Residents’ anger at reprieve for Letchworth children’s respite home

Wilbury House

Wilbury House - Credit: Archant

RESIDENTS living near a children’s respite home claim the facility needs to be moved, after a council said they intended to keep it open for a further six months.

Herts County Council did intend to close down Wilbury House in Letchworth GC and relocate children to Ripon Road, Stevenage, but it has now agreed to give parents another six months.

But residents nearby have spoken out about keeping the home open.

Ian Mantle, of Wilbury Road, Letchworth GC, said: “No one has ever suggested that respite care should not be provided for the young people, it is just that Wilbury House is not the right place for it.

“It is in the middle of a residential area, no where near any sort of facilities for the young people.

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The 70-year-old added: “I think it is a shame that the building was put where it is, and a bigger shame that the county council seem unwilling to use it for its original and proper purpose, as a long stay residential facility.”

Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “There are serious issues relating to planning in terms of the size of the house, which is 20 per cent larger than the original plan.

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“In essence, HCC built a ‘mansion’, which has led, over time, to the intensification of use of the unit to the detriment of neighbours. This has been exacerbated by the fact that HCC is using the property for purposes for which it was never intended and which, we believe, constitutes an unauthorised use.

“I in no way have anything against children with disabilities, but I and other neighbours have suffered greatly.”

The authority will now have to decide whether to re-submit an application to the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation for a change to the terms of lease on the facility.

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