be severe problems with parking there.  

“We are worried about drugs and we are worried about security.”

However Penelope Kelly, a director of Hap Care Ltd said:  “We think that Linden Avenue is an absolutely perfect location for this facility being in a residential area.

“We want to provide a home away from home for these young people whose parents, for whatever reason, can’t cope with them.”

She added the only drugs on the premises would be prescribed by the children’s GPs and there would be two care workers on site at all times.

Councillor Christine Perks, who backed the application, said she had extensive experience of working with youngsters with learning difficulties.

“These youngsters are just like your own sons and daughters and there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of and if you make friends with them, you will find they embrace your  lives as well.”

Committee members unanimously supported the scheme.