Helping youngsters with complex difficulties
Plans to transform a closed down pub in Exeter into a children’s home have been approved.
The Globe Inn in Clifton Road, which dates back to 1844, closed in July 2019 following a licence review which imposed conditions that the pub tenant stated they were unable to comply with and operate the business successfully.
There had also been numerous complaints of noise and anti-social behaviour had been reported to the council and police.
In the summer of 2020, plans to change the use of the building into a children’s home to provide beds for eight children were submitted, and Exeter City Council’s planning committee, when they met on Monday night, approved the scheme.
They heard that applicants Central and Southern Homes Limited had been working closely with Devon County Council children’s services to create a supportive five bedded property in Exeter called The Globe that caters for young people between the ages of eight to 18 years old with emotional and behavioral difficulties who potentially will have suffered traumatic experiences or disrupted attachments.
Councillors also heard that the owners of the pub had marketed the property widely and of the offers that had come in, only one came from a known pub operator although it was one that had a recent track record of converting them to residential.
Central and Southern Homes Ltd, in their statement with the application, had said: “The Globe is proposed to be the first of ten homes set to be established in the next five years with the core objectives of providing the highest quality of care, with the best living environments alongside a proactive engagement with the wider community in which they reside.
“The provision of a children’s home is considered to be an important community facility particularly so when Devon County Council have not placed all local children within the county.
“The Globe Inn presents a rare opportunity to provide a sizable children’s home in a city centre location yet in a quiet residential neighbourhood. The location allows the young people to have the perfect opportunity to easily be able to take advantage of the city’s fantastic resources, clubs and activities and through the support and care of Central and Southern Homes Ltd become active members of the local community and positively feedback into society.”
They added there is a need for more children’s homes in Devon as in 2018-19, Devon’s Children’s Service placed 71 of 120 children outside of the county because of the shortage, and the covid crisis has exacerbated the problem.
The upper floors of the home will be for children aged between 8 and 16 but with each referral an impact assessment will be carried out to ensure that each young person will fit into the dynamics of the group.
The three ground floor apartments, for 16-18 year olds, will be focused on developing independence and life skills before leaving care, including through getting these young people into voluntary work, work experience/placements or continued education.
Devon County Council is also expected to carry out regularly visits on the home, which will be Ofsted inspected, and there will be a minimum of 3 staff in the children’s home every day.
Recommending approval, planning officers said: “The council must be mindful of the fact that Clifton Road does retain one public house, The Clifton Inn. Newtown is not, therefore, left without any local meeting places. It is also in close proximity to the city centre where many other public houses exist within a short walk of the area. Consequently, the loss of a pub here, while regrettable, would not have the same impact as, for instance, a rural village losing its only inn.
“It is also important to add that a children’s home would itself be an alternative community facility. Whilst very different in character and nature, not least in that it would not be a meeting place for local residents, it would provide a service that meets the community and welfare needs of the area.”
Cllr Rachel Sutton, deputy leader of the council, said: “It is always difficulty where you have one business in a residential area and in changes to something else, but there is no market for anyone taking this on as a pub, so it just isn’t going to work.
“This is for a home for some of the most vulnerable children in the society – looked after children – and they do need a lot of support, and the applicant has a strategy and the staff in place for the support, and these children deserve the opportunity. If they are to grow into responsible members of the community then we have to have them in the community.
“You cannot just plonk them on the outskirts, and I was shocked to hear that 71 or 120 children placed out of the county due to a lack of places. That’s just awful. This is a good application on balance, and I wish the young people living there well.”
Cllr Rob Hannaford added: “It is always sad to lose community facilities and pubs, but we know this is what the future may look like for some of the establishments in the city. I hope this unit will be a success and gives some support and independence to young people.”
And Cllr Phil Bialyk, leader of the council, said: “We want children to be fully rounded in society and make them feel a part of a community. We want young people to be valued members of society.”
Councillors voted by nine votes to one, with one abstention, in favour of the change of use application for the former Globe Inn to become a children’s home.