Larne scheme could attract ‘the wrong kind of people’

This site of the proposed development at 4 Princes Gardens.  INLT 07-681-CON
This site of the proposed development at 4 Princes Gardens. INLT 07-681-CON

Residents in Larne’s Princes Gardens have banded together to oppose the proposed creation of a supported living scheme for young people.

Triangle Housing Association has lodged an application with planners that would see the demolition of the former children’s home at 4 Princes Gardens, to be replaced with a two-storey development catering for 16 to 21-year-olds who have left care.

The facility would consist of 12 one-bedroom apartments, with further provision for round-the-clock staff. The plans also include car parking facilities, landscaping and access works.

But residents of the street are determined to stand against the proposal, with their primary fear being the potential for noise and disturbance in an otherwise quiet residential area.

The Planning Service, who are minded to approve the application, have received a total of 13 letters of objection to the proposal.

At Monday’s meeting of Larne Borough Council’s public services committee in Smiley Buildings, a planning officer told elected members that the objections were “wide in their nature”.

As well as fears over anti-social behaviour, other concerns include over development of the site, changing the character of the street, loss of gardens and trees, loss of privacy, disruption to residents during the construction period, and that the development would be too close to the nearby Simon Community on Curran Road.

Alderman Roy Beggs asked that the application be deferred to allow an office meeting to be held, which would enable additional information to be considered by planners.

This was seconded by Cllr Brian Dunn, who added: “This is a complicated issue, and matters such as child protection need to be considered.”

While Cllr Dunn acknowledged the need for this type of accommodation, he also felt the facility could attract “the wrong kind of people”.

He added that the former children’s home on the site “used to attract undesirable adults”.

Cllr Drew Niblock said there was “nothing wrong with the application per se”, but voiced his concerns about the proposed location of the supported living scheme.

He highlighted that bed and breakfast facilities were also located in Princes Gardens and felt the proposed development could pose a threat to those businesses.

“The tourism industry hasn’t been exempt from the recession, and it could only take a bad review on a website such as Trip Advisor to close places like this down,” he added.

The planning officer agreed to defer the item for an office meeting to be held.