COUNCILLORS look set to approve controversial plans for accommodation for vulnerable young people, despite objections from residents.
The proposed application would see six log cabins sited at Green Lane Farm, in Neasham Road, near Hurworth.
Operated by a charitable organisation, the cabins would provide supported accommodation primarily for vulnerable pregnant women, unsupported mothers and young families between the ages of 16 to 25.
Under the proposals, to be considered by Darlington Borough Council's planning committee next week, a small car park and associated landscaping would be undertaken with existing stables extended into manager’s accommodation.
The planning application stressed that the cabins are not designed for long-term residency and the desirable, rural setting is needed to provide stability and enable vulnerable individuals and families the opportunity to leave their home environment to receive support from trained professionals.
Its assessment read: “The facility would enable users to develop a support plan with support workers and would also help users to develop the necessary skills to move onto independent living.”
Local residents, however, have raised concerns about the application.
A total of 57 letters of objection have been received.
Of particular concern is the isolated location of the proposed site, potential for an increase in anti-social behaviour from the cabin’s occupiers and a previous failed application for a similar scheme.
The previous proposal was refused in November 2006, due to the potential impact on the countryside, highway safety concerns and the un-sustainability of a project developed outside of defined development limits.
Planning officers have acknowledged that the current proposed development again falls outside the identified development limits of the borough of Darlington’s Local Plan.
The proposed site has no street lighting or access to public transport, and local residents believe such a development could lead to the sub-urbanisation of an area marked as Community Woodland.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England has also objected to the application, stating:
“There will be an unacceptable impact on the landscape of the surrounding area and the lack of a footpath into Darlington could bring road safety issues.”
Hurworth Parish Council also questioned the proposed log cabins.
Its objection read: “There are already 116 similar buildings which have received planning permission in the immediate vicinity of which only 20 have been built.
“There seems no immediate market or need for the log cabins.”
Despite the proposal proving contrary to development plan policy, planning officer believe that the proposed location is needed.
Papers prepared for members state: “The economic benefits for the proposal would be the creation of seven new jobs.
“The social benefits of the proposal would be the creation of a safe and therapeutic environment for both young mothers and vulnerable children, in a location removed from the urban area."
The committee meets on Wednesday, at 1.30pm, in the town hall.