Vulnerable children could be “drowned, electrocuted or crushed” in a proposed children’s home, a Potters Bar councillor has claimed.

At a meeting on Thursday, February 23, Hertsmere Borough Council’s planning committee discussed its “duty of care” in weighing up whether developers should be allowed to turn a residential house into a children’s home.

Cllr Christian Gray raised fears the location for the home near Aldenham and Radlett – next to sewage works, an electricity substation and a scrapyard – is inappropriate.

Herts Advertiser: The applicant's image featuring the house which could be turned into a children's home.The applicant's image featuring the house which could be turned into a children's home. (Image: Peter George Town Planning/Hertsmere Borough)

The committee has not made a final decision on the plans, and will wait until more information about neighbouring properties has come forward before making one.

A statement in the planning application sets out the property would “provide an environment as close as practically possible to normal family life”.

Cllr Gray said: “Let’s be fair, this is horrific, isn’t it? The clue’s in the title – a care home.

“Care. We’re going to drown them, electrocute them or crush them in a car crusher.

“If there isn’t a rule to say where care homes should be, then there should be a rule to stop this from happening.”

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He added: “We should not be sending vulnerable kids to this type of location to provide any level of care to be honest.

“It’s a circus of horrors.”

Cllr Seamus Quilty said the committee should defer the decision to council planning staff, who can make a final decision based in planning rules and law.

“It’s really tricky here because the officers are looking at this as a paper exercise,” he said.

Cllr Jeremy Newmark agreed and asked whether planning rules “trump” the council’s duty of care to children.


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A legal officer at the meeting said this is “absolutely correct” and added the welfare of children is “paramount” under the Children Act 1989.

A planning statement by the applicant’s team reads: “The ethos behind the applicant’s intended operations of this property would be for the residence to provide an environment as close as practically possible to normal family life in order to ensure that the children can live a life of normality in the local community.

“This approach can offer a better environment in comparison to larger institutions as they enable individual needs to be met and allow the children to integrate into their community and live as equal citizens.”

As a result, the building, which already exists as a private residence, would remain similar in style to its existing format.

The report additionally refers to an Ofsted report published in March 2022, which sets out the East of England has the second-least number of children’s homes, behind the South

“This indicates there is very likely a shortfall in this type of accommodation within the region,” the report notes.