Plans to convert a house into a teenage care home have been approved by the local council, despite neighbours worries that the site will become “unbearable” and attract teenagers from “extremely disturbed” homes.

Greenwich Council has approved plans for a family home in Eltham to be converted into a care home for three 16 to 18-year-olds who may have spent time in care.

Council documents stated the individuals in the home may come from “troubled backgrounds”, but will only move to the house when they are deemed ready to do so. The children will also be expected to attend college, work or other leisure activities that young people would typically be involved in. Those living in the two-storey house will have their own bedroom, with a communal kitchen area also being available.

Planning documents said: “A team of skilled staff will be on site 24 hours a day to help safeguard and support the young people’s carefully managed transition to independence, in a safe and nurturing environment.”

The topic was discussed at a planning meeting for Greenwich Council on June 27. The proposal had received 13 objections from neighbours of the house following a public consultation. Sarah Hackwood, who lives next door to the property, said she was worried about the background of the teenagers living in the house, despite realising the need for such housing in Greenwich.

News Shopper: Kathryn Porter with her daughter Hannah, speaking at the Greenwich Council planning meeting on June 27Kathryn Porter with her daughter Hannah, speaking at the Greenwich Council planning meeting on June 27 (Image: Greenwich Council)

She said at the meeting: “This proposal has left me feeling anxious and upset. What will happen if things go wrong or a situation gets out of hand? If living next door became unbearable, what would happen then?”

Jane Slade, another neighbour of the house, said many elderly people live in the area who are vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and crime. Ms Slade also said there was a possibility the teenagers living in the property could come from “extremely disturbed” homes involving a history of violence.

Labour Councillor Gary DIllon, chair of the planning board, said that he was disappointed by the use of the word “offender” by residents when giving examples of the types of individuals who may live in the care home. He also pointed out that the accommodation would be a much needed facility for children leaving orphanages and foster homes in the borough.

Cllr Dillon said at the meeting: “I’m just wondering if there’s a bit of prejudgement here for the worst case scenario, because every speaker that’s come in front of us tonight has cast a very dark shadow over the potential occupants of this property.”

Labour Councillor Matthew Morrow, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People for Greenwich Council, said at the meeting that more placements were needed for children within Greenwich and London as a whole. He also said he was saddened by the residents’ objections regarding potential crime in the area, and that the young people in the home were more likely to have had crimes committed against them than be offenders themselves.


Cllr Morrow said: “They are individuals deserving of support, and deserving of a chance to build skills and build their confidence to become happy, successful young people.”

Hannah Porter, the daughter of Kathryn Porter who applied to open the care home, said she understood the anxiety that neighbours were feeling regarding the initiative. She also said she had over ten years of experience in social care and intended to work full time at the care home once it had opened.

She said at the meeting: “It’s not a halfway house, it’s not somewhere they just come and stay for a few weeks and then leave. We’re not doing right by them if we’re not keeping them there for a period of time and making sure that they are fully prepared for independence.”

At the meeting, the planning committee voted to approve the plans to convert the family home into a teenage care home.