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Pheasants Way home to be converted
A five-bedroom family home in Rickmansworth recently offered for rent at £2,500 per month is to be converted into a home for teenagers with behavioural difficulties.
The 1990s detached "executive home" in Pheasants Way had previously housed American diplomats and their families before Bettercare Keys Ltd rented the property.
On October 12, the Belfast-based company secured permission from Three Rivers District Council to change the building into a residential care home for up to four children with a live-in guardian.
The application was granted despite objections from eight Pheasants Way residents.
Since then, residents of Pheasants Way and the surrounding area have voiced their concerns about a possible increase in anti-social behaviour arising from the home.
One resident, who did not want to be named, said: "While we can empathise with a desire to enhance the lives of a few unfortunate children, there remains the fear that the neighbourhood would be blighted.
"Local residents were not informed or consulted, but it seems that the council has no requirement on them to do so."
Concerns were further raised when the company operating the home posted online adverts for staff in the town offering a £7.15 hourly wage and stating: "Experience working with young people with challenging behaviours is desirable but not essential".
The owners of the property are understood to currently be based in Scotland and have rented it out privately for several years. In a letter to neighbours they stressed the decision is not one they have taken lightly.
They said: "Although we are not living in the house, we are still care very much about both it and the neighbourhood.
"This is not intended to be a long-term arrangement.
"We thought long and hard before agreeing to rent our house out to this agency.
"Having spoken to some of their current landlords as well as the agency itself, we had our initial misgivings allayed."
A spokesman for Keys Childcare said: "Keys is an established and experienced provider of residential children’s care, education and therapeutic interventions, with a history of achieving positive outcomes.
"This small, much-needed home will provide a comfortable and nurturing environment for up to four vulnerable children from the local area.
"Working closely with local authorities and professional bodies Keys aim to ensure that each and every young person is placed in an environment that suits their individual needs.
"The company also puts community engagement at the top of its agenda to build positive relationships with the local neighbourhood.
"Being part of a supportive local community is an integral part of our ethos and as such neighbourhood dialogue is underway."