Delays hit conversion work on properties designated as children’s care homes

DELAYS have hit work to convert two properties in Tredegar into children’s care homes, but youngsters are expected to be moving in next summer – councillors will be told.

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At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Place scrutiny committee on Monday, November 13, councillors will be given an update on the work being done on the project.

The council bought two detached houses, called Madison House and Mon Calpe, which are located off Picton Road, Dukestown for the scheme and a change of use planning application was approved by the Planning Committee last March.

The delay is down to a number of factors highlighted in the report.

These include the need for the department to make financial savings and push costs of this project from this year to next year’s budget and the registration process for the homes.

The report said: “The business case presented previously offered an anticipated opening date of January 1, 2024.

“This is no longer an achievable target for this project.

“Mon Calpe will provide residential care for a maximum of four children.

“Madison House will provide emergency accommodation on a short-term basis for up to two children at any time.

“The second property (Madison House) will also provide move on accommodation for two young people aged 16 plus, acting as a steppingstone from residential care to independence.”

Following the costs associated with property purchases which were around £1 million, the council has £865,500 left of Regional Integration Capital Grant Funding which will be used to convert the properties.”

Councillors will be told that the project is at the design stage although it is expected that work provide an estimated total project cost and drawing up the project contracts ahead of the procurement process will be completed this month.

The council expects to award the contract to a building firm early in the New Year with the hope that the conversion will be finished in April 2024.

The report said: “The Care Inspectorate Wales registration process can take up to 14 weeks before the residential provision can become operational and for children to move in.

Working to this timetable the estimated opening date would be around the end of July.

The report said: “It is considered that this is an appropriate time to
consider moves for children from other provisions given the natural ending of
their academic school year.”

This would give the youngsters time to settle into a “new home” ahead of the new academic year which could also see them start at a new school.

The report added: “There is currently a group being led by a children’s service manager to identify the cohort of children who can transfer to our property once operational in 2024, thus reducing our reliance on for-profit private providers and meeting the Welsh Government initiative of eliminating use of these providers.”

During the planning process the council had received several objections from neighbours who raised fears of anti-social behaviour from the children who will eventually live there.

A residents liaison group has been set up to alleviate local concern about homes.

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