CONTROVERSIAL plans for a Newent house to be converted into a care home for children with special needs has been approved.

Heartlands Group Ltd were granted temporary permission to change the use of 18 Onslow Road for three years.

The small care home will house up to three children aged seven to 17 with learning disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, developmental delay, epilepsy and moderate learning difficulties.

There will be 11 carers on a shift rota with three members of staff per shift.

Dozens of residents objected amid concerns over noise and that the care setting would be a challenging environment.

Phil Goulding, speaking on behalf of objectors in Onslow Road, labelled the planning report flawed.

He told the Forest Council development management committee that the scheme has a potential for “challenging and dynamic human interaction”, raising concerns that there had been 58 violent and sexual offences and 16 of antisocial behaviour and public disorder in a radius of 300m from the site.

“Statements used to inform the committee are misleading... a business proposal does not create a normal functioning household. Please consider carefully what business comes next.”

Wesley Baker, agent for the applicant, said: “The aim is to provide as normal living conditions as possible for the children.

“This is why we feel the home and location such as this is perfect to provide that opportunity.”

“There’s little to no change to the material use,” he added.

Councillor Julia Gooch (Progressive Independents, Newent and Taynton) said the area was developed as a residential and excluded business use.

“This is a for-profit business venture employing 11 members of staff working shift patterns throughout the day and night,” she said.

And Cllr Julie Hudson (LD, Newent and Taynton) added: “The garden is quite a limited space, part paved and the lawn is on a slope. It’s not ideal or beneficial for children to use their energy or if necessary let off steam.”

The committee granted permission for three years to assess noise and any antisocial behaviour issues that may arise.