Olive Tree Cottage application recommended for refusal again

Samantha Staniforth with her four sons, two of which have disabilies, which prompted her to open her house
Samantha Staniforth with her four sons, two of which have disabilies, which prompted her to open her house

The fate of an open house for children with disabilities and their families will be decided at the end of the month.

Samantha Staniforth desperately hopes Olive Tree Cottage - which she runs from her Felpham home - will be granted planning permission to continue on March 29.

However, having already seen a previous application turned down by officers, the application has again been recommended for refusal as it goes in front of Arun’s planning committee.

Samantha admitted she was ‘not surprised’ but ‘really disappointed’ by the recommendation.

She added: “As it is going to committee hopefully it will make a difference. We can stand up and explain and because of all the support it has.. hopefully they will listen.”

The agenda for the meeting lists the representations received including 165 letters of support and seven letters of no objection.

One is attributed to councillor Rapnik and states: “Nimbyism at its best. The lady really cares about these children and yet respects her neighbours and causes no inconvenience to them.”

Also listed are ‘38 objections, 34 attributable to the direct local area including one from a councillor’ which cite the predominantly residential area and ‘additional vehicle pollution’ among the reasons.

Comments from councillor English, a councillor for neighbouring ward of Felpham East, are included.

He stated residents within the area ‘are still being put through a great deal of stress’ due to ‘unsocial’ parking.

Cllr English added while ‘the matter has come under a great amount of emotion’ the ‘facility has still grown out of all proportion to what was originally started and understood by Arun Planning’.

He acknowledged ‘although the support and use does demonstrate a need’ for the open house ‘it is totally in the wrong place’.

Speaking to the Observer Samantha said: “We’re crossing our fingers and really hoping this time it goes through because we’ve become a lifeline for the families we support.

“We’ve been open for nearly a year now and this fight has been very draining but we have to succeed for all of our lovely families.”

She says she is heartened by the lovely letters of support lodged to the council.

Samantha believes by restricting the opening hours and days, and making other changes, she has overcome the reasons for the previous refusal.

She said: “Lots of people say we’re a home from home and it’s hard to see why people have taken issue.”

Two of her four children have disabilies and the difficulty taking them out prompted her to open up her Links Avenue home.

The officer report states the reasons for refusal as including the ‘prominent corner location and commercial nature with unlimited visiting customers’ generates an ‘unacceptable level of noise and disturbance to the residential amenities of neighbouring dwellings and the surrounding residential environment’.

It concludes: “The Local Planning Authority has acted positively and proactively in determining this application by identifying matters of

concern with the proposal and discussing those with the applicant. However, the issues are so fundamental to the proposal that it has not been possible to negotiate a satisfactory way forward and due to the harm which has been clearly identified within the reason(s) for the

refusal, approval has not been possible.”

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