Yarmouth independent school given green light

A CHARITY supporting vulnerable young people in Norfolk has been backed by planners in its bid to launch a new independent school and children’s home.

The Benjamin Foundation wants to transform the former children’s services offices at 22 Euston Road, Great Yarmouth, into a residential home for looked-after children aged 12-16, for whom there is no provision in the town and not enough county-wide.

The building, which is close to the town centre and seafront, was earmarked by the North Walsham based charity as a suitable area for the living, learning and leisure facilities for eight looked-after children - who otherwise could face living in a different county isolated from family and friends.

A planning application was submitted to Great Yarmouth Borough Council, but was met by objection during a development control meeting this week as one Yarmouth hotelier feared it could “increase episodes of anti-social behaviour”.

Richard Allen, of The Chateau Hotel, in North Drive, said: “While I have no problems with a children’s centre and school, I feel that by being residential, rather than day time only, this could have potential to lead to increased episodes of anti-social behaviour in the area of Norfolk Square (ornamental gardens near the proposed site), not necessarily just by the residents, but also from others who would try to gain access to them.”

He added: “Should there be an increase in late-night noise or anti-social behaviour on the Square, then in today’s environment, and in a world of internet reviews it would not take many bad remarks on such websites to have a significant impact on our business.

But Cllr Trevor Wainwright, deputy leader for the Labour group, rejected Mr Allen’s comments as “over the top.”

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He said: “I think that you have gone over the top - these are not children which are causing ant-social behaviour. They are vulnerable. We need facilities to look after these children.”

And fellow Labour councillor Mick Castle added: “I think it is a very positive thing and the Benjamin Foundation have a fantastic way of working with young people.”

The proposed children’s home will be registered and inspected by Ofsted. The Benjamin Foundation is lead by its founder and chief executive Richard Draper.

The plans were approved during the meeting at Yarmouth Town Hall on Tuesday night.