A CHILDREN’S home provider has been told it can use a house in Cwmbran for supported accommodation without having to apply for planning permission. 

Midway Transitional Solutions LTD, which moved its head office to the Mamhilad Business Park, near Pontypool, in 2018 and has worked with local authorities in South Wales since April 2016, will operate the four bedroom house in Waun Road, Cwmbran as a fully registered children’s home for up to two children. 

As well as the child residents who, according to information submitted to Torfaen Borough Council, will be aged approximately eight to 16-years-old, there will be two members of support staff at the house at all times. 

They will work in shifts from around 7.45am to 11pm and “sleep overnight at the property to safeguard the young people” before two more members of staff will start the next shift. 

The firm had asked Torfaen council to grant a certificate of lawfulness to state its planned use of the home is acceptable and wouldn’t require change of use planning permission. 

Planning officer Justin Jones said case law has established children on their own cannot be regarded as a household, in planning terms, as they need to be looked after and, although the rota staff wouldn’t be living at the home, it could be regarded as a C2 planning use which covers residential institutions. 

However though that meant the house would change from a C3 residential use that wouldn’t require a change of use planning application as there would be little actual difference to how the house is used. 

Mr Jones’ report stated: “In so many respects, the property would operate in a way that is very similar to a normal family home.” 

The only proposed changes to the building are to accommodate a staff office and bedroom on the ground floor, which Mr Jones said was no different to using a room in a dwelling house as a home office. 

Staff will also have use of a car to take the children to school and other activities, and it’s anticipated staff may drive to work meaning, other than at hand over times or when a manager visits, there would be no more than three cars in the street associated with the house, which has parking for two cars at the front. The reported noted there is no limit on how many cars a family in a house can own and that a shared house of no more than six people could be occupied by residents with as many cars. 

The application for a certificate of lawfulness was approved and Mr Jones said “the prevailing character of the proposed use would be that of a small group of children living together and using the property in a way similar to that of a family home where they would be supervised and cared for by adult guardians. 

“While there might be identifiable differences, between the proposed and existing uses, these would not be ‘material’.”