Felpham community open house left ‘heartbroken’ by council opposition

Children enjoying themselves at Olive Tree Cottage in Felpham
Children enjoying themselves at Olive Tree Cottage in Felpham

A mum who has opened up her home for disabled children and their families says she’s ‘heartbroken’ by objections from some neighbours and her parish council.

Samantha Staniforth, who runs Olive Tree Cottage from her home, said one of her mothers was left in tears by Felpham Parish Council’s decision to oppose her plans.

Samantha and her four children. She decided to open her house to other families because two of her boys have disabilities and it was so difficult to take them out

Samantha and her four children. She decided to open her house to other families because two of her boys have disabilities and it was so difficult to take them out

“It’s heartbreaking and feels very personal to me and the families we have here,” said Samantha. “I had a lady in yesterday in tears with a child who has cerebral palsy, similar to my son Noah.

“I just don’t know what to do, where else can those people go?”

Olive Tree Cottage, in Links Avenue, featured in the Observer earlier this month because of its growing popularity with families who have additional needs.

Samantha and husband Robert need planning permission to continue the not-for-profit venture.

The open house, in Links Avenue, Felpham, has grown in popularity since opening a few months ago

The open house, in Links Avenue, Felpham, has grown in popularity since opening a few months ago

They have submitted an application for partial change of use to a community open house.

Though more than 100 people have submitted letters of support, a number of neighbours are objecting to the application.

Samantha said none of the parish councillors had visited the cottage before deciding to formally object, and that she wasn’t given notice so she could attend its planning meeting last week.

Samantha said: “We are having problems with our neighbours ignoring us, too, and it’s just so upsetting.

“All in front of the boys as well, which is hard on them.

“I just don’t see what we are doing that is making people so angry. It’s all so upsetting.”

Felpham Parish Council’s formal objection states: “We believe that this would appear to be a fully commercial situation and operating outside of the planning law.

“There is also a great disruption with parking, noise and pollution.”

It added: “This is a commendable idea but definitely in the wrong place.”

Arun District Council planners are set to make a decision next month.

To view the plans click here