By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
A children’s home closed by Nottinghamshire County Council following concerns over staffing and standards has now been sold by the authority.
Minster View, in Southwell, was temporarily shut by the council in December 2020 over what it described as an “emerging picture” of “lacking best practices”.
These were compounded by pandemic-related staffing challenges, which ultimately led to councillors describing the home as “not fit for purpose”.
Five children living in the home, off Normanton Road, had to be re-homed and costs relating to the relocation totalled almost £1.7m.
This included four children moving into private placements and the fifth into another council-run home.
At the time, the authority said there were “no proposals to permanently close” the home.
But the decision to close the home for good was made in December 2021 when council chiefs described the site as an “old Victorian institution”.
The decision was made during a shift towards smaller homes based in residential parts of the county which replicate traditional home environments.
The authority said it was a “significant decision” but one that was the “best thing we can do for the future care of children”.
Now new council papers have revealed the home has been sold because it is “surplus to requirements”.
A property listing posted online by Innes England says the site has “development potential” and is an “excellent opportunity for [a] care home operator or developer”.
It adds: “The property is a detached brick-built, two-storey former care home centrally positioned within its own secure plot.
“The property is configured internally to provide a series of rooms [on the] ground floor such as lounge, office, creative, dining and welfare areas.
“The first floor is accessible by a passenger lift or one of two stairwells. The first floor primarily comprises 16 bedrooms – each with its own wash handbasin – but also houses additional office and welfare.
“Externally there is landscaping to the rear and parking to the front elevation, an additional car park is also available.”
The council says “a number of bids” were received by Innes England by the end of March, though the final costs of the sale have not been disclosed.
But in a report, the authority said: “Minster View is surplus to the future property requirements of the council.
“The property is vacant and, if retained with no future identified need, would mean the ongoing maintenance, security and insurance for the building remaining as a financial burden.
“Thus retaining the property is not a feasible option.”
Speaking when the decision was made to permanently close the home, some councillors said it had an “institutional feel”.
Cllr Sinead Anderson (Con), who represents Mansfield West, said in December 2021: “It was the view of senior officers at the time that it would’ve been unsafe to keep the home open.
“This was a very difficult decision to make and sadly resulted in five children being transitioned into alternative homes.
“The current building has an institutional feel at odds with the homely atmosphere children should experience.”
The sale of the home was approved on Monday (June 5) during a delegated decision by Cllr Keith Girling (Con), cabinet member for asset management.
Speaking after the decision, Cllr Francis Purdue-Horan (Ind), of the Independent Alliance opposition group, said: “We are pleased Minster View has been sold.
“It has cost taxpayers millions of pounds sitting empty [and] has been a huge contributor to the continual overspends in the children and families department.
“This decision has taken far too long but we hope that any money gained from any sale will be spent wisely and invested in the needs of our most vulnerable young people.”