A FELPHAM family’s latest bid to run their home as a community open house has been defeated.
Councillors rejected the second proposal by Robert and Samantha Staniforth to achieve planning approval for the house, pictured above, to be used by up to 20 people four days a week.
The facilities help families with special needs children but Arun District Council’s development control committee ruled on Wednesday they were unsuitable in a residential area.
The committee voted by 13-2 the commercial nature of the venture in Links Avenue, and a potentially unlimited number of visitors, generated an unacceptable level of noise and disturbance to the neighbours.
Committee members sympathised with Mr and Mrs Staniforth but said they regarded the venture as commercial.
Cllr Gill Madeley (C, Felpham W) said in a statement: “Olive Tree Cottage has become a commercial enterprise. It is clear that this has become far bigger than perhaps even the owners had expected.”
Mrs Staniforth told the committee she and her husband – two of whose four children have special needs – had begun the open house at OIive Tree Cottage last April .
Its popularity had grown as word had spread about the love and help which was provided there.
“The support we offer works because it’s like coming into a family house and everybody is relaxed. It would not work in formal surroundings,” she said.
“It looks like any other house in the road because it’s our home. We are not commercial.”
She said the family had agreed to a limit of 20 people in the house at any time and would only open from 10am-4pm Wednesdays to Saturdays.
If they gained permission, they also accepted it would be personal to them and would end if they moved.
“Some days we don’t see anyone,” she said. “We had seven people all week last week. Most large families down our road will have a similar number of visitors a week.”
Terry Ellis, of Arun Access for the Disabled, said “I have told Mrs Staniforth what happens with planning applications because decisions are based on facts and this is a very emotive thing which is happening.
“There is a lot of conjecture made about what happens in Olive Tree Cottage and what might happen to Olive Tree Cottage. People visit there because they are looking for a refuge of peace and quiet in their lives.”
But parish and district councillor David Edwards, speaking for a group of reidents, said the previous plan for the open house was refused by Arun last September.
“This business has since continued to operate from a small family home in the heart of a quiet residential neighbourhood.”