Troubled teens’ home proposed for village, but Leighton location is withdrawn


A care home for troubled teenagers has been proposed for Heath and Reach.

Charity Benjamin UK has applied to Central Bedfordshire Council for a certificate of lawfulness for a children’s home at Sandhouse Cottages, off Sandhouse Lane.

The application states: “We want to use the property to create a family home for four children who are looked after by the local authority.

“They are 12-18 years old and live as a normal family supported by two parents who work 16-32 hour shifts to ensure continuity.”

The children looked after by Benjamin UK have been placed into care, and according to the company many have mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder and relationship issues.

Benjamin UK submitted a similar application for a care home at Redwood Glade in Leighton Buzzard last month, but withdraw the proposal on November 9 – just weeks after submitting it.

Plans by the company to place a care home at the same site in 2014 prompted an angry backlash from local campaigners.

The current application to CBC has received around five letters of objection from the public.

MP Andrew Selous said it was important for charities to be mindful of local surroundings when choosing the locations of their homes.

He said: “It’s obviously a sensitive issue.

“These are damaged children even if they are untoward. They need to live somewhere and have proper care so that they can have a chance at gaining opportunities and living a constructive life.

“At the same time, I do very much feel for local residents when their lives are in some cases turned upside down.”

A notable dispute took place in Aylesbury last year, when AVDC councillor Steven Lambert demanded the closure of two Benjamin UK homes in the town after a string of complaints about anti-social behaviour.

This included a claim that one neighbouring family had moved to Cornwall to escape the problems.

Mr Selous added: “I just think we need greater sensitivity and understanding in the planning situation.”

A decision is expected to be reached on the application by December 22. Benjamin UK was contacted by the LBO but did not respond.