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HomeMore NewsBarnet residents object to supported housing scheme

Barnet residents object to supported housing scheme

Barnet councillors have approved a Monken Hadley housing scheme for adults with mental illness transitioning back into society.

The property at 2-3 Clyde Villas in Hadley Green Road, which is currently flats, will be converted into twelve self-contained bedsits with ensuites and kitchenettes, along with communal facilities, an office and bedroom accommodation for staff.

The building is locally listed and was constructed in 1871. It sits in a residential area near Hadley Common and St George’s Fields and the plans describe it as having a “relatively pleasant outlook”.

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The house is four storeys and has a garden area in the rear which currently contains a shed and is set to be converted into an activities room. No parking is planned in the proposal.

Officers recommended the scheme for approval at a planning committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday 19th) with the council’s adult social services also stating in the report their support for the application.

The need for transitional ‘C2’ accommodation in the borough was also noted. This refers to housing for people in need of care.

However, the application received 45 objections, including from the local MP and Hadley Residents’ Association.

Theresa Villiers, Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet, stated her belief the application should be refused despite acknowledging there was a need for this type of accommodation.

Villiers said she was concerned over comments that rooms did not meet minimum size requirements and the lack of off-street parking. She also said the proposal was  “out of character” for the area which largely comprises single family homes.

Local resident Stuart Bennett also claimed the plans were “misleading”, adding the level of severity of mental health conditions individuals had was not originally fully disclosed and the amount of staff monitoring proposed he deemed insufficient.

Stuart said the building was “too small” for twelve residents and the garden space that would be used for communal activities would disturb the residents next door.

He proposed the scheme be reduced to eight bedsits and be delivered by a charity, stating it was currently not driven by “the care needs of vulnerable people but by the commercial imperative of a private company”.

But Labour committee member Tim Roberts said developers Maison Moti had run other sites in Barnet “without any problems”.

Stuart said he wasn’t questioning the developers’ record, but the addition of the garden room and his belief there were too many people for the space.

Labour’s committee chair Claire Farrier asked what evidence Stuart had that there would be a disturbance from the facility, and asked to clarify why eight bedsits was okay but twelve was not.

Stuart said it was “purely numbers” and eight bedsits would remove the need for communal space in the garden.

Applicant Mostak Ahmed, Maison Moti’s managing director, said assumptions had been made about the behaviour of people with mental health issues, and there should not be concern over the developers wanting their clients to have “quality space and provision”.

The plan was originally to provide 14 bedsits, but this was reduced to twelve following a review. Mostak said eight was not viable given the “scheme, property and location”.

He added that the garden room being used for crafts and events would not be more disturbing than a family using the space and it was “unlikely” the property would be sold as a family dwelling.

Maison Moti began operating in 1993 and has supported in excess of 150 people at any one time, with not “one major incident” to date.

Cllr Farrier asked for a breakdown of the structure of the management, as well as whether local residents would be able to contact the organisation should there be a disturbance.

Mostak said the support staff would provide general monitoring, checking people took medication, and helping clients with their social lives. He said “most importantly” staff would check to see there were no relapses and, if there were, there would be an “early intervention” and the individual admitted to hospital.

He clarified that since this type of scheme was supported housing it was implied residents were independent up to a level and could care for themselves.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the scheme.

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