Caught up in the midst of a battle over the future of a proposed care home for those with learning disabilities in Andover is Kate Hitchings and her 20-year-old son Connor.

Connor has required full-time care throughout his life as he suffers from global developmental delay, an umbrella term covering a range of conditions that affect physical and mental development.

“He always needs someone there to enable him to live a life like anyone else,” said Kate. “Ultimately, I’ve been that person because I’m his mother.”

In the past few years, she says that she has begun considering supported accommodation for Connor as she is ‘reaching her limit’ of what she can offer him.

She said: “His relationship with me is incredibly intense as he won’t leave me alone because he loves me so much. I’m on my own with him so it’s become a situation where I feel him having his own home would benefit him, as well as myself, and change the dynamics of our relationship.”

When looking for potential homes, Kate said that local facilities tended to cater to older residents than Connor, and that it was speaking with Maddison Taylor, his support worker at Andover and District Mencap, that first got the ball rolling on the Creepers Cottage proposal.

Following discussions with her father, Maddison told Kate that she intended to convert her family home into residential accommodation for up to six residents, with staff to be mainly those who knew Connor already.

Kate said: “That was music to my ears as he wouldn’t have to leave the local area and would still have links to his peers and family. I trust Maddie with my son’s life, she’s a remarkable young lady who really wants to do good for young people and I have every trust in her to do that.”

However, following an objection being raised by the environmental health team that led to the plans being refused, Kate says she was ‘hurt’ by the comments.

“My son isn’t an angel,” she said, “but when he is supported in the right way and engaged with, you literally eliminate 95 per cent of any potential behaviours. He has to be supported to access things in his community and they’re not giving him this opportunity. If Maddie’s house isn’t the right place for him then where is?

“Are we going back to the years where they’re literally locked in institutions, and I hate that word, but is that what they’re expecting? It doesn’t make sense!”

Kate says that while she hopes the refusal of the application will be overturned, it doesn’t change the comments that have been made.

“The fact is the comments from the environmental protection team are wrong, I feel, and it’s a perception and assumption that people with additional needs will cause a nuisance.

“They could say it’s not personal and we have to be seen to mitigate any potential noises but it still comes down to the fact that they’re saying young people with additional needs are noisier than a household of six people.”

Kate intends to help fight the refusal, and bring some change to how those with disabilities are treated in Andover.

“The world of these young people is quite small and we have to fight for everything,” she said. “It is a complete and utter fight from the moment they’re born just for the stuff they need, let alone what they want.

“It’s not right to get to this stage where I’m trying to find a home for Connor where he will be looked after and loved and to integrate into the community and have the door shut in our face.

“I’m going to kick it down.”