Objections received to proposed children's homes in Stockton area

First published in News

NEARLY 140 people have objected to proposals to create children's homes in their communities.

Stockton Borough Council's planning committee is due to consider two 'change of use' applications to turn residential homes on Darlington Road, Hartburn and The Old Vicarge at Stillington into children's homes.

Controversially the council has already bought the homes for a combined cost of £1m even before change of use has been considered by the planning committee.

That has led to complaints of lack of transparency, including from former leader of the council and leader of the Conservative Group, coun Ken Lupton.

A third property, at Thorpe Thewles has already been bought and permission granted to create a children's home and the council, and it's child expert partners, Spark of Genius is looking to either buy or a build a fourth and final children's home.

The change of use applications will be considered at Stockton Tabernacle on Wednesday, June 18 at 1.30pm.

The council's £2m scheme is designed to bring 20 looked-after children, aged from eight to 18, back to the area with five children in each home. The authority has already refurbished King Edwin School, in Stockton, and expects to save £400,000 a year and create 100 jobs by bringing children currently sent elsewhere back to Stockton. The authority currently spends about £3.5m a year sending looked-after youngsters outside of the borough.

A total of 58 letters of objection and six letters of support has been received by the council in connection to the Hartburn house on Darlington Road. Many of the objectors have cited worries about an increase in anti-social behaviour as well as traffic issues.

Fears were also raised in the planning committee report by Stockton Police's Crime and Prevention Architectural Liaison Officer who is not named in person but said: "These type of premises have the potential to increase incidents of crime and disorder."

Coun Ken Lupton also registered his objections citing a lack of transparency but also worries about traffic and crime and disorder.

A total of 79 letters of objection were received in relation to the Stillington home and four in support. There was also an objection from the governing body of the William Cassidi CE Primary School which is next door to The Old Vicarge. The school body said: "Most worrying is the perception the school would be unable to adequately protect its children and as a result children will be withdrawn from our school."

However on this occasion a Cleveland Police spokesman supported the application in the report. A statement said the children; "were unlikely to impact on levels of crime or anti-social behaviour."

The change of use applications will be considered at Stockton Tabernacle on Wednesday, June 18 at 1.30pm.

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