It never ceases to amaze me what some businesses try to get away with.
One street in Purley was a peaceful cul-de-sac until two months ago when a company specialising in the provision of social services to those with learning difficulties took a lease on a semi-detached family home (with paper-thin walls), and set about converting it into a hostel for seven or eight people. The neighbours endured much banging associated with building works and the installation of new plumbing, alarms, CCTV, and all the other paraphernalia associated with the hostel environment.
The company installed just one patient with one full-time carer, and then the trouble really started: the immediate semi-detached neighbours could hear swearing and screaming and loud noises through the thin walls as if furniture was being smashed up, and neighbours saw two carers vehemently arguing with each other in the public street. Things came to a head one weekend when the police were called twice within 48 hours, because the local residents could again hear shouting and screaming, and were scared for their safety and that of the unfortunate care worker who was on duty.
And all this was done without the company bothering to apply for planning permission for a change of use from a normal family home to a hostel! In addition, I and the neighbours were concerned that there might have been breaches of the regulations in these areas:
Registration with Care Quality Commission
Health and Safety of employees
Environmental protection (noise)
Registration of premises as a business
Commercial waste disposal
Council tax / business rates
As soon as I heard of this situation, I raised the alarm with senior Council staff and with the Council’s Chief Executive, as I believed that it was necessary to shut down this operation as soon as possible before it inflicted any more damage on the local community.
I’m delighted to report that this story has a happy ending – the company’s directors have finally accepted that a semi-detached family home in a quiet cul-de-sac is not the right place in which to establish a new care home catering for such severely handicapped patients, and we have been assured that the hostel will close in a few weeks. Needless to say, the residents and I are all VERY relieved.