Plans to potentially move 60 separated migrant children into a former care home have been scrapped.

Hertfordshire County Council shared that it was looking at plans to use Heath House in Elstree Road, Bushey Heath, as a home for children aged 16 to 18 last month but has now ruled the location out.

The decision followed an initial ‘scoping exercise’ which included contacting locals, assessing the site, and reflecting on the size and scale of the proposed facility, the council confirmed yesterday(February 1).

Councillor Fiona Thomson, who is responsible for children’s services in the county, said: “We’re committed to providing a safe place to live and opportunities to succeed for the vulnerable children we have a legal duty to support, including separated migrant children.

“We will continue to explore potential locations for innovative integrated facilities across Hertfordshire to support all children in our care, as part of our ambitious residential strategy and will always work closely with local communities as we develop our plans.”

Watford Observer: Heath House, Elstree Road, Bushey Heath.Heath House, Elstree Road, Bushey Heath. (Image: Google Maps)

Heath House was always presented as just one potential location for the facility, which remains necessary as Hertfordshire is currently caring for 163 separated migrant children, who are mostly over 16 years old, according to the latest budget papers.

There is a statutory duty for the council to accommodate and educate the kids, but without a dedicated facility, foster care, and semi-independent residential setting, costs are piling up.

A council spokesperson added: “Plans for facilities to provide the best support for children in care, including separated migrant children, that would bring together a range of services to provide education, vocational courses, sports facilities, life skills, health services, and accommodation continue to be developed.

Watford Observer: Heath House, Elstree Road, Bushey Heath.Heath House, Elstree Road, Bushey Heath. (Image: Google Street View.)

“Heath House remains the property of Hertfordshire County Council and options for its redeployment for an alternative use by one of our services will be considered.”

The proposal would have seen £1.5million in funding for works to create a ‘Heath House Campus’, which would provide classroom spaces, meeting rooms, a training kitchen, and sports facilities.

It would also have been usable by some young people leaving care and those who struggle to access mainstream education provision.