Council set to take over new housing project on controversial site to accommodate autism service

  Posted: 16.09.20 at 15:42 by The Editor

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SENIOR Thurrock councillors will tonight (Wedneday, 16 September) be considering taking on a new autism service that would help prevent people from being sent out of the borough for support.

Members of the authority’s cabinet will hear about a proposal to take control of a supported housing site recently built on Medina Road in Grays because it does not have enough residential support services of its own.

Papers put before councillors explain that this has led to people being sent outside of the borough “away from their families and communities”, which can be costly to the authority.

So the council is looking at taking over a new build project run by the Peabody Trust in Grays.

The site, at the end of the Little Thurrock road, was commissioned and built by Family Mosiac, which merged with Peabody three years ago.

It was funded through the council’s bid for investment from the Government’s Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund and developed in partnership with Family Mosaic, which has its roots in the Catholic Housing Aid Association.

The site itself was the subject of local controversy with residents claiming the build project did not follow the guidelines in the planning permission granted by Thurrock Council – and they were annoyed that the permission was granted on 2018 by officers without a public discussion. A number of residents had opposed the project which was created on the site of former allotments.

Residents were concerned that local councillors had not been engaged in the discussions and felt the scheme, on the site of a former property at 28 Medina Road and adjacent to local allotments, was intrusive and imposing on the local area and had been pushed through unfairly. They claim that the individual dwellings have been built much bugger than they were intended to be.

Despite a number of complaints, the council said nothing improper had gone on and a statement was released to Thurrock nub news which said: “It is correct to say that there were 14 letters of representation, however given that the proposal was to redevelop an existing plot in a residential street this is anything unusual.

“In addition revised plans were received during the process and a further consultation took place so neighbours had a second opportunity to comment. The plans were all available for public viewing as per standard process so residents would therefore have been able to see the scale and nature of the buildings proposed. The LPA is not obliged to identify the number of storeys of a building in a description; there is nothing in the description that can be criticised as misleading.

“The design of the buildings is modern, but was considered to be high quality and appropriate. Government guidance is to encourage high quality design and not to unnecessarily replicate existing built form if another design is acceptable.”

The full planning report, which includes a list of neighbours’ objections, can be found " target="_blank">here.

If the plan is approved Medina House will be a specialist facility with six residential rooms, each with outdoor space, a shared lounge and accommodation of on-site carers.

Tonight’s report says: “The vision for the scheme is to support people with autism to live a full and independent life.

“This will be achieved through a detailed assessment which will include specialist care and support service and where appropriate, education, vocational and employment opportunities.

“The assessment of need will result in an individualised care plan for each person, this will cover every aspect of the person’s life.

“It will be expected that the person, their family and individual support will link together to ensure that the right service is accessed, or bespoke services are developed.”

The report goes on to explain there is an expectation that the numbers of young people with autism in Thurrock will increase.

A strategy developed by the council’s Adult Social Care team stated there will be an expected 13 per cent increase in the number of people aged between 18 and 64 with autism over the next 17 years.

This estimate is based largely on the number of younger people coming through from the Children’s Social Care department.

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