PROPOSALS to create a satellite centre for special school children with complex mental health needs at a former fuel depot looks set to be approved after planners found development consent dating from 2014 remains valid due to holes having been dug in the ground.

Hambleton District Council’s planning committee will on Thursday consider the Noble Charitable Trust’s application to create an outreach facility at Skutterskelfe, near Great Ayton for Breckenborough School, which is based 24 miles away outside Sandhutton, near Thirsk.

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The school, which offers day and residential placement for children with complex needs, including Pathological Demand Avoidance and Tourette’s Syndrome, wants to open a base in the northern part of Hambleton to complement its base near Thirsk.

The scheme comes eight years after the trust was granted consent to develop the site as a day and respite care centre for the Yatton House Society.

The society, which offers day placements for disabled people, had initially aimed to move into a new, two-storey building at Skutterskelfe by 2016, but has instead raised some £29,000 of the £50,000 it needs to help refurbish its Great Ayton base, including improvements to accessibility.

Residents living near the site have lodged a range of objections, questioning whether the original planning approval should remain valid, particularly due to the change of age range and type of attendee.

In one letter of objection, one resident questioned how much additional noise would be produced by Breckenbrough School, what activities are going to be carried out in the grounds and “how secure is the establishment given the type of people who are going to be visiting there?”.

A planning officer’s report to the meeting states after residents questioned the trust’s claims that groundworks were started on the site in 2017, agents for the trust submitted declarations and dated photographs to counter the accusations.

The officers’ report states: “Considering the evidence available and applying the correct legal test of ‘balance of probability’, it is found that work commenced on the development in 2017 and therefore the permission remains extant…”

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The planning report also rejects another objection over the change to the way the site would be operated, from occasional respite care to bed spaces used solely for infrequent overnight trips tagged onto an activity evening.

The officers’ report, which recommends the scheme should be granted, adds an issue raised on several occasions that the 2014 permission referred to adults with learning difficulties rather than children could be overcome by using the word ‘people’ rather than ‘adults’ on planning documents.

The report concludes: “It is considered that the proposed development will provide a much-needed service to the district.”


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