Concern over family assessment unit

People living next to a planned new family assessment unit in Kingswood have raised fears over anti-social behaviour and parking problems. The unit will be created in a quiet cul-de-sac and used by social workers to assess if troubled parents are capable of caring for their children.

A three-bedroomed house on Woodchester will be converted into a family assessment unit after South Gloucestershire Council granted planning permission.

Councillors on the development management committee on February 15, heard concerns from some neighbours.

The unit will provide a safe environment for children or babies and their parents to receive support for about 12 weeks, and then return to independent living if safe to do so. But residents living nearby said the parking and nature of the clients could lead to their houses losing value.

One resident said: “There’s understandably a high level of upset and anxiety about the proposed plans, with unfamiliar residents moving in and out of the family assessment unit every 12 weeks, and a high turnover of staff, support workers and visitors. We’re highly concerned about the possibility of anti-social behaviour. Woodchester has very little space leftover for additional parking.”

Referrals would be taken from local authorities and family solicitors. The maximum number of clients would be three mothers or fathers with one child each. There would be a maximum of three family support workers during the day but only one support worker at night.

Occupants would not be allowed visitors to the property. Interaction between parents and their children would be assessed by family engagement workers, a psychologist and social workers. Some neighbours objected to the plans because they feared the family assessment unit would increase traffic and make it harder for them to park their cars.”

Councillors on the cross-party committee voted to approve planning permission for the unit.

By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service