THE conversion of a picturesque stone-built cottage on the edge of a moorland village into a small care home for two teenage children with 'emotional behavioural difficulties' has been blocked.

In February, Mohammed Akram Dad applied for planning permission for the new use of Grange Cottage in Belmont Road, Belmont which had been on the market as a family home in 2021 for £650,000.

A supporting statement describes the property as 'a charming stone-built dwelling' with a large rear garden.

But now Blackburn with Darwen Council has refused approval after objections from the police, North Turton Parish Council and the authority's children's services department.

The proposal sought to turn the house into a residential children’s home for a maximum of two children (ages 11 to 17) with two carers sleeping overnight run by Stepping Stones Children's Homes Ltd.

The reasons for the refusal include that 'the development, by virtue of its failure to demonstrate a need arising from the requirements of people with a defined association with Blackburn With Darwen would create an unwarranted increase in the level of demand for public support services, to the extent that those services would deteriorate for existing users'.

They also highlight the site’s isolated location within protected 'Green Belt' countryside.

A report from planning office Martin Kenny says: "The site relates to an existing four-bedroom detached family dwelling in an isolated location to the South-West of Belmont village and within designated green belt.

"The site is accessed by a narrow track that links to Belmont Road.

"The supporting statement offers the following rationale: 'The home will provide accommodation, care and support for two children or young people aged 11 to 17 who have emotional behavioural difficulties. These individuals will receive 24-hour support, care and guidance towards achieving independent living / community integration. The ethos at Stepping Stones Children's Homes Ltd is to provide the highest level of care within the environment of a single 'typical' household.'.

"An objection has been received from North Turton Parish Council on the grounds of the remoteness and the lack of transport.

"An objection from Lancashire Constabulary has also been received, as follows: 'Lancashire has a disproportionately high number of Ofsted-registered children’s homes, at the time of writing this figure is 302. Around 60 per cent of the children accommodated in these homes are from outside the Lancashire area, this impacts significantly on local services, such as schools, health, and police.'

"The council’s children’s service’s consultee has offered an objection on the premise that the local authority area cannot support the likely impacts arising on public service provision.

"It adds: 'We need to advise you that we are not currently looking for any new providers in relation to a residential children's home.'."