Hackney Council’s £1.2m Oxfordshire retreat signed off – leaving neighbours worried
- Credit: Archant
Hackney’s £1.2million family retreat mansion in a leafy Oxfordshire village has been given the green light – but neighbours are worried about who will be visiting.
Silver Trees, a seven-bedroom house in Kennington, was bought in February last year as part of an innovative project to provide short-term support to “at risk” families on the Family Learning Intervention Programme (Flip).
A maximum of three families, or 18 people, will visit the retreat for up to three weeks, supported by a house manager.
The idea is to give them a break from their daily lives while strengthening relationships and spending time together.
Initially, concern about crime and safety led to Vale of White Horse District Council asking for a 2.1-metre “anti-climb metal mesh fence”, six “dome cameras”, one “bullet camera” and outside lighting.
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But Hackney has now whittled that down to simply a fence, with no CCTV at all.
With that in mind, neighbours feel the “management plan” detailing who will be coming and how the scheme will be run is way too vague.
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“This plan is still wholly inadequate,” Kennington ward’s Cllr Edward Blagrove wrote in a report. “It should include details as to how families are selected for temporary residency at the property.”
“Should any participants not be deemed to be acting appropriately for the project the management plan should explain how these families will be removed from the property.
“Procedures such as warnings/exclusion should be included so that neighbouring residents are satisfied only those appropriate to the project as set out in the planning process are resident.”
He also said: “Given the transient nature of visitors it is highly possible and likely that neighbouring properties could be trespassed upon.”
As a result, a 2m fence has now been agreed for the border shared with the only neighbouring property – though its owners did have their plea for a higher barrier thrown out.
Hackney’s deputy mayor and children’s boss Anntoinette Bramble would not say when families would be moving in. She said: “Following discussions with the Vale of White Horse and local residents we are pleased our proposals have now been given final planning approval. Conditions are being finalised and we look forward to Silver Trees accepting families in due course.”