VILLAGERS campaigning against the opening of a new children’s home have found evidence that a previous attempt to open the building up to community use was rejected.

Many residents in Stillington, near Stockton, registered their disapproval of a plan to convert the Old Vicarage, which has been bought by Stockton Borough Council for £400,000, into a children’s home.

Before the council and childcare experts Spark of Genius can develop the house, they must first apply for change of use permission from Stockton Council.

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However, a previous attempt to change the use of the home to a centre to help people recovering from mental health issues in the 1980s was rejected by the council because it is close to a primary school, “leading to an undesirable conflict between the two uses” of the school and the house.

One resident in the village, who did not wish to be named, said: “How can Stockton Council give themselves planning permission when they have previous turned down to turn this attempt to turn the building into a nursing home for ex-mentally ill patients who, in my opinion, pose a lesser threat than children.”

No-one at the council or planning committee is able to comment until the change-of-use application has been dealt with at committee.