MORE needs to be done to support autistic adults in Worcestershire, a campaigner has said.

Mary Dhonau, whose 18-year-old son Peter suffers from severe autism, has hit out at a decision to refuse planning permission for a home for autistic adults at Upper Ford Lodge in Elmbridge.

The development, which would have included eight assisted living apartments, was refused in February after planning officers at Wychavon District Council said it would constitute “inappropriate development” in the green belt – an area of land intended to prevent too urban sprawl.

Ms Dhonau said she and her ex-husband Mike had moved Peter to a specialist residential school in Shropshire three years ago, but needed to find him somewhere new now he is 18.

Worcestershire County Council has several other young persons with challenging and complex needs who also need provision,” she said. “Since the Winterbourne View scandal it is now widely recognised that it is vital that such young people live near to their parents.

“In addition it would be more cost effective.”

Ms Dhonau, who gained national fame for her work campaigning for better flood defences after her home was flooded twice in 2000 and again in 2007 and was awarded an OBE in 2009, said her son, stays with her and her ex-husband three weekends a month but they would like him to be able to live closer to home.

“Peter is by no means alone in his plight,” she said. “He and others risk being placed out of county, in some cases at the other end of the country.

“They need to be near mum and dad to be able to receive regular visits and trips home.

“Peter has no concept of danger and for that reason needs to be housed in a rural location, away from the dangers posed an urban environment, such as crossing the road etc.”

Managing director of Wychavon District Council Jack Hegarty said the authority was committed to working with Fortis to ensure the needs of autistic adults in the county were met.

“We fully recognise it is imperative to provide new specialist facilities for individuals with complex needs, such as the one proposed at Upper Ford Lodge”, he said.

“Unfortunately the site is not suitable for the desired development due to the harmful impact it would have on the Green Belt.”

He said planning officers were working with Fortis to find potential alternative sites.

“When considering any application as a planning authority we have to balance the various competing interests as well as ensure development is in agreement with local and national planning policy,” he said. “Unfortunately that wasn’t the case in this instance but we are hopeful a solution can be found.”

A spokesperson for Worcestershire County Council, which supported the application, said: "Without this accommodation it is possible the county council will have to look further afield, outside of the county, away from family members.

"We continue to support Fortis Living with any reapplication."

Fortis has since lodged an appeal against the decision.