A cottage will be used as a “residential institution” for vulnerable children despite concerns raised by residents living nearby.
Plans had been submitted on behalf of care company A Wilderness Way to convert Oakwood Bank Cottage, in the village of the same name near Hexham, to a residential home.
Planners told members of Tynedale Local Area Council that a maximum of one child would stay at the site at any one time, for a period of up to 12 months. Alongside this, there would be a maximum of three members of staff on-site at all times – two carers and one manager.
However, the plans had received six objections from local residents, citing a lack of communication with the public from the applicant as well as parking issues and the potential impact on neighbouring house prices.
Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the local area council, AWW’s associate director of operations Simon Barton explained how the development would work.
He said: “AWW was formed just under 16 years ago. Our aim is to better the lives of children, many of whom are considered to be among the most vulnerable in the UK.
“They have been exposed to abuse, neglect and exploitation. We are a care company that doesn’t want children to be in care. In the majority of cases, we simply fit into the community.”
Mr Barton added that living in the “incredible surroundings” of the Tyne Valley provided the opportunities for “truly life-changing activities and experiences” for the children.
Despite the objections from residents, planners had recommended the proposals for approval – and councillors voted unanimously to grant permission.
Coun Nick Oliver said: “I think there was a previous application just up the hill which had a lot wider public objection, which was rejected. The notable difference was police had serious concerns about the last one, but they don’t have any here.
“That should be some comfort.”
Coun Derek Kennedy added: “I recognise there’s some local concern, but we have to look at the bigger picture. This is going to provide an essential service to vulnerable children.
“I do believe the local residents will come to accept that this actually is a positive thing for the community and there will be little or no impact on their lives. This should be welcomed by the community and the council.”
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