Plans for controversial children's home in Hunwick withdrawn

CONTROVERSIAL plans to change a family home into a residence for children with behavioural problems have been withdrawn.

Around 170 people had objected to the proposed change of use of Lilac House in Hunwick with 430 also signing a petition against the plans.

Now Empowering Youth to Enable Success (Eyes) has withdrawn the plan from Durham County Council’s planning department.

A spokeswoman for the council confirmed the withdrawal although no further information could be given about why.

The Northern Echo also contacted Eyes but received no reply at the time of going to press.

Residents, councillors and North West Durham MP Pat Glass had all objected to the scheme on the council’s planning website while hundreds also attended a meeting with planning officer Colin Harding to express their opposition in October.

Mr Harding recently submitted an update on the council’s website in which he said more information was being requested from the applicant to address some of the concerns of the objectors, shortly after which the plans were withdrawn.

Eyes had said the home would house up to four youngsters aged between 11 and 16 who have suffered various forms of abuse and struggle to make attachments to family life.

They said being in Hunwick would have removed the youngsters from the negative peer pressure of large towns and the home's aim was to provide a safe, structured, nurturing, caring, and homely environment.

But residents feared the home would disrupt life in the village, increase anti-social behavior and the youngsters housed at Lilac House would not benefit from being in Hunwick due to a lack of facilities.

Ms Glass objected because she feared Eyes did not have the necessary experience to best care for the children and said Hunwick was not a suitable location.

Peter Hughes, who organised the opposition, said: “The people of Hunwick should be very proud of the way they have come together to challenge this threat to the very character of our village.

“It was totally inappropriate for Hunwick and for the children who would have been coming to Lilac House.

“If they decide to re-submit the plan then we will rally again.”

He also thanked Ms Glass, county councillors Becky Brunskill and Brian Myers and residents for expressing their opposition.

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