Supported living scheme approved for Sunderland residential street despite concerns about parking

A supported living scheme for young mums and babies has been given the green light on Wearside – despite concerns over the location and traffic issues.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 6:38 pm

Earlier this week, Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways (East) Committee were asked to consider a planning application for a property on Cartwright Road.

This included changing the use of the building from a standard residential use to “supported living accommodation for two mothers and respective babies with support staff in residence.”

The applicant was listed as ‘HMO Northeast T/A Forevercare’ with mothers and babies expected to stay at the property for up to around 26 weeks.

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Cartwright Road, in Sunderland, with Castle View Academy on the left. Picture: Google.

According to a report prepared for councillors, the staff support is “mainly designed to be light touch” and is based around “observing the health and wellbeing of mothers and their babies and the relationship between them.”

During consultation on the plans, concerns were raised by neighbours with a 26-signature petition submitted from residents of Cartwright Road and the adjacent Hylton Castle Road.

One of the main issues included wider traffic problems in the area linked to visitors to the nearby Castle View Academy and its sports facilities.

At a meeting to decide the application, all three Castle ward councillors raised concerns about the suitability of the supported living scheme, given the existing parking issues.

This included “police patrols having to keep the peace” due to disputes over parking and the lack of formal parking restrictions.

Ward councillors added they had worked with council highways officers to find solutions without success, and suggested that the supported living development would make the situation worse.

Castle councillor, Stephen Foster, also called for the planning application to be deferred until the parking issues are resolved.

In a report prepared for the planning committee, council planning officers recommended the supported living scheme for approval and deemed it acceptable in policy terms.

Although council highways officers acknowledged the parking issues in the area, in a report they said the proposed development “would not result in a significant increase in parking demand above the existing use as a family home.”

A number of planning committee members said stalling the planning application over existing parking issues would be unreasonable.

Meanwhile, Councillor Niall Hodson said a lot of the discussion around the plans “penalised a perfectly justified application.”

While supporting the principle of the scheme, some planning committee members also raised concerns about the location of the accommodation.

Councillor Karen Noble said: “These young people need a chance and these young people need support […] but I just don’t feel as comfortable as some [councillors] around the actual location.

“The parking is not an issue for me, it would be more the residents and the way they feel already, the way they have already made their views clear, the location of the school and the location of St Margaret’s Court.”

Councillor Michael Dixon added he couldn’t accept arguments about parking on planning grounds but stressed ward councillors were “perfectly right” to make cases for residents.

Noting the “rather obtuse location” of the supported living scheme, Cllr Dixon also appealed to the applicant to manage the development well to help “protect these people and the babies and make sure there isn’t any future problems for them.”

It was approved by six votes to three, with one abstention.

An agent for the applicant said staff visiting the property would be made aware of busy periods when parking issues occur, such as Saturdays.

A report prepared for councillors added the development would be regulated and “is intended to be subject to OFSTED accreditation”.

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