Supported living application deferred due to fire and accessibility worries

Councillors voted unanimously to defer a decision on the Enfield Town property reports Grace Howarth, Local Democracy Reporter

A house at 24-26 Churchbury Lane in Enfield Town
24-26 Churchbury Lane (Credit – Google Street View)

A proposal for supported living accommodation has been deferred due to a lack of disability access and questions over fire safety.

The application for a supported living facility for 19 people at 24-26 Churchbury Lane in Enfield Town was submitted to Enfield Council by Paul Buxton, the husband of media commentator and GB News presenter Tonia Buxton. 

However councillors, housing campaigners, and residents have argued there was “no need in the borough for this type of accommodation” adding that the plans infringed on privacy, the fire safety report was questionable and the building’s disability adaptations poor. 

During a planning committee meeting this week (Tuesday 4th), Kieran McCarthy, a neighbour, called the proposal “highly disturbing” and said the inhabitants would be “existing in sub-prison accommodation”. 

The design had “no baths, inadequate wheelchair storage, wheelchair users were forbidden from working there, and no double bedrooms”. 

He added: “The landlord’s going to penny pinch the disabled into living alone in the building: the corridors, doors, bathrooms, and turning circles are all wrong.”

Town ward councillor Emma Supple, who requested the application be determined by a committee rather than a delegated authority, said: “We note that the inspectorate has moved to grant planning permission and he is not unhappy about size, the mass, the character, the build, the content.

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“However we very much are because there are concerns from local neighbours who have taken the side of those adults with disabilities who will be living in this space.”

She doubted 19 individuals with support staff, visitors, and only three parking spaces would manage. 

Cllr Supple added: “It really is just astonishing you’re taking our most vulnerable adults and squishing them in.” 

The application involves demolishing the current building at Churchbury Lane, a fairly new building with eight assisted living apartments and replacing it with a detached two-storey building.

This will house five ensuite wheelchair accessible rooms on the ground floor, along with communal space, a staff office and kitchen. Six self-contained apartments on the first floor, and six on the second. 

The disability access consultancy Proudlock Associates, who completed an assessment on the property, stated the development failed to meet the requirements in “many key areas”.

They said: “It is not readily apparent that the required regulation can be met without extensive reworking of the layouts and arrangements.” 

Another report from independent town planning consultancy Longman Planning Consultancy, who reviewed the fire strategy document, concluded the applicant hadn’t provided “the appropriate level or quality of information to ensure the safety of potential residents and staff in the event of fire”. 

Following discussions councillors unanimously voted to defer the decision on the account of a lack of privacy and inadequate quality of accommodation for disabled residents, which included issues with accessibility, size and mass.

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